Open Thread and Link Farm, VD Is For Everybody Edition

This is an open thread. Post what you want, when you want it, in the language you want, from the belltower you want, while sitting on the pile of gruesomely murdered corpses you want, holding off the cops with whatever weapons you want.

So I met Esmeralda on the bus, and she was telling me about the tarot deck she created. And when I got home I looked at it online, and it is just friggin’ gorgeous. Here’s the Empress:

  1. Matthew Vines: The Bible and Homosexuality. Long, but good, and there’s a transcript as well.
  2. Without protests, justice for Trayvon Martin can’t be served – CNN.com
  3. Obama Administration Pushes to Privatize Poultry Inspection. Because it always works well to put the fox in charge of the henhouse.
  4. The case against kids: Is procreation immoral?
  5. So I’ve been enjoying the new Wonder Woman reboot, but issue seven may have put an end to the enjoyment. If your version of Wonder Woman comes off as anti-feminist, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. Romney’s Plan For People Preexisting Conditions And No Insurance: Screw ‘Em
  7. Phil is smart.
  8. Why Democrats Should Support Marco Rubio’s ‘Dangerous’ Alternative to the DREAM Act | DreamActivist
  9. Derbyshire is conservatism incarnate
  10. Now that people really need welfare, it turns out Clinton-era welfare reform was a disaster.
  11. Does the Supreme Court Have It In for the Democratic Party?
  12. The High Court’s Body-Cavity Fixation—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)
  13. And on the same SCOTUS decision: Police-State Logic
  14. Catholic Church Follies: Who has time to monitor pedophiles when women are out there using birth control?
  15. Bankers SuperPac to launch “surgical” strikes at enemies in Congress But money in no way distorts Democracy.
  16. Katniss Everdeen, Female Action Heroes, and the American Tradition
  17. hunter of justice: Background on DoMA challenge being heard in First Circuit
  18. Lawsuit filed over discriminatory anti-gay immigration law
  19. Over 80% of Jews Support Gay Marriage As David says, “how’s that for a Judeo-Christian value”?
  20. Target Knows You’re Pregnant: Psychological Management and Consumer Data
  21. On Bullying, Teen Suicide, and the Rush to Ascribe Blame (Often to Schools)
  22. The Sociopathic Transnational Capitalist Class. The rich really are different — they care less.
  23. Santorum Stops Young Man From Picking Up Pink Bowling Ball. I had to double-check to make sure the post wasn’t dated April 1st.
  24. Is There An Actual Crisis in U.S. Education?
  25. The pro-stimulus case for voting for Romney.
  26. “This infamously botched Public Service Announcement from 1969 confused an entire generation of children into thinking that they too can be attractive, successful, and happy, if only they could get their hands on VD… whatever it is.”

The Hand Art of Guido Daniele Wow!

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97 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, VD Is For Everybody Edition

  1. 2
    RonF says:

    @24:

    Furthermore, while many education “reformers” look to improve the options for poor and minority students, they’re sometimes partnering with those who would like to see education killed off in favor of cheaper free-market systems like vouchers or for-profit charter schools, approaches that have yet to yield superior results.

    Interesting use of the word “education” in this paragraph. Can children only learn in schools that are staffed and operated by employees of the State or local school districts? How is education killed off if kids leave such schools but go to charter schools or parochial schools? Vouchers and charter schools will reduce the number of children in State schools – but they don’t kill off education, they just change where it occurs. I am not aware of any studies asserting that charter schools are less effective than State schools, after all.

    If anything is likely to cause a crisis, starving schools of funds while promoting for-profit alternatives seems like it might be a good start…..

    If the number of students in State-operated and staffed schools are reduced, why shouldn’t the amount of funding going to such schools also be reduced? And if for-profit schools are able to educate children to the same extent as State-operated schools do and the children’s parents are satisfied with the results (note that if they’re not they can pull the kids out) and do it cheaper, why should we continue to have the State run schools? How is such a change a crisis?

    The purpose of public education is to educate the public at public expense so that everyone can get an education regardless of whether they can personally afford it. It is not to provide State jobs to teachers and administrators or to build and operate school buildings. If private for-profit and not-for-profit organizations can both provide at least equally effective education, do it cheaper and give parents more choices and control over their kids why would we continue to have the State operate schools?

  2. 3
    RonF says:

    @17: Wow, I’m confused. There must be some poor editing in that article. After all, we know that President Obama thinks that “the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” and that he opposes “judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,”. So he must actually be defending the DOMA just like he is the healthcare act, right? After all, DOMA passed 85-15 in the Senate (vs. 56-44 for the healthcare act) and 342-67 in the House (compared to 219-212). If the ACA passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”, the majorities DOMA passed by would make it anathema to the President that it should be overturned!

  3. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, you’re taking Obama’s (admittedly clumsy and ill-chosen) words out of context, as well as ignoring the words “duly constituted.” Noted left-winger Orin Kerr gets it right (and actually has some more intelligent criticism of what Obama said).

  4. 5
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    Occupy Easter (and similar sentiments)

    includes interesting discussion about Derbyshire, watch out for Tea Partier commenters!

  5. 6
    RonF says:

    Checked out the link, Amp, and listened to the video. I remain unconvinced. I don’t see that the context of the statement makes any change to it’s meaning. What context changes the statement that it’s unprecedented for the Supreme Court to strike down laws that were passed by a majority of the Congress into something that doesn’t directly contradict American history since 1803 (Marbury vs. Madison)? How would striking down the ACA be unprecedented, regardless of whether you connect the phrase about a “strong majority” to it or not? According to the GPO at least 158 Congressional acts have been struck down by the Supreme Court.

    Also – given the President’s speaking style, it was not at all clear to me that he was making two separate points – in fact, I had to go back and re-read the article to note that part of the blogger’s thesis was that they were two separate points. It didn’t occur to me that he held them to be. But even if he was separating the two, so what? It’s pretty foolish to hold that a 7-vote majority in a 435-person body was a “strong majority” or that he holds that as a particularly important criterion in determining whether or not the Court should uphold a law. As I note, he doesn’t seem to think that it matters with regards to DOMA, so why should he expect anyone to think it’s a significant criterion with the ACA?

    Orin Kerr seems to be addressing himself to Mr. Kopel who apparently saw (or heard) Obama as tying these two phrases together and advancing a new theory of judicial review that laws passed by a “strong majority” should receive more protection from review by the Supreme Court or more deference from it when they are reviewed. But you don’t have to buy into that to see that even if you separate those two statements, taken individually they are both absurd.

  6. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, Obama clarified what he meant the next day, right? Or was it two days after?

    We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned, at least since Lochner. Right? So we’re going to back to the ‘30s, pre-New Deal. And the point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it. But it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly-elected legislature, our Congress. And so the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this.

    Now, as I said, I expect — I expect the Supreme Court actually to — to recognize that and to abide by well-established precedents out there. I have enormous confidence that, in looking at this law, not only is it constitutional, but that the court is going to exercise its jurisprudence carefully because of the profound power that our Supreme Court has.

    In addition, you also have Holder’s letter (pdf link.)

    When Obama made his statement, it was fair — albeit, also shallow — for partisan Republicans to interpret him as believing that the Court has no right to strike down laws Congress passes. Obama did, after all, stick his own foot firmly in his mouth, and it’s as fair for the GOP to take advantage of that, as it is for the Democrats to take advantage of Romney doing the same thing.

    Of course, you could also interpret the statement the way Kerr did. Given the follow-up statements by Obama and Holder, it’s now very clear that Kerr was in fact correct, and it’s unfair of you to suggest otherwise.

  7. 8
    Robert says:

    We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned, at least since Lochner. Right? So we’re going to back to the ‘30s, pre-New Deal.

    At which time, the Court reined in an excessively broad view of the state’s power to regulate the economic life of the nation.

    It’s not like the ensuing decades have been a steady increase in the state’s economic influence, accompanied by huzzahs from the increasingly-contented populace, overwhelmingly enamored of interstate trucking regulations and no-you-cant-build-a-house-because-mice environmental constraints. Rather, there has been a building crescendo of distaste for the concept of one federal body having all that power. People are reasonably cool with the idea of the states having it; states have to compete with each other, you can always move, states were the original repository of much unarticulated government power, etc.

    It’s the all-encompassing maw of Washington that people have gotten nervous, then worried, and these days pretty darn pissed off about. Even if the regulations are good ideas – some are, some aren’t – there is and has been a burgeoning legal and political movement in opposition to the centralizing trend. True, that movement has not seen a lot of traction at the Supreme Court level – but that is itself one of the weaknesses of a one-powerful-state model. Things don’t move, until suddenly they do.

    So it isn’t like the Court’s (apparent) lean away from “of COURSE the government can make you do X” comes as a bolt from the blue, staggering the benevolent Obama and his progressive cohorts as they move from one joyously-accoladed intervention to the next. It’s “unprecedented” in the sense that, FINALLY, the Supreme Court is showing a smidgen of responsiveness to the popular mood.

    It’s not, I should say, an anti-liberal popular mood. People LIKE the idea of health care reform. We’d like to see these systems work better. We’d like to see “change we can believe in”, and a great deal of that change is probably going to be progressive/liberal/leftish in flavor and content. We’re just not at all sure that a unitary body that flips in its management from neocon to neoprog every four years is the appropriate locus for the changes.

    It’s anti-big-federal-statist. And it’s about damn time the Court recognized that the limitations of federal power lie in the written Constitution, but also in the list of things that the American people will put up with.

  8. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, I wasn’t aware that you were now the spokesman for all of America. :-)

    I think you’re mistaken if you think most Americans are fans of the Lochner era Supreme Court decisions. Most Americans like Social Security and Medicare quite a lot, not to mention the minimum wage and laws against child labor and for bank and insurance regulation.

    Even in your own narrative, you admit that your “movement has not seen a lot of traction at the Supreme Court level.” But that matters. One reason it’s important that the Court respect precedent is because the alternative is judicial Calvinball, in which the legislature can waste an entire year passing difficult legislation that no Congressman — GOP or Democrat — had any reason to suspect was unconstitutional, only to have it struck down by a highly partisan court using a shiny new legal rational that has never before had traction at the Court. That doesn’t mean the Court should never overturn precedent or strike down duly passed laws — but the Court should value judicial restraint, rather than lightly yanking the rug out from under the elected lawmakers.

    If you’re right that the American people agree with you, then that’s all the more reason for the Court to exercise restraint. The American people already have, or should have, a constitutional way of saying what they will put up with; it’s called elections.

    * * *

    Incidentally, there are a HUGE number of horribly stupid regulations that happen at the local level. Lots of local laws about who can run a taxi service or open a hair salon are more about protecting local businesspeople from the scourge of free market competition than about anything sensible. Zoning regulations sometimes protect health and safety, but they’re also often over-broad and step into areas that they shouldn’t. The “yes we love police states” law on strip-searching that the Conservatives on the Court just upheld (with, I am disgusted to admit, Obama’s support) are local law (Federal laws prohibit strip-searches without cause). The drug laws that are shoving huge numbers of nonviolent people into prison are most local laws, as are the laws stripping those same people of their right to vote. Etc, etc.

    Of course, Federalism is a principle Conservatives abandon whenever it’s convenient. I don’t see why I should consider it anything but a cynical political ploy, at least when it comes to real-life lawmaking.

    But even on its own terms, the argument makes no sense. It’s obvious that local governments are at least as involved in stomping down individual liberties as the Federal government is (and arguably moreso), and for most ordinary Americans, state- and even town-level governments aren’t something they have any more control over than they do the Federal government.

  9. 10
    Robert says:

    Don’t have time to get deep into the weeds this morning, but will hastily note that scholars, activists, and lawmakers all talked about the potential Constitutional problems of the mandate from the very beginning. Will try to find links for you later; I know I personally talked about it. Your lot didn’t listen, but you did get warned. Pelosi’s response was fairly typical: “don’t be stupid!”

    Wasting a year of Congress’ time is a feature, not a bug. Wish we could always erase a whole year of their invaluable contribution.

  10. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Don’t have time to get deep into the weeds this morning, but will hastily note that scholars, activists, and lawmakers all talked about the potential Constitutional problems of the mandate from the very beginning.

    “From the beginning” meaning back when Conservatives favored the mandate?

    Generally speaking, the ones saying the mandate was unconstitutional a couple of years ago (which is not the beginning) are the same ones who say that Social Security is unconstitutional; and yet it is not reasonable to expect Congress to legislate as if the Court is likely to overturn Social Security any day now.

    You can find scholars, activists and congressmen who will say that virtually anything is unconstitutional; but if these opinions go against a long like of precedent, then they are outliers. That’s not a reasonable basis for lawmaking.

    There was no reasonable basis for Congress to know that the mandate might be found unconstitutional at the time the law was written — unless Congress assumes that the five conservatives on the Court would choose to play Constitutional calvinball. And the truth is, it didn’t matter what the content of any Obama health care law was. If they had passed some other bill, written in some other way, then Conservatives would have invented some other novel theory for why that other law is unconstitutional, and we’d be in the same place today.

    Wasting a year of Congress’ time is a feature, not a bug. Wish we could always erase a whole year of their invaluable contribution.

    And yes, I know that you want government to fail. This is one reason it’s impossible to govern with conservatives.

  11. 12
    Robert says:

    I don’t want government to fail; I want failed governments to be powerless. Put in a proper federalism and restore the division of powers and have limited government, and I’d be all for the government to be working. I hate the Yankees and hope they fail; doesn’t mean I want baseball to fail, or that I’ll view my Mariners as somehow inauthentic come the happy day when they take their place in the sun.

    It’s not impossible to govern with conservatives (libertarians, really) – it’s impossible to have a giant statist government with libertarians. Again, feature not bug.

    Four federal courts ruled on the mandate before it reached the Supremes; two said it was kosher, one said it was not kosher, and one said they couldn’t decide yet because of that arcane tax law prohibiting consideration until the tax is collected – so of the lower courts that ruled, one in three said it was unconstitutional. That’s not the Supremes suddenly coming out of left field; that’s the prior art establishing that there’s a division of opinion which is going to have to be settled.

    Yes, there are people in the mandates-not-kosher camp who also think that Social Security and probably Little League also violate the Gold Standard Should Be The Law Imaginary Statute of 1950. There are crazy people everywhere (even if the crazy people are right).

    But a LOT of people were saying that it was unconstitutional or problematic, and from all over the political spectrum. The Wall Street Journal covered it extensively; you may disagree with their viewpoint, but they aren’t everything-is-illegal-back-to-1901!!!!!ers. People on your side of the fence, like the Green Party and National Nurses United and other single-payer-advocating groups, critiqued the mandate. Republican congressmen, including one guy on the Senate Finance Committee, raised the possibility that it was unconstitutional. They didn’t make a big huge hairy deal about it, because it IS a question rather than something bloody obvious in either direction, and when you’re in the trenches you fight the battle at hand, not the battle you see coming three years down the road. Heritage, the conservatives who did in fact come up with the idea (or at least, articulated it first), CHANGED THEIR MINDS and said, in essence, “backsies – it wouldn’t be constitutional”, and they did it before the law was passed, not three months ago in order to be “hip” with us cutting-edge libertoid types.

    It wasn’t just a few fringers, and you can’t pretend that it was, and neither can Obama.

    Yes, some Republican statists are all for it, or were. A fair number of those Republican statists are/were for it in a STATE context – and I actually agree with them that the several states are absolutely empowered to do a mandate like this. The states aren’t the federals.

    You say that if it wasn’t the mandate, we’d have found something else to say it was unconstitutional from. I don’t think so. I can’t think of anything else. I *can* think of a half-dozen ways they could have gotten the wanted reforms, and been within my understanding of what the Constitution permits the federal government to do. We’d have found something else to bitch about, I will absolutely concede. But I was saying “the mandate has a constitutionality problem, at least potentially” from the early days, and so were a lot of my cohort, and we haven’t been jumping from issue to issue to desperately find a reason it’s unconstitutional. It was always this one, particular, issue.

    More later. I’m supposed to be working for the man, not fighting for social justice.

  12. 13
    Robert says:

    One quick point – you say there was no way to tell from precedent that it could be unconstitutional.

    Imagine that you are an employer, and you run a restaurant in your office, and you charge the people that work for you $1 a day to eat in the restaurant. There is a law that says, in essence, “you cannot charge more than $10 a day for food in a company-owned restaurant”.

    Every year, you raise the price of the food $1. And every year, cranks and malcontents among your dreadful pool of employees (awful people, really) sue you, saying that you violate the spirit of the $10 Maximum Charge law. And every year, the courts rule, saying “no, $2 meals are legal.” “No, $3 meals are legal.” “$4 meals, still legal. Come on guys, fucking read it already.”

    Ten years in, you raise the price to $11 and get sued yet again, and the court says “Yep! That’s a dealbreaker, Mr. Ampersand, you oppressor of the working man. You broke the $10 rule!”

    Can you honestly say “but we have ten years of precedent showing that our price increases were legal!!!!” and be taken seriously?

    The Constitution sets a barrier to government action. The key element of the barrier, here, is that the government’s power to regulate commerce doesn’t allow it to compel commerce. If I don’t want to buy health insurance and just want to die of cancer, I can. The government can set rules for what insurance has to cover, it can say I have to be insured if I work in a public establishment, it can regulate what the insurers can charge people who do buy insurance, it can do a whole host of things. But it’s never been able to say “you have to buy this product”. Even car insurance, the best precedent for your argument, has the critical escape clause of you NOT HAVING TO OWN A CAR. You can take the bus, or take cabs, or even use your car but not on the public roads. They can regulate *what you do*, asymptotically approaching the line of *making you do it* but not crossing it. If I want to drive on I-25, they can make me get insurance; if I want to do wheelies on my own front yard, they can’t make me do shit.

    The mandate crosses it. I don’t want to be a healthy member of the commune, I want to go be a crank and die alone in a tin shack. I’M ALLOWED TO DO THAT, if I don’t come die in your yard or send my diseased tissue samples to you through the mail or something along those lines. Maybe I don’t believe in gambling and consider insurance to be gambling. Maybe I don’t trust western medicine. Maybe I think insurance companies are criminal cabals of fraudsters and card sharps. Maybe I’m just a fucking idiot. All of those are my protected rights as an American citizen and dumbass.

    You guys tried to charge $11 for the lunch plate. The limit is $10. Thus far and no farther; “but we had no warning from precedent!” is nonoperative because your precedents incrementally approached but did not cross the bright line, and it is reasonable for us to assume that you knew about the existence of the bright line. We did; we talked about it all the time.

  13. 14
    Esmeralda says:

    Hey Barry. I wanted to extend a big thank you for posting a link to the tumblr where my cards are. I really appreciate it :)

    Also, the political discussion on this thread is fairly epic.
    As a little addition to all of this hoo-ha, I’ll add my thoughts, because, hey- why the hell not?
    Ok- so plan A doesn’t work, and plan B is “unconstitutional”. What’s plan C again?
    Our system is deeply damaged on so many levels, it seems like we simply don’t have the framework to support a system that *would* function well. It’s like- the foundation to our house was build by someone on LSD, and now we’re thinking about adding a nice little patio but the back door is at a 40 degree angle and for some reason 15 feet off the ground- and we’re suprised our blueprints won’t mesh with the original design.
    I am a bit of a nihilist- yes- but I frankly see this whole structure as unfixable. I see the problems but I can’t even *begin* to imagine how to fix them. The fact that we have a president who is willing to try a naiively optimistic and altruistic plan that will, given- never ever work- is not something I can get worked up over. I’m just grateful that someone is *trying* and not just bitching about it on blog threads (snark snark).
    What I CAN get worked up over is the supreme court ruling that I can be strip seached for a traffic stop, that peak oil and resources are being *ignored* as a source of our economic failure, and that climate change is likely to decimate human civilization over the next few centuries.

    The fact that we have a president who’s trying to get everyone healthcare?
    Not up there on my sh** list, honestly.

  14. 15
    Elusis says:

    I’ll self-flog: MFT and the Culture Wars. A discussion of how the “conscience clause” legislation in Michigan that would force training programs to allow students to discriminate against any clients with whom they have “religious conflicts” (which we all know means GLBTQ people), and how the mental health fields got themselves into this place by refusing to take a stand against religiously-based prejudice within their ranks.

  15. 16
    Robert says:

    How would training programs allow or disallow discrimination on the part of their students, outside of the immediate classroom environment?

    I do not see how a school or a program can believe itself capable of that level of control. Humans, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions with strict rules and regulations, do as they damn well please. Certainly, a school may educate its students in whatever ethical values of acceptance and diversity and tolerance the school holds to be true…and clearly an employer has every right to require that their associates adhere to the collective vision of ethical treatment.

    But gay or lesbian, cis or genderqueer, socialist or libertarian, Catholic or atheist, Buffy or Angel, all of these value judgments are individual and personal. Therapy is such a personal and intimate experience; I would really not want to be a Catholic going to an atheist therapist who had been told “you must treat the religious even though you think they are fools”, and I wouldn’t want to be gay and going to Frankie Fundamentalist’s couch to experience his seethingly repressed distaste for my life.

    Yet atheist therapist and Frankie both may have considerable insight to give to the people who they are able to fully accept. I don’t want to close them down because they don’t adhere to the values I think are best; I want for them to be honest with themselves and their clients about which values they can work with and let associative sorting take care of the incompatibilities.

    TL;DR version: “Everyone must be ethically perfect” is a wonderful ideal but the consequences of actual implementation as policy seem far more horrific than the consequences of promoting the ideal, but accepting the individual variation.

  16. 17
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t want government to fail; I want failed governments to be powerless.

    The Federal government under Obama isn’t “failed,” by any but the most partisan definition. There are plenty of real-world failed governments to look at, and the US government at the moment resembles none of them. The taxes are being collected, the army leadership is obeying the government’s orders, no one questions that Obama will peacefully leave office on January 20 of either 2013 or 2017, etc.

    In this case, “failed” means “supprots policies Robert disagrees with.” But parties who win elections to the point of controlling both houses of the legislature, and the executive, should have the ability to make important law, even if that means going against Robert’s — and now I mean Justice Robert’s — partisan preferences.

    There was almost no one in the legal mainstream suggesting that the mandate was unconstitutional when Republicans proposed it in a bill in congress (co-sponsored by almost half the Republicans in the Senate) during the Clinton Administration. The overwhelming belief among Republican legislators seems to have been that there was no reason to even question the mandate’s constitutionality. Has the Constitutional been amended since that time? Have there been new legal precedents since that time which clearly make mandates unconstitutional?

    The record makes it clear that for powerful elected Republicans, what’s “constitutional” or not is a matter of opportunism. When Republicans propose a law with a mandate, it’s constitutional; when Democrats propose the same policy, that’s unconstitutional. Why? Because of an “active/inactive” distinction that appears nowhere in the Constitution, and that was extremely obscure until Randy Barrett took up the cause in 2010, after the ACA had been written.

    You say that if it wasn’t the mandate, we’d have found something else to say it was unconstitutional from. I don’t think so. I can’t think of anything else.

    Of course you can’t now; it’s not relevant now. But ten years from now, when a “Medicare For All” bill is passed, Barrett or some other clever person will come up with previously-obscure or brand-new arguments as to why Medicare For All is an unconstitutional expansion of the Federal Government’s powers. And at that time, you’ll be able to make the exact same defense of that view that you’ve made here (it’s okay to ignore precedent, because ten dollar meals!), and if there’s a majority of Conservatives on the Court, and if Medicare For All is as big a partisan deal as Obamacare is, then they’ll be extremely tempted to use these new arguments to deal Democrats a major political loss.

    The idea that it’s only the mandate that’s the problem is contradicted by the case itself. Although people haven’t discussed this as much as the mandate, in the Supreme Court Obamacare oral arguments, the conservatives Justices took very seriously the argument that for the Federal government to expand Medicaid is unconstitutional. It’s Judicial Calvinball, and it’s not just the mandate.

    There is a law that says, in essence, “you cannot charge more than $10 a day for food in a company-owned restaurant”.

    Here’s where your analogy fails: There has been no existing law or precedent saying that we cannot have a mandate.

    The Constitution sets a barrier to government action. The key element of the barrier, here, is that the government’s power to regulate commerce doesn’t allow it to compel commerce.

    Really, that’s the key element of the barrier? Great. Please quote me where the Constitution states this barrier. Or show me the line of precedents.

    Because to me, this seems the very essence of Calvinball. No such rule is in the Constitutional, or has ever been in the Constitution.

    There are then paragraphs and paragraphs of you going on about how the ACA says “you have to buy this product.” But that’s not true. The ACA says “you have to choose between buying this product or paying a fine.” If you don’t want health insurance, then just pay the fine. (Unless you have a low income, in which case you’re exempt from even having to pay the fine.)

  17. 18
    RonF says:

    Here’s an article touching ondiscrimination against the obese:

    A Victoria [Texas] hospital already embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit filed by doctors of Indian descent has instituted a highly unusual hiring policy: It bans job applicants from employment for being too overweight.

    The Citizens Medical Center policy, instituted a little more than a year ago, requires potential employees to have a body mass index of less than 35 — which is 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10. It states that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.

  18. 19
    Ampersand says:

    Esmeralda, you’re very welcome! The cards are awesome.

    What I CAN get worked up over is the supreme court ruling that I can be strip seached for a traffic stop, that peak oil and resources are being *ignored* as a source of our economic failure, and that climate change is likely to decimate human civilization over the next few centuries.

    Agreed. But — especially when it comes to climate change — “Our system is deeply damaged on so many levels, it seems like we simply don’t have the framework to support a system that *would* function well.” Our system is so full of veto points that it’s almost impossible to imagine anything getting done when one party has, in effect, decided that it doesn’t believe in science.

  19. 20
    RonF says:

    I didn’t see President Obama’s commentary on his previous comments until you posted it. Having said that, my answer to “We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce.” is a) “So what?” and b) “It’s about damn time it did.” Congress and the courts have both been overreaching the meaning of the Commerce clause for decades. A law that requires people to buy something or pay a fine purely on the basis of having been born is unprecedented as well, so that’s moot from my viewpoint.

    And yes, I know that you want government to fail. This is one reason it’s impossible to govern with conservatives.

    A common slander. No, conservatives don’t want government to fail. Conservatives simply disagree with liberals on what constitutes governmental success. Conservatives want the government to succeed in defending the borders, building roads and bridges, maintaining an effective police force and fire department, coining money, etc., etc. Whereas it seems that liberals want the government to protect people against the consequences of birth and choices. Conservatives don’t want the government to fail at that – they don’t want it to do so in the first place.

  20. 21
    Sam L says:

    Wow, that Derbyshire article almost reads like something Kurt Vonnegut would write (point five in particular), until it just goes completely off the rails at around point 10 and then it’s like reading a trainwreck.

  21. 22
    Ampersand says:

    I didn’t see President Obama’s commentary on his previous comments until you posted it.

    Okay. Having seen it, do you now agree that it’s clear that Obama does not claim that the SC doesn’t have the right to overturn legislation passed by Congress?

    Regarding the Supreme Court suddenly, radically breaking with their prior precedents, you say “so what?” I’d say the answer is division of powers. The Congress, not the Supreme Court, has the power to legislate, and the Supreme Court is supposed to give a great deal of deference to Congress, interfering only when Congress is clearly being unconstitutional according to either the text of the Constitution, or when there’s a line of known precedent of constitutional interpretation that Congress has ran afoul of.

    That doesn’t mean the Supreme Court shouldn’t sometimes overturn laws. But they shouldn’t do so based on brand-new-to-the-Court Constitutional principals that just happen to accord with the majority’s partisan preferences. That’s not rule of law, it’s not separation of powers.

    What you’re favoring is a system in which Congress has no way of writing laws that they can depend on to be Constitutional, since the Judges can just make up anything anytime they want to overturn a law., and in which there is no value at all given to the Court’s traditional deference to the legislature. That’s not conservative; that’s radical.

    * * *

    I think it would be hard to square your claims of what “conservatives want” with what the GOP actually does when it’s in power. For instance, the GOP is not in favor of “building roads and bridges”; they’re in favor of letting them rot rather than paying for them. Conservatives are extremely in favor of protecting people from the consequences of their own choices, if those people happen to be wealthy wall streeters, CEOs of phone companies, CIA agents who broke the laws against torture, etc.. (To be fair, many centrist Democrats are almost as bad as the GOP on those points, and some libertarians — although not all — disagree with the GOP on those points.)

    More importantly, saying (paraphrased) “the government we have isn’t the government we want” is no excuse for being bad-faith saboteurs who are trying to make the government fail. We live in a representative democracy. If you have enough overwhelming electoral victories so that you can pass laws institutionalizing your incredibly radical vision of the proper role of government, great. But if you’re not able to do that — and so far, you haven’t been able to — then your duty as an elected official should be to try and find compromise legislation and make it work well, at least until you can win enough elections so you can pass new legislation overturning the prior legislation.

  22. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Wow, Ron, that link was really something! That would make me feel good as a patient. “Mr. Deutsch, before you get your heart operated on, you’ll be pleased to know that we didn’t hire the very best surgeons we could get. We hired the best ones we could get who weren’t fat. You don’t see any problem with that, do you?”

  23. 24
    Robert says:

    Amp, the specific scope of what the Commerce Clause enables Congress to do is concealed behind an emanation from a penumbra. You have to look real close.

    OK, that was a cheap shot. But it was funny so I’m letting it pass muster. (I’ll let you put in a Romney dog-on-the-roof joke sometime and not complain.)

    The 11th circuit ruling actually explains it pretty well. It isn’t specifically that the Commerce Clause has a restriction; it’s that the Constitutional framework of limited and enumerated powers in general is still held to be valid, and so a law which tramples that framework into oblivion is an overreach.

    The judges:
    ““We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional power.”

    They hit on this point pretty heavily in the oral argument at the Supreme Court, with Kagan basically begging the administration’s lawyer to articulate a limiting principle, but he either didn’t know how or didn’t believe there was a limiting principle. (I suspect the latter.) Such limiting principles are important in Constitutional jurisprudence because (I gather) they serve to reiterate the document’s commitment to a limited vision of Federal authority. If you can point to a clear limiting principle, then your exercise of power is obviously limited; if you can’t then your law might be making an absolute power grab and that’s not cool.

    The broccoli example has become justly well-known for its facetiousness, but it conveys a very serious point. If the mandate is Constitutional, it is difficult to see how ANY economic law or regulation passed by Congress would be unconstitutional. Congress can require you to go, or not go, to college. Congress can require you to work in certain jobs (so long as you’re getting paid so it isn’t servitude). Congress can make you buy insurance, a house, three dogs, and a pony, and can make you ride the pony a certain number of miles each day.

    The one principle the administration did come up with was the “uniqueness” of the health care market, but not only is uniqueness not a limiting principle, it isn’t even true; as Scalia noted in his line of questioning, everybody dies just like everybody uses health care, and so Congress could mandate certain funeral arrangements using that industry’s “uniqueness” as a justifier.

    I won’t argue the point that there is partisan motivation behind much of the “it’s against the Constitution” outrage, nor will I dispute that you wouldn’t be hearing it from a Republican administration if the mandate was passed by Republicans. That’s regrettably hypocritical of us, but you can be hypocritical and right at the same time. I’ll be a hypocrite when I tell my daughter not to drink alcohol as a teenager (because I did) but I’ll still be right that teenage drinking = generally bad idea.

    Regarding the “it’s not really a mandate because you can just pay a fine and if you’re poor you don’t even have to do that” argument – what’s your view on the question, what level of fine makes it, effectively, a requirement? If the fine is $20 million, is it still reasonable to say that there’s no requirement to buy? The problem with this argument from the limited-powers point of view is that it relies on a “reasonable” level of fine being set by Congress, but articulates no limiting principle on what that fine can be. Can the next Congress make the fine a gazillion dollars? Seems to me that they sure could.

    I’ll also refer you to my counter to Nobody.Really’s advancement of the same point, with the Bob Hayes Is Everyone’s Dom Law. State power is a fearsome beast; “but we promise not to let it be too fearsome” really isn’t a comforting enough proposition that the state making you do something (even with an out) doesn’t boil down to the state making you do something. “It’s not a requirement, it’s just a fine” is a very clever piece of sophistry, but ultimately unconvincing when one examines the potentials for abuse.

    (Also, pragmatically, if the mandate isn’t a de facto requirement because the fine is minimal or avoidable, then the structural assumptions of the ACA collapse anyway, and the insurance industry with it.)

    You opine that when they pass Medicare For All or single-payer, guys like me will come up with new reasons why it’s unconstitutional. All I can say in response is that, right now, I could lay out programs along those lines which would have clear Constitutional problems, and I could lay out programs along those lines which I would have to admit pass Constitutional muster. You’ll have to pass the (acceptable-to-2012-Bob) law and test me on whether I mean that in 2020. (Save this thread for reference.)

  24. 25
    RonF says:

    Okay. Having seen it, do you now agree that it’s clear that Obama does not claim that the SC doesn’t have the right to overturn legislation passed by Congress?

    That’s his current position, anyway. You know, for someone who’s supposedly far smarter, more articulate and better educated than Pres. Bush, Pres. Obama certainly has problems expressing himself sometimes. This is a pretty basic concept for a President and a lecturer in some aspects of Constitutional law (not to mention President). He should have gotten this one right the first time. I pray he’s sincere.

    And that bit about “strong majority”? That was pure bullshit.

    Regarding the Supreme Court suddenly, radically breaking with their prior precedents, you say “so what?”

    When the Executive and/or the Congress break precedent I see no reason why the Supremes cannot at least consider doing so. The point here is that a great many people hold that there IS no precedent to what this bill proposes. Politics are certainly involved, but it’s a legitimate intellectual position to hold that the Constitution does not give the Congress the power to do this. Are you claiming that the Justices who will vote to kill this bill are doing so for political reasons but the ones who vote to uphold it are in contrast pure of heart?

    I think it would be hard to square your claims of what “conservatives want” with what the GOP actually does when it’s in power.

    So do I. So do the members of the Tea Party movement. That’s pretty much why the Tea Party movement started and why it’s gained so much influence so quickly. That’s why there were more challengers to Romney in this election cycle than there were to then-Sen. Obama in 2008. It’s pretty clear that “GOP” != “Conservative”.

    For instance, the GOP is not in favor of “building roads and bridges”; they’re in favor of letting them rot rather than paying for them.

    I’m not clear on that. And it’s not like the Democrats are jumping up to do something about the infrastructure.

    Conservatives are extremely in favor of protecting people from the consequences of their own choices, if those people happen to be wealthy wall streeters, CEOs of phone companies, CIA agents who broke the laws against torture, etc.. (To be fair, many centrist Democrats are almost as bad as the GOP on those points, and some libertarians — although not all — disagree with the GOP on those points.)

    Once again, “GOP” != “Conservative”. Go to a Tea Party rally – really, do that sometime and actually talk to people – and see what their opinions of the bailouts and such are. I believe you’ll find that they were and are dead set against them. Note, too, that you help me make my point when you say that there are a number of Democrats that have the same positions. It’s not about party, it’s about helping people who help you stay in power.

    I’m a resident of Illinois. I’m pretty familiar with the phenomenon.

    More importantly, saying (paraphrased) “the government we have isn’t the government we want” is no excuse for being bad-faith saboteurs who are trying to make the government fail.

    I don’t seen anyone being a bad-faith saboteur and I don’t see anyone trying to make the government fail. “Killing the healthcare bill” != “making the government fail”. “Bringing suit to force the Federal government to obey the law” != “being a bad-faith saboteur”. Where the Federal government seeks to further what I consider it’s proper roles within the powers granted to it under the Constitution I pray it succeeds and I vote for the people involved in such efforts as I am able. When they do not I petition my government for redress and I exercise my franchise in the voting booth.

    If you have enough overwhelming electoral victories so that you can pass laws institutionalizing your incredibly radical vision of the proper role of government, great.

    You know, I was going to contest your statement. But after reflecting on the process by which we ended up with the Constitution and after looking around at the kinds of governments we see in the world today I’ve decided that you’re right. I embrace the phrase “incredibly radical vision of the proper role of government” – gladly. Elsewhere in the world governments seek to keep increasing their power over the inhabitants of their juristictions. In every country you look at essential liberties are withheld or threatened; freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to keep and bear arms are denied or circumscribed far worse than they are here. People have been or are being reduced from citizenship to becoming subjects, whether it’s of outright despots, unelected bureaucrats or patronistic politicians, often under the guise that it’s the government’s job to decide what’s best for you and to take care of you, not the individual’s. Individual liberty and freedom – including the freedom to fail miserably – is a radical idea these days. Our founders thought so, certainly. They didn’t duck the word. Neither will I.

    But if you’re not able to do that — and so far, you haven’t been able to — then your duty as an elected official should be to try and find compromise legislation and make it work well,

    If it’s possible to make it work well I’d agree with you. But if it’s not possible, if it violates basic principles, then it should be fought with such means as are provided at law.

    at least until you can win enough elections so you can pass new legislation overturning the prior legislation.

    The GOP, with more participation and activity from the Tea Party movement than it’s establishment is comfortable with, should keep the House. They’ve got a decent shot at taking the White House – the Tea Party folks will in the end hold their nose and vote for Romney, but it’s the other independents that are the main question there. And there’s a pretty honest shot for the GOP to take the Senate. I don’t see it getting a filibuster-proof majority there. But then, at this point before Election 2010 I didn’t think the GOP had a shot at getting an outright majority in the House, so who knows?

  25. 26
    RonF says:

    Yeah, Amp, I kind of thought the same thing. “Old people don’t like fat doctors, so we’re not going to hire them. It’s marketing.” seems to be the rationale.

    The Derbyshire article – yeah, I read that a while back. I kind of had the same reaction. Some of his early points were valid, but then further down I started to say “What? What is this?”

  26. 27
    Elusis says:

    Ron @16 (though I’d love for you to come comment there rather than here; you may be Handsome but Barry is Well-Trafficked, much more important on the Intertubes!)

    How would training programs allow or disallow discrimination on the part of their students, outside of the immediate classroom environment?

    The discussion applies to students’ behavior within their training program, including in their supervised practicum/internship experience. Apologies if you know this already, but most mental health graduate programs require that students do some kind of work with clients while they are in school, sometimes at a school-run clinic, sometimes at “external placements” (aka local agencies of various types). Students’ work is supervised by faculty and/or a licensed site supervisor, is graded (even if it’s just pass/fail), and is closely monitored. Students are regularly evaluated and given feedback about what they need to work on in order to continue to develop their clinical skills.

    This can be anything from their basic therapy meta-skills (validating the client, using clients’ language, asking open-ended questions, tracking the content and process of what happens in session) to higher-level application of theory (choosing a mode of therapy to use with the client, selecting interventions that are appropriate to the theory and the stage of treatment, implementing the interventions effectively, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and choosing what to do next).

    It also includes “self-of-therapist” issues, called by some disciplines “countertransference” – therapists’ own “stuff” that gets in the way of being effective in the room. Letting the father in a family interrupt everyone because they have unresolved issues with dominant male figures. Minimizing talk about emotions and focusing on thoughts because they are uncomfortable with emotional intensity. Issues of stereotypes and bias that either come out in session, or more usually, in supervision when the student talks about the client(s) and their clinical formulation of the case.

    This is all really routine stuff that is part of mental health training – some programs do it better than others, some have higher standards than others, some require more hours than others, but it’s really not any different than requiring biology students to spend time in the lab and grading them on their skill at culturing bacteria or whatever.

    I do not see how a school or a program can believe itself capable of that level of control. Humans, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions with strict rules and regulations, do as they damn well please. Certainly, a school may educate its students in whatever ethical values of acceptance and diversity and tolerance the school holds to be true…and clearly an employer has every right to require that their associates adhere to the collective vision of ethical treatment.

    Indeed. And that is what these legal cases have been about: That the codes of ethics for the various MH professions all have non-discrimination clauses that include sexual orientation. But they also all have “scope of practice/scope of competence” clauses, which say that you will not practice with a problem or population for whom you are not trained, and will consider referring if a client might benefit from more specialized treatment.

    (So, I would not work with a person with an active eating disorder, because I have some general knowledge of how eating disorders work and some options for treatment, but I have never had specific supervised experience working with clients with EDs, and since they are particularly potentially dangerous, it would be better for a client with an active ED to see someone who is skilled in that area. I’ve referred out a client who went from what initially appeared to be bipolar disorder, which I have experience with, to a full psychotic break, which I don’t, and didn’t have the resources to manage. I used to turn away clients who sought my help as the primary therapist to manage their gender transition, because I didn’t have any concrete experience with the transition process, just book learning, so I sought out supervision and more specific training and now I would accept transitioning clients (or will when I go back into practice).)

    The problem is that these two ethical statutes conflict and there is no clarity about how to resolve them. If I harbor dislike and distaste for GLBTQ people, and I refuse to get any training in working with them or do any work about the effects of bias on gender and sexual minority people, then am I engaging in unethical discrimination if I refuse to work with them? Or am I engaging in ethical behavior by referring them to a therapist who doesn’t have my biases?

    There is no clear guideline at this point. The programs involved in lawsuits opted to require their students to do some kind of study or training that would address this dilemma – one required that the student take a class on multicultural/diversity issues that included activities designed to increase awareness of bias against sexual/gender minorities, and the effects of heterosexism, homophobia, etc., and the student refused, whereupon she was dismissed and sued. The other told the student that it was a violation of their profession’s code of ethics to refuse to see any GLBTQ clients and started disciplinary action against her for an ethical violation (this is also a routine part of most training programs – it would kick in if a student mis-handled confidential client files, or developed a dual relationship with a client outside the therapy room as well. Usually these things involve an internal review process that comes out with recommendations for additional supervision or training, and requires the student to follow the recommendations if they want to remain in the program. A very serious violation, like having a sexual relationship with a client, or multiple violations, could result in dismissal.) Then the student sued.

    Again, this is all totally normal stuff. If a student said “I don’t want to see any couples where there has been violence, because my mother beat up my father on a regular basis,” most programs would say to that student, look, you may or may not wind up working in a setting where you have that choice. “I’ll just refer” isn’t a blanket solution to all problem clients, because sometimes there is no one else to refer to – caseloads are full, the other family therapist is on vacation, you’re the only licensed therapist within 50 miles, whatever. So it would be normal for a program to say “you might consider whether some personal therapy would be useful at this point if your experience of domestic violence is still so triggering for you.” Or even require it. A program might say “we want you to work with this couple, but we’ll assign you a more experienced student as a co-therapist.” Or even a faculty member. The student might be asked to take the client but do all their sessions with live supervision (a supervisor behind a one-way mirror or watching via video). The student might be asked to be part of a consulting team that would watch from behind the mirror, or view video of sessions, and consult with the primary therapist about how treatment should proceed. They might be asked to sit in as an observer on a group run for DV offenders, or work as a co-facilitator with an experienced therapist. These would all be totally normal, everyday ways that a training program would address a student who had difficulty working with a particular issue or population.

    The problem is when religion and sexual orientation butt heads, and the religious folks say “nuh uh.” (The student who sued over being told she couldn’t reject gay clients admitted she would work with DV offenders or even murderers, so clearly she was OK with some people whose actions went against her religion…)

    But gay or lesbian, cis or genderqueer, socialist or libertarian, Catholic or atheist, Buffy or Angel, all of these value judgments are individual and personal. Therapy is such a personal and intimate experience; I would really not want to be a Catholic going to an atheist therapist who had been told “you must treat the religious even though you think they are fools”, and I wouldn’t want to be gay and going to Frankie Fundamentalist’s couch to experience his seethingly repressed distaste for my life.

    An atheist therapist who thinks all religious people are fools is potentially very seriously ethically compromised. A student in a training program who expressed that belief should be looked at by the faculty and a plan of exploring that bias against a context of ethical practice should be developed.

    This is a great quote from Caldwell’s first article on the topic:
    “The practice of psychotherapy does not concern itself with the moral, religious, or personal positions of the clinician,” agreed Angela Kahn, an MFT in private practice in Los Angeles. “Those aspects of being are for the clinician’s own therapy. When a clinician allows personal beliefs to drive therapeutic decision-making, we question overall competence, no matter the content of the beliefs.”

    Yet atheist therapist and Frankie both may have considerable insight to give to the people who they are able to fully accept. I don’t want to close them down because they don’t adhere to the values I think are best; I want for them to be honest with themselves and their clients about which values they can work with and let associative sorting take care of the incompatibilities.

    See, I disagree. As I wrote on Google+ when someone re-posted, I’ve worked with a lot of people whose behaviors were really repugnant to me, and cared about the people behind the behaviors, and called out a lot of them in the process. Not everybody can do that, which doesn’t make me some kind of superhero, it just makes me well suited to my profession. (And someone who’s put in a whole lot of time and energy specifically cultivating the ability to do so.) And people who can’t do that, are not well suited to my profession. People who can only join with those who live their lives in a way they think is acceptable and moral are not suited to being therapists. They should find another profession that they are suited to, rather than insisting that the profession change to suit them. And this has been understood as a fundamental principle of training therapists for decades, until the religion card got pulled post-1973, and the chickens of failing to confront that flawed “exception” are now coming home to roost.

    TL;DR version: “Everyone must be ethically perfect” is a wonderful ideal but the consequences of actual implementation as policy seem far more horrific than the consequences of promoting the ideal, but accepting the individual variation.

    There’s no talk about “perfection” here. The issue is that while in training, students have a particular obligation to learn the norms of their profession, and mental health at this point is a field that says “bias against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity has no basis in clinical understanding of healthy behavior; discrimination based on various protected characteristics is unethical; practicing out of a place of bias is also unethical and harmful to the client.” Mental health training programs have an obligation to inculcate students in the best practices of the profession, and if a student doesn’t want to follow them, they may be in the wrong field.

    Everyone enters their training program having strong negative reactions against all kinds of people. Competent graduates leave with a bag full of tools for how to manage those biases and join with clients effectively in spite of them, while knowing their own limitations and how to ethically manage issues of competence without acting in ways that are discriminatory. Students who refuse the experience of building that “bag of tools” need to find another profession because they’re not suited to being therapists.

  27. 28
    KellyK says:

    Elusis, thanks for that really thorough explanation of how mental health training works and how biases are addressed.

    I tend to think that if someone wants to provide therapy/counseling purely from the perspective of their own religion, they should get a job with a religious organization doing that sort of thing. I’m not sure how many of those jobs are out there–and how many of them require some religious ordination or degree–but certainly there are people who write self-help books and run marriage retreats and that sort of thing. If you don’t want to follow the ethics of the profession, you don’t get to change the rules to suit yourself. (At least you *shouldn’t*–pretty often people do get to blow off the rules, at least if they’re conservative Christians.)

  28. 29
    Elusis says:

    My pleasure, Kelly.

    Mental health clinical training is really somewhat singular in that you are in school, in part, to change how you think and how you respond to people because those things relate directly to how effective you are at your eventual career. You don’t have to become someone unrecognizable to yourself, but if you are no different at the end of your training than you were at the beginning, other than being more “informed,” something has gone terribly wrong.

    I tend to think that if someone wants to provide therapy/counseling purely from the perspective of their own religion, they should get a job with a religious organization doing that sort of thing.

    The problem with this, as I see it, is that they are *still doing counseling,* and without formal training in the basics of secular mental health practice, they can do much more harm than good (both to their clients, and to the clients’ perceptions of “counseling” overall). I got really cranked recently listening to a TED talk by some gal named Jenna McCarthy (not Jenny, the anti-vax crank) about what makes marriage work. Not only was she annoying and unfunny, but I couldn’t figure out what her qualifications were. Turns out she got a degree in advertising, then somehow got hired to write marriage and family columns at women’s magazines, and now writes self-help books. This makes me nuts because not only was her talk sexist and heterosexist (and full of slides of white people!), it wasn’t even good use of quality marriage research. I feel similarly about people who are educated in the interpretation of religious texts within a context of a particular faith, who then turn around and try to counsel people on mental health and relationships.

  29. 30
    Robert says:

    Thanks for the explication, Elusis. Very informative. I would still worry that you’re going to see a lot of lip service, and resulting ill-served clients.

  30. 31
    RonF says:

    Elusis, that was Robert @16, not me.

  31. 32
    Stefan says:

    I recommend this movie :
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1686067/

  32. 33
    KellyK says:

    The problem with this, as I see it, is that they are *still doing counseling,* and without formal training in the basics of secular mental health practice, they can do much more harm than good (both to their clients, and to the clients’ perceptions of “counseling” overall). I got really cranked recently listening to a TED talk by some gal named Jenna McCarthy (not Jenny, the anti-vax crank) about what makes marriage work. Not only was she annoying and unfunny, but I couldn’t figure out what her qualifications were. Turns out she got a degree in advertising, then somehow got hired to write marriage and family columns at women’s magazines, and now writes self-help books. This makes me nuts because not only was her talk sexist and heterosexist (and full of slides of white people!), it wasn’t even good use of quality marriage research. I feel similarly about people who are educated in the interpretation of religious texts within a context of a particular faith, who then turn around and try to counsel people on mental health and relationships.

    That is a good point. Religious training doesn’t make someone a mental health expert, and while there’s a useful place for pastoral/spiritual advice, it really shouldn’t be passed off as mental health advice. Especially when there are lots of people with really strong religious convictions who gravitate toward religious counseling because they’re afraid that a “secular” counselor or therapist will give them spiritually dangerous, unbiblical advice.

    I remember getting really annoyed with the comments section of this article because a bunch of commenters were giving the writers grief for criticizing the book Real Marriage because the writers, a pastor and his wife, don’t have any mental health credentials. The article, I think, is right on, and points out that you wouldn’t ask your pastor for marriage and sex advice any more than you would ask them what stocks to pick or what’s wrong with your car. But a number of commenters were horribly incensed by the idea that a Christian couple should see a mental health professional who, in their view, would probably give them all sorts of sinful advice. (The next time I see those kinds of conversations, I’ll refer back to your description of the training required to actually be a mental health professional, and the idea that pushing your own values on a client is a huge ethics violation.)

    In my perfect world, people giving advice from a religious perspective would be upfront about what they *don’t* have any expertise in, and would recommend seeing an actual mental health professional when the situation warrants it.

  33. 34
    KellyK says:

    Robert @30, I would think you would have more ill-served clients if you taught mental health professionals that it was totally okay to avoid getting any experience that goes outside your own beliefs, so that you can then legitimately refuse service to a group of people.

    Particularly in small towns where there aren’t tons of options (especially if it’s a really conservatively Christian small town with more prejudice against LGBT people than average). When I was teaching middle school in rural PA and started having issues with anxiety, I remember having trouble finding a therapist through my EAP. The only person in my town was someone I worked with, because she also did counseling at the school. (I’m sure she could’ve been totally professional about it. Small-town therapists probably have tons of clients they see in other contexts. But it would’ve made me uncomfortable.)

    So what is an LGBT person in the same circumstance supposed to do if, say, 3 of the 5 therapists within a 60-mile radius won’t even see them?

    As far as religious/ethical/association freedom and work, I keep coming back to one central thing–if you can’t in good conscience follow the ethical rules of a profession, don’t be in that profession.

  34. 35
    Elusis says:

    RonF, you guys are both so handsome that I have trouble telling you apart.

  35. 36
    RonF says:

    KellyK:

    The article, I think, is right on, and points out that you wouldn’t ask your pastor for marriage and sex advice any more than you would ask them what stocks to pick or what’s wrong with your car.

    Seriously? You take it as a settled presumption that a pastor is no more qualified to give advice on marriage and sex than they are on stock picks or car trouble? Are you kidding? Advice on relationships is certainly within the purview of pastoral care! Especially within marriage. And while advice on the biological aspects of sex might not be, the emotional aspects are to at least a certain extent and the moral aspects definitely are.

    Of course there are limits. I’ve had discussions with my pastor on this very topic, and he said that there are definitely points where the care a person needs passes his expertise and he refers them to a mental health professional. But I can’t accept the analogy you draw.

    BTW, I’m an Episcopalian. Our priests can (and almost always do) marry, have kids, etc.

  36. 37
    RonF says:

    from the belltower you want, while sitting on the pile of gruesomely murdered corpses you want, holding off the cops with whatever weapons you want.

    Always sneaking in those references to Eagle Scouts, eh? This time, though, he is properly described as “was an Eagle Scout.” The BSA revoked his Eagle Scout status after he was convicted. They’ve only done it a handful of times, but that was one of them.

  37. 38
    Ampersand says:

    I honestly had no idea. You’re not making being a boy scout sound very attractive, Ron.

    Although I guess I’m a little past the window for becoming an Eagle Scout, anyway.

  38. 39
    RonF says:

    Back in the day there was no time limit. Adults were occasionally getting Eagle. But in the 50′s (IIRC) a time limit was introduced. You have to turn your Eagle application in before your 18th birthday. There is a petition to get a brief extension if something happens (you’ve got your plan approved and time to do it and then you break a leg/your Mom dies kind of thing), and kids who are emotionally or mentally disabled can get a lengthy extension. But otherwise if you’re 17.5 years old and you decide you want Eagle – like my son (dufus …) then it’s a race. My son turned his app in 36 hours before his 18th birthday, and he by no means has the record.

  39. 40
    chingona says:

    The ability to follow through on your plans … yet another morally neutral virtue.

  40. 41
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    For all the folks interested in hate crimes:

    Race-Based Hate Crimes, the UCR, and the NCVS
    Which racial groups are targeted for hate crimes, and at what frequency? That turns out to be an interesting question, on which two different datasets offer two different answers.

    The United States has two main crime measures, the UCR and the NCVS.

    The UCR (Uniform Crime Reports) reports on crimes that are reported to, and then reported by, the police. The NCVS reports on what is said by people surveyed through the National Crime Victimization Survey; it includes crimes that aren’t reported to the police, and aspects of crimes that aren’t reported to or by the police. Each has possible flaws…

    …To give you a sense of the difference between the two, note that the UCR Hate Crime Statistics 2005 reports 7163 hate crime incidents in 2005; the NCVS Hate Crime Reported by Victims and Police (2003-2009 data) estimates “an annual average of 195,000 hate crime victimizations.”

  41. 42
    KellyK says:

    Seriously? You take it as a settled presumption that a pastor is no more qualified to give advice on marriage and sex than they are on stock picks or car trouble? Are you kidding? Advice on relationships is certainly within the purview of pastoral care! Especially within marriage. And while advice on the biological aspects of sex might not be, the emotional aspects are to at least a certain extent and the moral aspects definitely are.

    Good point. I should’ve said “sex” rather than “sex and marriage.” Relationship advice, to a certain extent, is definitely a pastoral thing. The book in question (Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll) gets into very specific detail and is described by one reviewer as “a control freak attempting to assert his dominance onto the fine details of my marriage.” It’s definitely a pastor trying to take on the role of psychiatrist and sex therapist, going as far as to say what specific sexual acts a married couple can/should engage in (breast massage and strip tease, apparently, based on the author’s reading of The Song of Solomon) and projecting their own struggles onto other people’s relationships.

    Of course there are limits. I’ve had discussions with my pastor on this very topic, and he said that there are definitely points where the care a person needs passes his expertise and he refers them to a mental health professional. But I can’t accept the analogy you draw.

    I think part of the issue is that we’re coming at this from slightly different religious contexts. You’re Episcopalian; my religious background is evangelical/fundamentalist. You’ve got a pastor who refers people to mental health professionals when he’s out of his depth. I can’t picture the pastor of the church I attended as a kid doing the same thing, and I’m used to religious environments that have a vague distrust toward the mental health profession.

  42. 43
    RonF says:

    GiW, @ 41:

    The UCR data suggests that the victimization rate for race-based hate crimes is 20 times higher for blacks than for whites.

    What does the NCVS tell us about 2003-2009 hate crime data? … it seems that on balance the victimization rate for race-based hate crimes is about the same for blacks than for whites,

    Which tells me that law enforcement is refusing to refer to black-on-white crime as race-based even though the people actually involved think it is.

    Have a look at this:

    A piñata shaped like a white woman was strung up to a tree at the University of Memphis, then African-American students took turns beating it with a stick.

    … Isn’t this a shocking case of racism? No, actually it isn’t. Turns out the students involved were mere grade school kids, brought on campus for a special “Luau” party sponsored by the university. The piñata was supposed to represent a hula dancer.

    “We want to assure our community that no racial or gender animosity was intended,” said a university spokesperson.

    Would anyone have bought into or accepted the university spokesperson’s explanation if the races of the students and the pinata were reversed?

    Of course, that wasn’t a crime. But it does point out what kinds of attitudes are present in academia with regards to race relations. Here’s an actual crime:

    How about this:

    The video, [available at the link] was shot by an onlooker outside a downtown courthouse, where the tourist was sucker-punched by an attacker. The victim, wearing a Mountain Dew shirt, crumpled to the sidewalk and hit his head.

    While on the ground, the man was set upon by about ten attackers, who stole his Tag Heuer watch, money, iPhone, and keys to his Audi, according to police. The dazed and defenseless victim is also punched, kicked, and even hit with a shoe by several assailants. In a final indignity, the man is “teabagged” by a male attacker.

    The 1:26 cell phone video–shot by a cameraman who cackled as the beating transpired–was first uploaded to the WorldStar Hip Hop web site on March 30. It was included as part of a 14:22 “fight compilation” of 12 clips showing assorted mayhem.

    The victim was white. All the assailants were black. However:

    Baltimore’s police chief today said that the videotaped beating of a white tourist does not appear to be a hate crime, but rather “drunken opportunistic criminality” on the part of a gang of Charm City assailants.

    In a radio interview, Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III urged Baltimore residents to “distinguish between criminality and racially motivated crime.” Bealefeld, who is white, warned against “race-baiting” and “fear-mongering” in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting and other recent racially charged incidents.

    “There’s no doubt it’s a crime,” Bealefeld said of the March 17 assault. “We need to vigorously hold criminals accountable, and we have to be careful not to be pulled into this race-baiting.

    Can you imagine the cops saying this if the attacker had been black and the crowd had been white? Can you imagine any of our national “leaders” or professional race-baiters like Al Sharpton saying what the Baltimore police chief said in this case? Of course not. Look at the Trayvon Martin case. So I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the UCR data to measure racially-motivated crime in the U.S.

  43. 44
    W.B. Reeves says:

    I’m late to this party but that last post deserves a response.

    Which tells me that law enforcement is refusing to refer to black-on-white crime as race-based even though the people actually involved think it is.

    Really? You know this how? Do you have access to some super secret file of crime statistics being suppressed by the vast liberal conspiracy? Or are you just going with your gut feeling?

    Would anyone have bought into or accepted the university spokesperson’s explanation if the races of the students and the pinata were reversed?

    Probably not, since a the hula dancer would be a Polynesian archetype rather than African. Of course, this means that the original characterization of the Pinata as representing a “white” woman was misplaced as well. I suppose anyone who finds it credible that A university would hold a public event with black students beating an effigy of a white woman could be expected to overlook the obvious.

    Can you imagine the cops saying this if the attacker had been black and the crowd had been white?

    I don’t have to imagine it. I’ve seen just that sort statement made repeatedly. The police are always loath to label a crime as racially motivated regardless of the circumstances. What this has to do with the Trayvon Martin case, outside the limits of your own mindset, is hard to see.

  44. 45
    Elusis says:

    I do want to come back to the “pastoral counseling vs. mental health counseling” discussion, but a blog post on it is brewing, and I’m trying to get caught up on my new quarter’s classes while nursing the end of a campylobacter infection and the beginning of bronchitis (pro tip: I don’t recommend either).

    But I did want to drop this link off: Boston Commons Tea Party rally features Scott Lively, notorious anti-gay activist associated with Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law.

    This will perhaps continue to be a fissure between the libertarians which Johnson includes himself, and the social conservative factions of the tea party. The Boston Herald reported on the friction just weeks ago, specifically relative to this very event.

    “Several Tea Party groups across Massachusetts are dividing into two camps — those who want to focus on conservative economic issues and others who want to expand into social issues, such as illegal immigration and gay rights.”

  45. 46
    RonF says:

    W.B.Reeves:

    Really? You know this how? Do you have access to some super secret file of crime statistics being suppressed by the vast liberal conspiracy? Or are you just going with your gut feeling?

    By comparing the two sets of crime statistics. The NVCS – based on a general survey – is balanced approximately 50:50 between black-on-white crime and white-on-black crime as being racially motivated. The UCS – based on what police report as crimes – is skewed heavily towards white-on-black crimes being reported as racially motivated. Unless for some reason whites are far more reluctant to report being victimized by blacks than blacks are to report being victimized by whites, it appears that the cops are acting as a filter.

    Elusis:

    “Several Tea Party groups across Massachusetts are dividing into two camps — those who want to focus on conservative economic issues and others who want to expand into social issues, such as illegal immigration and gay rights.”

    The latter would be a mistake. The success of the Tea Party movement in influencing elections has been attributed in part to it’s avoidance of social issues, and I think that this is correct.

  46. 47
    Ampersand says:

    “professional race-baiters like Al Sharpton ”

    I’m curious, Ron. What the hell does this phrase mean?

    Are you saying that the Martin/Zimmerman case wouldn’t have been noticed by anyone or become a big deal if Sharpton hadn’t come along and “baited” people?

    Are you saying that it’s illegitimate for prominent Black anti-racism activists to be “professional,” that is, paid for the speaking and writing they do?

    ETA: Are you saying that you have some way of knowing the secret contents of Al Sharpton’s heart, and you know that he genuinely doesn’t believe that racism is a legitimate concern in the Martin case, and is lying when he talks about racism in relation to that case?

    Or are you just saying that you think name-calling is a legitimate and substantive mode of political discussion?

    Look at the Trayvon Martin case. So I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the UCR data to measure racially-motivated crime in the U.S.

    In the Trayvon Martin case, not only have police been loathe to call what happened a racially-motivated crime (afak, they still haven’t), they bent over backwards to avoid admitting that it was a crime at all. That you think a case of police trying their best to avoid calling shooting a black kid to death a crime, is a good example proving that cops are over-eager to label such events as racially motivated crimes, suggests that you may not be an objective observer.

    That said, I do think you’re right that the police and FBI (it’s the FBI that actually compiles the stats from police reports) are acting as some sort of filter. What we don’t know, from the info you Gin-and-Whiskey provides, is if they’re acting as an accurate or a distorting filter.

    (Edited to delete “the hell,” which was inappropriately strong language — sorry about that Ron!)

  47. 48
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Unless for some reason whites are far more reluctant to report being victimized by blacks than blacks are to report being victimized by whites, it appears that the cops are acting as a filter.

    Since there is no link provided, there’s no way to examine the data. What seems apparent from the above is that whatever the NVCS “general survey” is based on, it isn’t the results of documented police investigations. If this is so, it isn’t possible to draw any intelligent conclusions without knowing what criteria was in use. Unless, of course, one is simply seeking to buttress an existing prejudice. In which case facts are largely irrelevant. If you can post a link, I’ll be happy to examine the data.

    Amp, I spent a number of years investigating hate crimes and can attest that whether it was synagogues defaced with swastikas, property vandalize with racial slurs, or even physical assaults, the police always went with the default position that it was either kids misbehaving or the result personal hostility. Seldom, if ever, would they back off from this position without some sort of public outcry. Absent any statutory requirement, these crimes went onto the books as generic vandalism and assaults.

  48. 49
    RonF says:

    I mean that I have an extremely low opinion of Al Sharpton. I have no problem with Trayvon’s family objecting to how the local cops dealt with their son’s death, suspecting that racism might be involved and calling for the State or the Feds to investigate. I think that was a great idea. Those who joined in with the same call and who had a higher public profile that attracted enough attention to actually make that happen did a worthy service.

    But Al Sharpton and others like him didn’t need anything like facts or an investigation to proclaim that George Zimmerman was a white racist, that he had racially profiled Trayvon Martin and that this was a racist killing. I don’t know what is in Al Sharpton’s heart or mind. Whether he’s ignorant or deluded or a calculating self-promoting cynic doesn’t change the effect of what his actions do. He gains status from fighting racism so there’s racism everywhere he looks regardless of the truth. And when something like Tawana Brawley comes along and he grinds people’s life into dirt unjustifiably he evinces no care or regrets.

    I have no problem with people jumping up and saying “Hey, this doesn’t look right. This may have been an unjustified killing and it may even have been racist. Let’s get this out of the hands of the local cops who all know this guy and have worked with him and let’s have someone else have a look at it.” Put that petition in front of me and I’ll sign off.

    In the Trayvon Martin case, not only have police been loathe to call what happened a racially-motivated crime (afak, they still haven’t),

    See, this is the problem right here. That’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

    That you think a case of police trying their best to avoid calling shooting a black kid to death a crime, is a good example proving that cops are over-eager to label such events as racially motivated crimes

    Oh, no. I didn’t say that. I wasn’t referring to the actions of the cops. I’m referring to the actions of people like Al Sharpton doing their best to claim that something was definitely racially motivated before they actually know whether that’s true.

    As far as the cops’ actions in this case go, we don’t know yet whether or not it was even a crime. It may turn out that it was and that the local cops were complicit in covering it up. I’m not saying that’s not a possibility. Good Lord, I live near Chicago. Local cop corruption is definitely on the table. But in any case the cops shouldn’t charge George with having commited a racially-motivated crime unless they have evidence that it is. The bare fact that Trayvon is black and George is not isn’t enough to sustain a charge of racial motivation.

    But that’s not what’s happening. People like Al Sharpton are claiming this was racially motivated – helped along by the friendly editors at NBC Today – without waiting until all those pesky facts are known. They’re even making up racial classifications like “white Hispanic” so wrestle racism into this. That’s the problem.

  49. 50
    Ampersand says:

    I mean that I have an extremely low opinion of Al Sharpton.

    So do I. So what? I’m still not going to call him an expression based on his race.

    I’ve never seen a white activist called a “race hustler” or similar expressions. Those expressions seem to be used exclusively by conservatives when sneering at black activists. There are a thousand terms you could use to express your low opinion of Sharpton; you chose the one that denigrates the activity of being a black anti-racist activist. Instead, why not use terms that aren’t applied pretty much exclusively to insult black leaders (i.e., “dishonest,” “feckless,” “egotistical,” “carpet-bagger,” etc)?

    But Al Sharpton and others like him didn’t need anything like facts or an investigation to proclaim that George Zimmerman was a white racist, that he had racially profiled Trayvon Martin and that this was a racist killing.

    You’re one to talk. Where’s the direct quote from Sharpton in which he said this, preferably with a link to a reliable source? (I’ll give you a hand; Sharpton’s press releases are here.)

    And when something like Tawana Brawley comes along and he grinds people’s life into dirt unjustifiably he evinces no care or regrets.

    I agree that Sharpton acted badly in the Brawley case. But that was a quarter-century ago; he’s done things since then.

    Put that petition in front of me and I’ll sign off.

    Good for you. But did you lead that petition drive? Did you lead the other activist activities that brought national attention to this case, leading to Martin’s death being actually investigated? No, you didn’t (and neither did I). The people who did that hard work — mainly black activists — are people like Sharpton. (Although he was far from the only one, of course, or the most important one.) They deserve credit for that, not scorn.

    See, this is the problem right here. That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. They shouldn’t call this a racially-motivated crime until it’s shown – not suspected, but shown – that it is. But that’s not what’s happening.

    You’re dodging my point. My point was not that the police should be calling this a racial crime; my point was, for you to use Martin’s death as an example of the police being eager to label black-victim crimes as racially motivated, is ridiculous.

    They’re even making up racial classifications like “white Hispanic” so wrestle racism into this.

    The “white Hispanic” racial designation has existed for literally decades, and is familiar to anyone who follows these issues and reads social science and census papers.

    For me, I’m less interested in the question of whether or not Zimmerman was racist, than I am in why and how the police decided to give this death a pass prior to the national outcry.

  50. 51
    W.B. Reeves says:

    But Al Sharpton and others like him didn’t need anything like facts or an investigation to proclaim that George Zimmerman was a white racist, that he had racially profiled Trayvon Martin and that this was a racist killing.

    I’d like to see you produce a direct quote from Rev. Sharpton were he said the things you assert. Can you do that?

  51. 52
    Jake Squid says:

    I agree that Sharpton acted badly in the Brawley case.

    I’m not sure that I can agree with that. As I recall, Maddox and Mason were the ones who acted badly. Maddox, in fact, was suspended in relation to allegations about his conduct during the case. The reporting that I saw at that time strongly indicated that both Maddox and Mason knew it was a hoax but that Sharpton did not. It appeared that facts indicating the Brawley case was a hoax were kept from Sharpton. As a result, I tend to believe that Sharpton was fooled – like many others – but did not “act badly” in believing the allegations to be true and advocating for the justice he believed in. Otoh, I don’t recall Sharpton ever admitting he was wrong about the case.

  52. 53
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I thought the link was interesting. Whether you are for or against hate crime legislation it’s still interesting. However, the link contains FAR more information than my snippet. The linked post also has its own links IIRC, which would, similarly, contain more information.

    It would really be a mistake to conclude much of anything based on my snippet; all I was trying to do was to flag an interesting post of someone else.
    Amp, when you say

    That said, I do think you’re right that the police and FBI (it’s the FBI that actually compiles the stats from police reports) are acting as some sort of filter. What we don’t know, from the info you Gin-and-Whiskey provides, is if they’re acting as an accurate or a distorting filter.

    First of all, the NVCS states the criteria itself. (WB Reeves, what are you talking about when you say “no links?” not only did I link to the original post, but that post itself contains many links, including ones to the original sources.)

    NVCS defines it as “crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime.”

    Therefore, “police reported hate crime” is a subset of “NVCS reported hate crime.”

    In any case: police reports are almost certaily less accurate than self-reporting if what you are looking for is a victime perspective.

    If you’re looking for an objective analysis, police reports may appear better at first glance. Victims may experience things as hate crimes even when they fail to meet legal definitions of those crimes. We know that this happens for harassment, rape, and other crimes; there’s no logical reason to expect otherwise for hate crimes. “Police reported crime” is always a subset of “victim experienced crime.”

    But of course police actions tend to be heavily biased both by the desires of the police regarding punishment (should we punish that accused by arresting him?) and the motivations of the police w/r/t efficiency (can we convict that accused if we arrest him?) So that’s a problem, as it always is.

    In the end, I think the interesting question is whether folks are prepared to use a different analysis of the UCR/NVCS when looking at hate crimes versus, say, sexual assault.

  53. 54
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Since I wasn’t responding to your post but to Ron F’s assertions, you are mistaken in thinking that I had either read your post or was aware of the link. Now that you have pointed them out, I’ll have a look.

    That said, you seem to indicate that the NVCS elevates victim perception to equal status with independently verifiable evidence. As someone who has investigated allege hate crimes, I have to say that this raises red flags for me. I did such work for the better part of a decade, along with victims assistance and I can tell you from my own experience that such an equivalency in criteria pretty much guarantees a falsification of the data.

  54. 55
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    W.B. Reeves says:
    April 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Since I wasn’t responding to your post but to Ron F’s assertions, you are mistaken in thinking that I had either read your post or was aware of the link. Now that you have pointed them out, I’ll have a look.

    That might be a good idea. this is a thread format, so since

    That said, you seem to indicate that the NVCS elevates victim perception to equal status with independently verifiable evidence.

    I hate to say this again, but: what are you talking about?

    First of all, if i want to indicate something that specific, I’ll say it, thanks.

    Second: as i’ve said, the NVCS is a survey, not a legal document. It’s conducted by the census bureau. It may or may not be “independently verifiable evidence,” (did you mean to say verified instead of verifiable?) but as a practical matter nobody is trying to verify it so it doesn’t matter.

    As someone who has investigated allege hate crimes, I have to say that this raises red flags for me.

    OK. Why? What red flags? How do they affect the conclusion? how do they affect the proportions? What sort of experience do you have? How is it that you have such experience but also seem to know nothing about the distinction between the UCR and NCVS–and as such, is your experience really relevant to the discussion here?

    I can tell you from my own experience that such an equivalency in criteria pretty much guarantees a falsification of the data.

    Falsification, as in ‘deliberately attempting to mislead the surveyor?’ Or falsification, as in ‘listing something as a hate crime when the victim believed it to be a hate crime, although that would objectively not be accepted as one?’ I don’t see any particular reason to believe that the survey is significantly more prone to outright falsification than others. Do you?

  55. 56
    W.B. Reeves says:

    “crime is classified as hate crime if the victim perceived that the offender was motivated by bias because the offender used hate language, left behind hate symbols, or the police investigators confirmed that the incident was a hate crime.”

    Now as you yourself state, no is no one is trying to verify this data. So there is no way of evaluating the subjective perception of the victim. The quote clearly indicates that such subjective judgment is considered as on a par with an official police finding. That’s what I’m talking about.

    What sort of experience do you have? How is it that you have such experience but also seem to know nothing about the distinction between the UCR and NCVS–and as such, is your experience really relevant to the discussion here?

    Fair questions. In the first instance you can look here and here. In the second, my ignorance is probably due to the fact that when I was working in the field there was no such thing as a hate crimes law, so naturally there were no statistics being gathered on such.

    Or falsification, as in ‘listing something as a hate crime when the victim believed it to be a hate crime, although that would objectively not be accepted as one?’ I don’t see any particular reason to believe that the survey is significantly more prone to outright falsification than others. Do you?

    Although I have worked for the Census Bureau in the last two censuses, this last time as a supervisor, I really don’t think that Bureau is an effective tool for gathering this sort of data. There are problems with relying on police reports as well but at least they can provide some substantiation based on hard evidence.

    My reasons for this are, again, based on my own experience investigating such claims. People can and do believe themselves to be the victims of bias motivated crimes when there is a complete lack of evidence or when there isn’t even a crime as recognized by statute involved. We dealt with this problem constantly in our investigations and, yes, we even had a few cases where the allegations were complete fabrications.

  56. 57
    W.B. Reeves says:

    A further thought. You are quite right to twig me for overlooking your initial post. I did scan through the thread trying to find his reference but completely missed the fact that he was referring to a post of yours. That is entirely my fault and to the extent that it confused the discussion, I apologize.

  57. 58
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Now as you yourself state, no is no one is trying to verify this data. So there is no way of evaluating the subjective perception of the victim. The quote clearly indicates that such subjective judgment is considered as on a par with an official police finding. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Ah, now I see.

    Of course it’s not on par with LEGAL reality. That’s especially true because we define legal standards by the aggressor, not by the victim. A person’s experience of being victimized doesn’t mean that an aggressor intended to victimize them. Nor does it mean that the aggressor actually did anything in a manner that meets legal standards for defining an offense (even if the aggressor did actually intend to victimize them.)

    Obviously, legal standards don’t match reality, either. They’re just as arbitrary as anything else. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and all that.

    But in any case, i don’t think it’s really possible to accurately determine whether or not the NVCS is superior, inferior, or what have you. I think it’s more interesting to ask the question here:

    The NVCS is often discussed in the context of sexual assault. It’s widely cited as more accurate than the UCR, especially in more liberal/feminist circles. I suspect that almost everyone on this board (including me) believes that the NVCS numbers were superior to the UCR numbers when it comes to evaluating sexual assault.

    I’m interested in process–especially process which raises internal problems. If you really want to have a discussion about the validityof the NVCS, it’s important to do it when the results aren’t completely biased. This provides the “balance” to eliminate some of that bias: liberals would be predicted to like the NVCS sex crime stats, and to dislike the NVCS hate crime stats.

    If people believe the NVCS w/r/t to sex crime, do they also believe the NVCS w/r/t hate crime? If you believe the UCS w/r/t hate crime, do you also believe the UCS w/r/t sex crime? If you selectively believe the NVCS or UCS depending on the crime, what reason do you have for the discrepancy?

    As for me: I think that the NVCS leads to some percentage of over-reporting. But I think that it’s MORE accurate than the UCS, because police intervention can lead to really serious under-reporting

  58. 59
    Ampersand says:

    I suspect that almost everyone on this board (including me) believes that the NVCS numbers were superior to the UCR numbers when it comes to evaluating sexual assault.

    You’re attacking a straw man.

    Speaking as the person on this board who has posted the most often about rape prevalence statistics — in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m the ONLY current poster here who has written posts that go into the NCVS-vs-UCR weeds — I have a clear record of disliking both the NCVS and the UCR when it comes to rape prevalence. As I’ve posted in the past, I think the NCVS severely underestimates rape prevalence. I doubt you could find a single instance of me citing the NCVS as an example of a well-designed or accurate survey for the purpose of measuring sexual violence.

    It’s true that I think the NCVS numbers are better than the UCR numbers — but that doesn’t mean I think the NCVS’s numbers are good.

    So you’re wrong to imply that I’ve endorsed the NCVS — or that feminists who follow this issue closely endorse the NCVS. If anything, I think it’s fair to say that feminists who follow this issue closely would usually agree with me that the NCVS severely underestimates rape prevalence.

    * * *

    The NCVS is a large and complicated survey; a person could have a single, logically consistent set of standards and nonetheless conclude that the sections on X and Y are well-designed but the section on Z is poorly designed. Furthermore, not all crimes are best measured with the exact same instrument.

    In general, I do think the NCVS is probably the most accurate measure we have of many crimes. I’d trust it to measure muggings, for example. It’s just not very accurate regarding rape, because rape prevalence is unusually difficult to measure, and can’t be accurately measured using the NCVS’s methods.

    (I don’t know if the NCVS measure is good when it comes to hate crimes, because I’ve never looked into the question. So I’m not stating an opinion on that one way or the other.)

  59. 60
    Ampersand says:

    Okay, having read a bit more about the NCVS and hate crimes… I’m still not sure.

    The NCVS is not simply asking respondents for their subjective determination of if something was a hate crime:

    Hate-related victimizations are based on victims’ suspicion of the offenders’ motivation. However, the NCVS definition requires that victims’ suspicions be corroborated by at least one type of evidence that hate was the motivation, such as offenders’ use of hate language, hate symbols left at the scene, or the police investigators’ confirmation that a hate crime occurred.

    Unfortunately, other than saying that the most common corroborating evidence offered is “use of hate language,” the report doesn’t go into any detail as to exactly what that corroborating evidence is (what specific language is reported, for instance).

    This seemed worth quoting, just FYI (“y” in this case being anyone reading this thread):

    The NCVS estimates an annual average of 169,000 violent hate crime victimizations per year. When the UCR data are restricted to the types of violent crimes collected through the NCVS (rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), the UCR shows an average of 2,900 hate crime victims known to police. The large discrepancy can be accounted for in part by determining that 54% of victims in the NCVS did not report their crimes to the police, 12% stated that a complaint was signed, and 7% received confirmation from the police investigators that the crime was a hate crime. Once these factors are considered, the UCR estimate is no longer statistically different from the NCVS estimate due to the relatively large standard error associated with the NCVS estimate.

  60. 61
    Elusis says:

    A Change.org petition about a Cub Scout leader whom the Boy Scouts of America removed for being a lesbian (and possibly a whistleblower?).

    For whatever reason that link wants to go to the “petition updates,” not to the “About This Petition” page, so here’s what it says:

    My name is Jennifer Tyrrell. I am a devoted partner, mother, friend and community leader in Bridgeport, Ohio. I’m also a former Tiger Cub den leader with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I was recently removed from this volunteer position, and my membership was revoked after nearly a year of service – just because I happen to be gay.

    Shortly after registering my son for Cub Scouts, I was asked to assume the role of den leader and was persuaded by a platform of tolerance, acceptance and support. Throughout the year, my cubs performed volunteer service at a local soup kitchen, collected canned goods for area churches to distribute in food baskets, participated in bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, and, at the time of my removal, were working on a conservation project for a state park. My Tiger Cubs earned multiple Scout badges for service and skills, while learning and exercising the 12 Core Values of Scouting: citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health & fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect, and responsibility.

    The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did “not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.”

    There was an outcry of support for me by the parents of my Tiger Scouts, many of whom waited for hours to voice their concerns to members of the council and the pack’s charter organization, but were turned away without the opportunity to do so.

    It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders. Please sign this petition to call for an end of discrimination in an organization that is shaping the future.

  61. 62
    Myca says:

    Thanks for that link, Elusis. I signed.

    It’s really sad what’s happened to the BSA over the decades, as bigots took over. My father was a dedicated scout, as were many of his friends, and as a kid we’d go camping up at Silver Lake, near the BSA’s Camp Silverado, quite a bit. There was a little lake up there named for one of my dad’s friends who made Eagle back in the 60′s.

    But you know … it turns out that that friend, that Eagle scout, is gay. And he’s one of the best people I’ve known in my life. And a BSA that doesn’t want him can go fuck themselves, because they’re not worth a good goddamn.

    My dad was a scout. I was a scout.

    My kids will not be scouts, because I refuse to condone or participate in their ritualized child abuse. Which is what teaching homophobia to children is.

    I’m a youth group leader, so I know how hollow all of the bullshit justifications about preventing violence and avoiding possible romance ring. I’ve gone camping regularly with our group … our group which has had gay, straight, and bi youth and gay, straight, and bi advisors, and violence has never been a problem.

    But, then, we don’t teach our youth that there’s something wrong with being gay, so I can see how the BSA might be scared that their kids might listen to the words they say.

    —Myca

  62. 63
    RonF says:

    That’s going nowhere. If the BSA survived the outcry from Dale vs. BSA, a change.org petition isn’t going to make much difference.

    What this sounds like to me is a) she was appointed Pack Treasurer (it’s appointed, not elected), b) she uncovered irregularities in the Pack’s finances, c) she reported it to the Council, and then d) someone whose reputation (at the very least) was threatened by that finked her out to the local Council. Asshole. I wonder if she went to the person involved, the Pack leadership and the chartered organization representative first (which would be the usual process). Of course, the latter two may have been in on the deal ….

    I feel sorry for her. I hope that the Council looks into the financial irregularities and that if there truly is something wrong then whoever is responsible gets nailed.

    Interesting that the chartering organization didn’t want to listen to them. That’s their job. One possibility is that it’s very common that a CO really pays little attention to a unit other than letting them meet on the property and signing the charter once a year. Such a CO would not want to get involved in dealing with financial irregularities and the personnel issues that come from them. Another possibility is that either or both the group itself or the people in it are social conservatives and don’t like the idea of a lesbian being a leader of their kids. And – finally – people active in the CO may be involved in the financial irregularities.

    Understand, too, that a Cub Scout Pack isn’t exactly high finance and is run by amateurs, so “financial irregularities” may simply be sloppy bookkeeping rather than fraud or theft.

  63. 64
    Myca says:

    If the BSA survived the outcry from Dale vs. BSA

    Considering how their membership has dropped over the past decade, I’m not sure I’d use the term “survive” so blithely.

    —Myca

  64. 65
    Elusis says:

    Anybody know where the Catholics and Mormons are sending their girls, since the whole “Well the BSA can’t be pro-gay because they’d lose the religious conservatives” thing doesn’t seem to have kept the Girl Scouts from being GLBT friendly?

  65. 66
    Robert says:

    Myca, are you under the impression that there was some period in Scouting when openly gay boys and were openly welcomed? (There may well have been incidences of quiet toleration, in the era when homosexuality was totally socially invisibled).

    If not, then why do you describe the organization as being taken over by bigots? Was there some big demographic shift?

  66. 67
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Amp, You’re right in noting that the NVCS doesn’t go go into detail as to corroboration but it’s more problematic than that. Based on the description of criteria given it’s conceivable that the responses consist of nothing more than an affirmative or negative reply. For example: “Based on the the criteria, have you been the victim of a hate crime? If yes, which criteria did you use to determine the nature of the crime? (check all that apply.)” If this turns out to be so, there really isn’t anything underpinning the data other than the good faith/comprehension of the respondent. This is important to bear in mind because there is a great deal of popular confusion of what a hate crime is. This is due in no small part to the propaganda of opponents of hate crimes laws. There has been a consistent tendency to describe such laws as criminalizing the free expression of opinion. This has led many people to imagine that the verbal expression of racial animus or prejudice in and of itself constitutes a hate crime.

    The fact that 54% of the respondents never reported the alleged crimes to the police pretty much disposes of the notion that the data reveals any “filtering” of crime stats by the cops. One more instance of “white victimization” debunked.

    Gin and whiskey, You pose a valid query, unfortunately one that I’m not competent to address. I have no expertise in researching or documenting sexual assaults and, as you can see from the above, my doubts about the data on hate crimes have as much to do with ambiguities that are particular to such crimes as they do with the subjective character of the responses. I’m not sure that similar ambiguities would attach to the question of whether or not one has been raped or otherwise assaulted.

  67. 68
    Elusis says:

    Newest open thread I could find, so here I shall post.

    Apparently the Catholic bishops are now calling the Girl Scouts on the carpet for refusing to act like the religious organization they’re not.

    I remember asking the question a while back, why is it that the Boy Scouts have had to adopt such an anti-gay position because so many troops are sponsored by churches, but the Girl Scouts haven’t faced the same pressure? I guess the question is now a bit moot, but I’m going to float the theory that the whole “gay men = gross butt sex = child molesters” thing is what ramped the pressure up on the fellas first.

  68. 69
    RonF says:

    There are a couple of very distinct differences between the structures of the GSUSA and the BSA.

    The BSA works on a chartering/franchise model. A community organization – a church, a PTO, a Lions Club, an American Legion post, etc. – signs an agreement with a local BSA Council. The organization agrees to operate a BSA unit in accord with both it’s own and the BSA’s standards, provide meeting space, select and monitor the units leaders and program, etc. The BSA provides the framework of the program, guidance, etc. The sponsor can abandon the charter whenever it likes, or the BSA can withdraw it. But no sponsor, no unit.

    The GSUSA, OTOH, owns the units. The relationship between it and the sponsor is much looser and the responsibility for selecting leadership and running things is far more on the side of the GSUSA. So if the sponsor takes a walk the unit can still operate if they can find a meeting space.

    BTW, the GSUSA is part of a world-wide organization called WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts). As a member of that organization, it agrees upon certain fundamental principles of Girl Scouting. One of those is that the member organizations will hold as a fundamental principle that their members will all agree that they have a duty to God. So when the GSUSA a while back took “God” out of their oath WAGGGS called them on the carpet. GSUSA told WAGGGS that this was not an attempt to permit atheists to join, but was done because not all their members were comfortable with using the word “God” to represent their spirituality. WAGGGS bought this. But – well, let’s just say that it appears that the GSUSA has been less than straightforward about implementation.

    he bottom line is that the difference between the GSUSA and the BSA in this regard is that the BSA has been truthful to all concerned regarding it’s principles and it’s agreements, whereas the GSUSA appears to have been dishonorable. So the Catholic bishops have a valid argument.

  69. 70
    RonF says:

    The Mormons have NEVER sent their girls to the GSUSA. The GSUSA teaches young women that the ultimate fufillment of their role in society need not be to be the center of a mom+dad+numerous_children family, which is at variance with the LDS concept of such things. I’m sure they have some kind of organization, but I have no idea what it is.

  70. 71
    RonF says:

    Membership in pretty much everything has dropped over the last decade or so. Scouting is smaller than it used to be but it’s holding it’s own. Plenty of adults are seeking out the kind of program for their kids that Scouting provides.

  71. 72
    nobody.really says:

    Among the other differences between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts:

    The Girl Scout Promise states, “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country….”

    The Boy Scout Oath states, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country….”

    Note that the girls promise to serve. Boys merely make the tautological promise to “do my duty.” In other words, boy scouts affirm their obligation to do something – provided you can demonstrate that they have an obligation to do something.

    Moral: The boys have better lawyers.

  72. 73
    RonF says:

    That’s what the GSUSA oath says on paper. However, in actual practice (and this is no secret, it’s written policy) the girls can either a) substitute the name of some other deity for the word “God”, or b) not say it at all and say “To serve … my country”. The concept is that, for example, an Islamic young woman may wish to say “To serve Allah …”. Another concept was that some kids might find the word “God” too sacred to say. All of which is fine by me and WAGGGS as long as it’s not used as an end run to admit atheists. But if the GSUSA is in fact admitting atheists then they are violating the agreement they have with WAGGGS.

    The Scout Oath that the BSA uses was written back in 1910, was adapted from the Scout Oath in use by the British Boy Scouts then and had nothing to do with any current or anticipated lawsuits.

  73. 74
    Eytan Zweig says:

    I have to say, if God does sue the boyscouts for having an unsatisfactory oath, that would be a rather interesting development.

    RonF – your wording implies that you object to admitting atheists to the GSUSA. Is it just because they have previously agreed not to do so and have not openly changed their mind? Or do you feel that atheists are somehow inappropriate in a scouting context?

    (I’ve never been either an atheist or in any type of scouting organisation, I should point out, so I am honestly not sure what the relationship is between theism and scouting)

  74. 75
    RonF says:

    From the link Elusis posted:

    One of the long-running concerns is the Girl Scouts’ membership in the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The association, known as WAGGGS, is on record as saying girls and young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.” It also has called for increased access to condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

    This is something that’s come up at World Jamborees, when Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts from all over the world (from Scouting associations that are members of WOSM, not WAGGGS) meet every 4 years. The host organization hands out a parcel of orientation materials, etc. to all attendees. But the BSA goes through the parcels first, because the parcels contain (among many other things) condoms, and the BSA pulls those out. Which I personally think is pretty stupid. Besides, I want some official Scouting condoms! “Hey, honey, look – I”m still in uniform!”

    Even in the face of criticism, the Boys Scouts stand by their policy of excluding atheists and barring gays from leadership roles. The Girl Scouts have no such policies.

    Hm. Neither WOSM (World Organization of Scouting Movements, which most Scouting organizations belong to, including the BSA) nor WAGGGS (which the GSUSA belongs to and which does NOT admit co-ed Scouting organizations) take a position on homosexual membership. But both require their membership organizations to require their members to acknowledge a duty to God (or whatever deity or deities they recognize or what spiritual discipline they profess). If the GSUSA is openly admitting atheists – which I’m not aware of – then they are in fact openly violating their agreement with WAGGGS. Not that the author of this article couldn’t be wrong about that.

  75. 76
    RonF says:

    Whoops.

  76. 77
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    An outstanding first person account, by an ex prosecutor, of being arrested in Manhattan.

    read the whole thing.

    http://cityintrouble.blogspot.com/2012/05/face-of-evil.html?m=1

  77. 78
    RonF says:

    Wow. Not unexpected, but still noteworthy. Kind of foolish for him to do a hunger strike, but overall not the way things should be done.

    Here’s a concept – let someone in charge of corrections put themselves in the same position and see for themselves what’s going on.

  78. 79
    RonF says:

    Remember all the controversy a while back about how Republicans were inciting violence when a map was put up “targeting” certain States for action and how that led to the kind of environment that encouraged shooting Democratic politicians? Remember how we were told that the GOP needed to be held accountable for that?

    Here, then, is a fine example of the “new civility”. I don’t think anyone’s going to be confused about the political loyalties of Donna Dewitt. She’s the President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, and no fan of the Governor of South Carolina, Nikky Haley. Have a look at this video and you can see just how little she thinks of the Governor. It’ll be interesting to see what reaction there is in the media and how much it publicizes this. Care to predict? Or what would happen if this involved a Democratic Governor and someone who very publicly supported business interests and Republican politicians?

  79. 80
    Jake Squid says:

    Yeah, RonF, that’s a despicable act and should be condemned. I’m against any kind of violence in effigy that isn’t clearly satire. I’ve seen the effect it has on people and there is no doubt in my mind that it is an obvious threat of violence. It has no other purpose than intimidation. Donna Dewitt should be removed from her position unless she makes a sincere apology for beating Haley in effigy. Even then, it may be appropriate for her to be removed from her position as President of the SC AFL-CIO.

  80. 81
    RonF says:

    I appreciate that, Jake.

  81. 82
    Elusis says:

    Yeah, definitely a “get off my side” moment. Very inappropriate and not OK.

  82. 83
    W.B. Reeves says:

    You got a “thing” for pinatas?

    I gave you the benefit of a doubt and clicked on the link. What you’ve got is a video of an apparently small cook out/picnic where a pinata with a photo of Gov. Nikki Haley taped to it. The woman manages to knock it down but it doesn’t break open. So she continues hitting until it does break, which is what the whole point of Pinata is. There’s no indication that it was a public, much less a news event. Nor is there any indication that the event had any connection with the State or National Democratic Party or any of its candidates.

    You want to compare this to a former GOP Vice Presidential Candidate posting a map on a website designating targeted Democrats by placing rifle sights on their respective locations. Not bulls eyes; rifle sights. This doesn’t even pass the giggle test.

    If your point is that both are expressions of political hostility, I would agree; in the same way that tossing a fire cracker and a drone strike can both be expressions of hostility. The false equivalency is so blatant that I’m amazed that you posted this.

  83. 84
    Jake Squid says:

    The woman manages to knock it down but it doesn’t break open. So she continues hitting until it does break, which is what the whole point of Pinata is.

    And then, after it does break… she continues to hit it as off camera folks urge her to, “Give her another one for me!”

    Good news, though! I hadn’t read the description. It’s a retirement reception for Dewitt. I guess I don’t need to call for her resignation. So, it was a politically motivated act at a party for an organization that is prominently involved in politics that involved beating an effigy of one of their foes.

    But, sure, there’s no threat of violence and, surely, it can’t be found intimidating by its target.

    Perhaps it’s just that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person how an effigy effects its victim that’s given me a different view of the act.

    I don’t think I could disagree with you more, W.B.

  84. 85
    W.B. Reeves says:

    So you think that this is on a par with what Sarah Palin did? You think it carries exactly the same weight?

  85. 86
    Jake Squid says:

    They both carry enough weight to be condemned. The two acts are different from each other, certainly. Both are methods of intimidation by invoking violence. Sarah Palin certainly held a much more visible and powerful position so, in that way, Palin’s call to violence has more heft. The difference is in relative influence rather than the malignance of the act. If I try to intimidate you by threat of violence, that’s certainly going to do less harm than either Palin or Dewitt. Does that make my intimidation unworthy of condemnation? I don’t think so.

    Intimidation is intimidation is intimidation. Sucks when someone representing an ally on our side does it. So what to do? Unlike those on the right who excused Palin’s targets for their various reasons, I will condemn the bad acts of those who are more or less aligned with me. I don’t want ‘em.

  86. 87
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Excuse me but how does a party game at a retirement party add up to intimidation? There’s absolutely nothing to indicate that this was anything more than hijinks intended to entertain invited guests. Are you suggesting that the whole thing was staged just so they could post the video on line for purposes of intimidation? If not, how could it have been intended as intimidation? I doubt that Governor Haley or any of her supporters were in attendance. Where’s the threat?

  87. 88
    mythago says:

    Or what would happen if this involved a Democratic Governor and someone who very publicly supported business interests and Republican politicians?

    Blah blah thin skinned blah politically correct blah blah manufactured outrage. That’s what would happen.

    That said, I agree with Jake.

  88. 89
    Robert says:

    Today, my friends and I are going to have a W.B. Reeves Murder Party. We’re going to make a mannequin with your likeness, then “kill” the mannequin in various ways. We’ll be taping it, and some of us will put the videos up on the Internet.

    Would you feel intimidated by this, when you heard about it? We didn’t invite YOU to the party, or any of your friends. Intimidating you wasn’t the main goal of the party. It was just hijinks for our own amusement.

    How about a group of Klansmen, burning a cross out in the woods somewhere? No black people were invited. They didn’t even tape the burning. It was purely hijinks for the amusement of the local Klan; a practice burning, if you like. Are the black people in the nearby town wrong to feel intimidated when they hear stories about the burning?

  89. 90
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Mythago,

    You can imagine whatever you like, speculate as you wish. The facts remain what they are. There’s no practical comparison between the intent and impact of a multi-million dollar political campaign fronted by a former candidate for Vice President for the express purpose of whipping up political passions and a private retirement party for a local Union Official. We wouldn’t even be talking about the latter if someone hadn’t taken it upon themselves to record it with a video phone and post it online. We have no idea who said person is , what their motive was or if they asked anyone for permission to do what they did. In contrast, the Palin map was designed by paid professionals and calculated for maximum exposure with the intent to influence the widest number possible. If you think that the assumption of Liberal bias, were the tables turned, outweighs such concrete realities, I can’t imagine what might convince you otherwise.

    Robert,

    When you can’t make your case based on what is actually under discussion and you’re forced to resort to flights of fancy, it’s a fair indication that you haven’t much of an argument to make.

    Right out of the gate you falsify the debate. No one is talking about “Let’s murder so-and-so” parties but you. What’s under discussion is a video of some tasteless behavior at a retirement party that, as far as anyone knows, was never intended for public consumption.

    Evidently the reality is too bland for you so you prefer to gussy things up.

    Dragging the Klan comparison in is colorful but equally flawed. The whole purpose of a cross burning is to frighten and threaten just as the whole purpose of the Palin operation was to incite political passions. Nothing that’s been presented here provides any basis for thinking that the party participants were intent on doing anything other than entertaining themselves.

    As someone who has been the recipient of actual Klan death threats and having known numerous others in the same boat, who have endured real campaigns of violence and intimidation, I find this kind of false comparison particularly laughable.

  90. 91
    Jake Squid says:

    Does it deserve the same level of coverage as Palin’s campaign? No.

    Does it deserve the same condemnation as Palin’s campaign? Yes.

  91. 92
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Jake,

    I get the impression that you’re making a metaphysical moral judgement here. That is, you believe that since both instances involve political hostility and violent imagery that they morally identical. This has a certain abstract validity, so long as you exclude all consideration of intent and practical outcomes. By this standard you could argue that there is no moral distinction to be made between, say, Bernie Madoff and someone who shoplifts a loaf of bread.

    For myself, I don’t believe there can be a valid morality that excludes intent and practical outcomes. Morality isn’t measured by abstract systems alone but by intent and the material effects of the actions taken. If you want to condemn the party goers for offending your sense of propriety, fine. However, let’s not pretend that there is an equivalence either in intent or potential.

  92. 93
    Jake Squid says:

    While I don’t believe that a system of morality can ignore intent, I do think that practical outcome does not play a large part in whether something is more or less moral than some other thing.

    I certainly do believe that there is an equivalency in intent between Palin’s actions & Dewitt’s actions. Both are attempts at intimidation by invoking the specter of violence.

    I do not believe that there is a great moral distinction between the woman who stabs me with a knife and the woman who shoots me with a gun. One clearly has more potential for harm than the other but the intent is the same.

  93. 94
    Jake Squid says:

    I am fairly certain that I did not articulate my position well in the last comment, but I hope that I was clear enough. In particular, my statement about practical outcome is phrased horribly but I’m unable to formulate my feelings coherently on that at the moment.

  94. 95
    Simple Truth says:

    If Cracked is any indication, gunshots and stab wounds are less fatal than you might think.

    (This isn’t saying anything about the content of your post, Jake Squid. It just prodded a random connection in my mind. I hope you don’t mind.)

  95. 96
    Robert says:

    WB, I recognize that my example is not the same as the scenario that happened here. My point was not that it was the same scenario, my point was that some of your defenses of the actual act are non-operative as defenses. “I didn’t mean for you to see the threats against you” and “we were just having some fun” don’t wash. I agree with Jake; these aren’t at the same level as some other things that have occurred, but they are at the level that they should be roundly condemned. And I appreciate Jake’s roundly condemning them.

    I think it’s awful that you’ve faced death threats or other forms of threatened violence intended to intimidate; I wouldn’t accept your defenses of this act as defenses of the actions against you. I don’t think you should either.

  96. 97
    Stefan says:

    ‘The Demise of Guys’: How video games and porn are ruining a generation

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/23/health/living-well/demise-of-guys/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

    The consequences could be dramatic: The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.