Open thread and link farm: Rainy Day Edition

  1. Echidne does a wonderful (and lengthy) job responding to Christina Hoff Sommers on the gender wage gap. I can’t wait till part 2.
  2. Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars | The Nation This is certainly the most talked-about article within online feminism this month.
  3. There were many, many responses to Michelle Goldberg’s “Toxic Twitter” articles, but my favorite was a three-post series on the blog Nuclear Unicorn (written by someone who was quoted in, but still critical of, Goldberg’s article): Words, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism, followed by Beyond Niceness: Further Thoughts on Rage and then the longest and (for me, at least) most interesting one, The Chapel Perilous: On the Quiet Narratives in the Shadows./a>
  4. I also really liked this post by Verónica Bayetti Flores: On cynicism, calling out, and creating movements that don’t leave our people behind.
  5. She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She’s Speaking Out. Excellent article about harassment in tech/gaming industries – although frankly the lessons apply just as well to many other industries (comics comes to mind).
  6. Judge sentences woman for 300 days for talking back to him. Did the judge, watching Breakfast Club, think Paul Gleason’s character was supposed to be a role model?
  7. Confessions of a Former Lane Bryant Employee: What I Learned From Selling Clothes to Other Fat Women | xoJane
  8. Chart of the Day: Everyone Agrees That Iraq Was a Disaster | Mother Jones
  9. No, no, no: pick-up artists and rape manuals – Blog – The F-Word
  10. “…an opportunity to climb is no real answer for people at the bottom. A perfectly fair race is, in at least one important way, the same as a rigged race: Both have a first-place finisher and a last-place finisher. The question of what happens to the person at the bottom genuinely matters.”
  11. Fox News: Boogeyman Of The Liberals. A right-wing writer thinks FOX has stopped mattering. I thought his point about how his kids haven’t learned to be okay with commercial breaks on TV is perhaps even more true of laugh tracks, which are now becoming unwatchable. Except then I realized that one of the few places you’ll still find laugh tracks is on Disney Channel sitcoms.
  12. What The Biggest Loser is Really About | Dances With Fat
  13. Freaked Out By Rachel Fredrickson’s Biggest Loser Win? Read This. — Body Love Wellness
  14. FL: 11th Circuit Throws Out Death Sentence After Prosecutor Cites Biblical References in Sentencing Phase | The Open File
  15. In defense of the word “Creep,” with gifs
  16. Virginia prosecutors lie and cover up evidence to execute Justin Wolfe | a public defender
  17. The Grand Jury Voting on One Case Every 52 Seconds – The Daily Beast Oddly, the author seems to be calling for doing away with the Grand Jury system, rather than reforming it so it can serve its intended function. (Via.)
  18. “Victim’s Rights” are only respected by prosecutors when the victim and his loved ones are pro-death penalty.
  19. “Privilege” doesn’t mean having it easy
  20. DC judge denies defendants’ motion to dismiss Michael Mann’s defamation complaint | Climate Science Watch
  21. The cost of keeping prisoners hundreds of miles from home
  22. We are respectable negroes: Pedagogical Failures: Would You Show a “Satirical” Film as a Way of Encouraging High School Students to Discuss Racism and Slavery?
  23. Which Woody Allen movie is your favorite? Dylan Farrow’s story of being sexually abused by Woody Allen.
  24. Certain primates, though, have evolved to see a third: red. It turns out that these primates—humans, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, to name some—all have one thing in common: bare-skinned faces.”
  25. How Dianne Feinstein Exaggerates Global Terrorism – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic
  26. In the same week it was announced that one of the actual Boston bombers will face the death penalty if convicted, ESPN has released a mini-documentary about Richard Jewell, a man who actually saved lives on that fateful day, and then had his life utterly ruined.
  27. EconoMonitor : Ed Dolan’s Econ Blog » Could We Afford a Universal Basic Income? (Part 2 of a Series)
  28. The Myth Of The Absent Black Father | ThinkProgress
  29. A Trove of History As 1970s Housewives Lived It – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic
  30. Taxing Or Criticizing The Rich Is Just Like The Holocaust
  31. Dirty Energy Job Numbers Don’t Add Up | DeSmogBlog
  32. Fleeing man shot to death for trespassing on someone’s lawn. Yay gun culture!
  33. Socialized Law
: A Radical Solution for Inequality | New Republic
  34. The worst/best lawyer ad ever:

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160 Responses to Open thread and link farm: Rainy Day Edition

  1. 101
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Jake Squid – the quote given by nobody.really to illustrate the linked article is actually what the article is arguing against, not for.

  2. 102
    Jake Squid says:

    Ah, ha! I’m still confused by the claim, though.

  3. 103
    RonF says:

    Eytan:

    What I find chilling is how much people living in a democracy are afraid of their own government.

    Re-read your history. Our entire system of government was designed on the basis that government in general was to be feared, and that it was therefore to be placed under the control of the people and to have multiple and numerous checks on its power. Their fear of government power was not based on the actions of one particular English monarch and his actions, but on their understanding of how governments had acted throughout human history, even in such putatively democratic governments such as Athens. Aggrandizement and abuse of power by governments was not something they viewed as unique to a particular place and time or to a particular form of government. They viewed it as something common to all forms of government at all times and that it would be inevitable in the future, even in the one they were developing, unless the people remained vigilant, educated and active. Benjamin Franklin was prescient when, upon being asked what kind of government the new nation was to have, he answered “A Republic, Madam – if you can keep it.”

    I see nothing to indicate that their understanding of government was wrong. It’s foolish to think that since we live in a democracy we have nothing to fear from our government. Trusting government is irresponsible and un-American, as far as I can see.

  4. 104
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    closetpuritan says:
    March 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm
    Massachusetts court says ‘upskirt’ photos are legal

    Or, as you more accurately summazized, that the law-as-written had a loophole which didn’t make them obviously criminal.

    It sounds like the judge probably made the correct decision given the way that the law is currently written,

    Yes.

    but I was surprised at the amount of pushback I got on changing the law to make upskirt photos illegal when I linked the story on FaceBook.

    Well, I don’t generally trust people to write the law correctly. Nor do I have faith in the approproate balance, since the history of “but it’s for a good cause!” laws is, well, filled with a lot of bad laws. To the extent that folks want to write a law when they’re up in arms about an issue, they don’t tend to do a good job considering the other side.

    Comments like, “this one would be difficult to enforce without opening attacks on other public filming.”

    Correct. It is very, very, difficult to enforce content-based restrictions properly.

    It may not seem apparent at first, but this is a content based restriction: A given behavior (taking pictures of people) in a given place (public, at least in theory,) in a given manner (surreptitiously) is illegal if it contains a particular type of content (butt crack) but not if it contains other content (breasts).

    I think laws such as the one in Indiana are both clear and limited in scope.

    They are if you assume that everyone will agree on what everything means. they aren’t as clear if you assume otherwise.

    I could probably think of some hypotheticals which would technically be prosecutable but which, in your view, shouldn’t be a felony. Like most folks in favor of such laws you would probably say something like “that’s silly, nobody would be prosecuted under that” at which point I would point you to Eytan’s post as an example of people’s desire to use force to chill speech, and would explain that, as it happens, the establishment will generally use whatever power it has to the maximal degree necessary to target whoever is currently in its sights.

    I don’t have the time to go into this in detail. But consider this: Mary’s hated ex-boyfriend and un-convicted-date-rapist Bill is walking down the hall in front of Mary. Bill bends over to pick up his crack pipe, accidentally exposing his hairy ass due to his saggy pants. Mary, who despises Bill for VERY well-founded reasons which you would totally agree with, snaps a photo and sends it to her friend Jane, who also hates Bill.

    If Mary lives in Indiana, should Mary go to jail as a felon?

  5. 105
    Eytan Zweig says:

    RonF – Why would I need to re-read my history, exactly? I personally have read enough to believe that the resemblance between your views on government and that of your founding fathers is superficial – you use the same terminology but mean very different things. But even if I am entirely wrong about that – and I certainly am open to the possibility that I am – that doesn’t change the fact that in my opinion, your view of government is unhealthy and in many ways responsible for the fact that you ended up with a government that acts in a way that is very different from what you desire. Whether I’m just disagreeing with you or if I’m also disagreeing with the American founding fathers makes no difference to my own views.

    In any case, this is not something we can fruitfully debate. One thing we can both agree on, I think, is that I probably don’t belong in America, which is good because I don’t live there and have no interest in ever doing so again.

    My point to G&W was simply to refute his implied accusation of hypocrisy. I understand that neither of you agree with my opinion. I’d rather not be told that my own opinion is not actually what I say it is.

  6. 106
    RonF says:

    Eytan, what country do you live in?

    Why do you think my views on government are unhealthy – again, setting aside the issue of whether or not they accurately reflect the American Founders?

    And I must say I’ve found it quite interesting when travelling in foreign countries that the people there seem to think they know more about American history than Americans do – but would get highly offended if I would claim to know more about their history than they do.

  7. 107
    Sebastian says:

    Because most foreigners who think they know more about American history than an American of your age are dumb, and dumb people get offended easily when provoked, which you did by claiming that you know more about their history than they do. Because you said that to provoke them, right? Not because you actually thought you did, I hope.

    Because if you are getting all of your history from American media, you may have a rather strange view of world history. And if you, as I expect, are not, I still think that the claim is a bit too much to swallow in most cases.

    Less than two hours ago, I had a conversation with an 24 year old American with a college degree who saw me read an original IMT manual, and decided that I because I am reading a foreign language I must be deeply concerned and intimately familiar with the situation in Crimea… despite my being black, and the language being Italian (which he ‘identified’ as French)

    At some point, he said, and I am quoting as closely as I remember it “I hope we do not have to send troops to Ukraine again, to stop the genocide like we did in the 90s’.

    After a bit of work from my part, I realized that he is confusing the Russian Empire takeover of Crimea with the Armenian genocide, the Crimea war of the 1850s with the NATO intervention in Bosnia, Tatars with Turks, and believed that Crimea was originally! settled by the Ottomans (whom he referred to as the Muslim Caliphate)

    This guy is neither dumb, nor uneducated, but he, like practically all Americans I know, does not care much about matters that don’t personally affect him. The mishmash in his head is due to the totally ridiculous way American media brings ‘historical facts’ in favour of whomever they are supporting today. In a effort to make a very complex situation into a clear bad guy/good guy narrative, mass media is confusing those who aren’t actively seeking out the information themselves.

  8. 108
    Eytan Zweig says:

    RonF – I live in England, though I’m originally from Israel.

    I don’t claim to know more about American history than Americans do – in fact, I’m quite ignorant of large swaths of it. And I won’t be offended if you tell me you know more about British history, or Israeli history, than I do.

    As for why I think your views are unhealthy – the short answer is that I believe that the only way to stop the government being corrupted is to continually demand of it that it serves the people, and never allow it to stop doing so. Insisting that the government stay out of people’s lives is counter-productive as it doesn’t weaken the government, it just transforms it from a government that governs for the people’s sake, to a government that governs for governing’s sake.

  9. 109
    closetpuritan says:

    Massachusetts court says ‘upskirt’ photos are legal

    Or, as you more accurately summazized, that the law-as-written had a loophole which didn’t make them obviously criminal.

    I’m not sure what your point is. That you didn’t think it was clearly legal? If something is not illegal, it’s legal by default, and after the judge’s ruling it was clearly legal.

    If Mary lives in Indiana, should Mary go to jail as a felon?

    I don’t think she could be prosecuted successfully under the law. ‘Peep’ is defined as “any looking of a clandestine, surreptitious, prying, or secretive nature.” I don’t think the situation you described is secretive/prying/surreptitious/clandestine. But that reading of the law may not be obvious enough to prevent it being tried. That said, although I’m very concerned with free speech in the sense of ‘exchange of ideas’, I’m not concerned about making sure people can intentionally take photos of parts of other people’s bodies without their consent. Your rights end where others’ rights begin. I’m not interested in making sure actions like Mary’s are protected speech. Bill is a very unsympathetic victim, but if Mary decided to vandalize his car out of revenge she also wouldn’t be protected under the law.

    I mean, this is a small addition to the laws we already have, and the laws we already have about non-consensual viewing/photography of nude people in their own homes, locker rooms, etc., have not prevented pornography, sex-ed book and films, etc., etc. from existing. Do you wish to repeal those laws?

    It’s not as though all our laws are completely black-and-white now; many of them have ‘reasonable person’ standards, for example. I think this law is clearer than many.

  10. 110
    closetpuritan says:

    I liked nobody.really’s Atlantic article. For a while after I first heard of the concept of cultural appropriation, I was pretty sure I disagreed with it, but what was happening was the examples I was seeing were mostly stupid examples like “white women performing belly dance”. While Ozy Frantz had a blog post-GMP, there were some good examples on that blog. I’m still not sure how helpful a concept it is; most of the examples I agree are wrong are basically examples where an individual artist is taking credit for or not compensating people for the stuff that is being borrowed, and racism/misunderstanding is adding insult to injury.

  11. 111
    closetpuritan says:

    I can actually more easily think of hypothetical things-I-wouldn’t-want-restricted for the old peeping Tom law than the new version. (Maybe there’s police brutality that happens to take place in a locker room?) But it’s hard for me to think of a situation where recording police brutality would need to take place under the police officer’s clothing. Maybe if you’re lying on the ground… but in that case, I think that “clandestine” would once again not apply, because you would be able to see, not just the camera. Maybe with just the right position, if you were lying down and being kicked, you would not be able to see, but the camera would, but if you wanted to see the kicking instead of underwear then the underwear wouldn’t be what you’re aiming at… I think we’re getting pretty darn hypothetical here, and meanwhile there are many real people whose rights are being violated.

  12. 112
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Eytan Zweig says:
    March 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm
    My point to G&W was simply to refute his implied accusation of hypocrisy. I understand that neither of you agree with my opinion. I’d rather not be told that my own opinion is not actually what I say it is.

    I’m sorry, I thought I specifically responded to that:

    If I was wrong, I apologize. I tend to run into a LOT (vast understatement) of hypocrisy in this particular arena, and tend to be unusually sensitive to looking at it. Much of it comes from misclassification. E.g. people are consistent in saying “the police should only look into things which are serious” or “we should only go against the FA if it is really really important” but then, as it happens, all of the things which are “serious” and “really really important” are all on their preferred side of the political spectrum. To go a bit farther, I’d say that many people don’t even realize they’re doing it.

  13. 113
    nobody.really says:

    On Hollywood stereotyping:

    Being fat is an advantage. It’s a clear type, and it opens the door to lots of roles. I tend to play what I like to call “slightly failed” people. Maybe it’s a cliché that fat people are underachievers, but, hey, we’re not making documentaries here.

    The people I feel most sorry for are those in the 18-25 age range who are beautiful. They, of course, have their type, too, but there are about a million of them going up for each job. The benefit of being a morbidly obese type is that my competition is dying off on a daily basis.

  14. 114
    RonF says:

    Eytan:

    the short answer is that I believe that the only way to stop the government being corrupted is to continually demand of it that it serves the people, and never allow it to stop doing so.

    Which sounds a whole lot like what I said: “was therefore to be placed under the control of the people and to have multiple and numerous checks on its power.”

    Insisting that the government stay out of people’s lives is counter-productive as it doesn’t weaken the government, it just transforms it from a government that governs for the people’s sake, to a government that governs for governing’s sake.

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. From my viewpoint, there are a couple of different issues to address. One is that in an overall fashion government should not be involved in regulating or directing activities unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so. Keep people from dumping arsenic or cyanide in rivers? Great. Forbid businesses from selling soft drinks larger than 32 ounces? Not so much. The second issue is that when government intervention seems to be necessary, said intervention should take place at as low a level as possible so that the government that is doing the intervention is as responsive to the people as possible. An example would be school curricula and conduct, which should be a concern of the State and local school boards, not the Federal government. The Federal Department of Education was established in 1980. We managed to educate children in the United States for 200 years before it was established, and I don’t see a lot of evidence that the education of children has been improved in the U.S. since it was established. There are many aspects of people’s lives where the alternative to governing some activity for what someone considers “the people’s sake” is “don’t govern that at all”.

  15. 115
    nobody.really says:

    The Federal Department of Education was established in 1980. We managed to educate children in the United States for 200 years before it was established, and I don’t see a lot of evidence that the education of children has been improved in the U.S. since it was established.

    Oh yeah? And how many of those kids educated prior to 1980 grew up thinking that Pluto was a planet? Huh? Huh?

    ‘Nuf said.

  16. 116
    Eytan Zweig says:

    The question of state versus federal government is one that I don’t feel sufficiently informed to comment on. But my point as applied to the specific issue at hand was that you and G&W seem to be implying that getting any authority involved in investigating the U. Mississipi statue incident was wrong because the government being involved in any capacity is inappropriate in the case of speech. I interpret this in two ways, both of which seem to be informing your response:

    1. You believe that the current government institutions in the USA have been corrupted from their original purposes and cannot be trusted to honour the constitution.

    2. You believe that in principle, free speech is important enoutgh that even an impartial, honest law enforcement agency should not investigate a case where a political statement is ambiguously a threat of violence.

    As for 1, if this is true – and I have heard enough to believe that there’s good reason to think it is – then that is a serious problem that must be corrected. However, as a general rule I believe that weakening the authorities in question or keeping them out is not a good solution. Rather, I believe in letting the authorities do what is putatitively their job while simultaneously stregnthening the checks and balances.

    As for 2, I believe that it is part of the job of law authorities to investigate any potential threat of violence. They need to do so in carefully, and if there is no evidence that there was anything behind the threat, then they must back off (completely). But I don’t think that anyone who threatens violence, directly or indirectly, should be allowed to do so without someone assessing whether they mean it.

  17. 117
    Elusis says:

    The benefit of being a morbidly obese type is that my competition is dying off on a daily basis.

    That’s a seriously asshole comment. The guy’s post overall didn’t improve my opinion of him any, particularly the way in which he totally ignored the advantage of being a fat MAN rather than a fat WOMAN.

  18. 118
    RonF says:

    I believe that there is definitely evidence that at the Federal level organizations such as the IRS and the FBI have become corrupted to serve political rather than Constitutional ends.

    As far as #2 goes, I would have no problem with the the local cops or even the State police investigating a possible threat of violence. But I don’t believe that there was a threat of violence here, and even if there was I don’t see why the FBI would need to get involved. Note that in the article the discussion of what the FBI might investigate didn’t include a threat of violence.

  19. 119
    Jake Squid says:

    If I remember my history at all, the FBI came into existence corrupted to serve political rather than constitutional ends. It may, in fact, be less corrupted towards political ends than it was 40 or 50 years ago.

  20. 120
    RonF says:

    Maybe so, Jake – but so what? That the Federal government needs some sort of law enforcement agency to investigate Federal crimes makes sense. That it is at all corrupt, especially with regards to political corruption, is a problem regardless of the Bureau’s history.

  21. 121
    Jake Squid says:

    I just find it to be interesting that the FBI started out as a corrupt political government organization. Therefore, it can’t have become corrupted.

    I haven’t heard of it being used by the (relatively speaking) left side of the political spectrum before your comment, so that raises my interest. Do you have any links about this political use of the FBI by the current admin?

  22. 122
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Eytan Zweig says:
    March 10, 2014 at 10:24 am But my point as applied to the specific issue at hand was that you and G&W seem to be implying that getting any authority involved in investigating the U. Mississipi statue incident was wrong

    This summary is largely correct, though given the other inaccuracies I’m hesitant to rely on the “largely” part too much

    because the government being involved in any capacity is inappropriate in the case of speech.

    If this is meant to be literal then it’s simply wrong. If it’s a deliberate exaggeration it might be largely correct, though (again) I hesitate to rely on any shared assumptions.

    I interpret this in two ways, both of which seem to be informing your response:
    1. You believe that the current government institutions in the USA have been corrupted from their original purposes and cannot be trusted to honour the constitution.
    2. You believe that in principle, free speech is important enough that even an impartial, honest law enforcement agency should not investigate a case where a political statement is ambiguously a threat of violence.

    Neither of these is correct, at least if you’re trying to summarize my views and are speaking literally. As with your other comments: I could probably guess at a meaning which would be largely correct, and for some other people I might assume that we were close–but with you, since we have so much base disagreement that seems unlikely. Frankly, trying to spend a lot of time to figure out precisely what we disagree about in the context of US first amendment policy seems like sort of a waste of time.

  23. 123
    nobody.really says:

    Being fat is an advantage. It’s a clear type, and it opens the door to lots of roles. I tend to play what I like to call “slightly failed” people. Maybe it’s a cliché that fat people are underachievers, but, hey, we’re not making documentaries here.

    The people I feel most sorry for are those in the 18-25 age range who are beautiful. They, of course, have their type, too, but there are about a million of them going up for each job.

    Rejoinder:

    Being like [Bradley Cooper] in Hollywood, that’s easy! Tall, handsome, that’s easy. Be short, fat, and smell like Doritos — and try to make it in Hollywood!

  24. 124
    Grace Annam says:

    Eytan:

    I believe that it is part of the job of law authorities to investigate any potential threat of violence. They need to do so in carefully, and if there is no evidence that there was anything behind the threat, then they must back off (completely). But I don’t think that anyone who threatens violence, directly or indirectly, should be allowed to do so without someone assessing whether they mean it.

    For what it’s worth, in my jurisdiction we routinely investigate incidents which are reported as threats but where, in the end, we have to explain to the complainant, “That is not a threat within the meaning of the law,” and why. That said, I work for a local law enforcement agency, not the FBI. Unless the threat is against a Federal figure or the incident meaningfully crosses state lines or is part of an ongoing course of conduct which does so, I can’t see why the FBI would be interested, or would even have jurisdiction.

    Elusis:

    particularly the way in which he totally ignored the advantage of being a fat MAN rather than a fat WOMAN.

    Oh, Elusis. You know perfectly well that he doesn’t have to mention it, because “man” is the default, and “woman” a deviation from the normal.

    Grace

  25. 125
    Eytan Zweig says:

    In the first post where RonF gave his own position, he said:

    I’m a bit torn on the university’s reaction. Issue a statement decrying the action? Good idea. Have a symposium on racism? Sure. Suspend or expel the students? Questionable, but possibly defendable; remember that it’s a public university, not a private one. Get the FBI involved? Not so much

    This includes no mention of the option of calling local law enforcement. I originally took RonF’s mention of the FBI to be a cover term for all law enforcement, and proceeded to use it that way myself. I realize now that this was probably a bad decision on my behalf. So, to clarify, I support involving the appropriate law enforcement agency, and do not have a strong opinion of which is the most appropriate agency to involve.

    RonF – I’m curious – I know you think the FBI shouldn’t have been involved. Would you have felt differently if the university had involved local police instead?

    (G&W – I assume you think local police also should not be allowed to investigate, given that you said that the events didn’t merit “police action”, without specifying the FBI).

    Btw, G&W – I did not include any deliberate exaggerations of what I think your view is in my post. Any misrepresentation of your view is due to my failure to understand what it is you actually are saying. Though I was trying to represent what I thought was a combination of your views and RonF’s, not specifically your own, which may have also introduced inaccuracies. I do agree, however, that trying to explain to each other the nuances of our positions is probably not a great use of either of our time. There are other topics on which you and I disagree where I feel that we share enough common assumptions to have a fruitful debate – this is not one of them.

  26. 126
    RonF says:

    Eytan, I did mean to distinguish the Federal Bureau of Investigation from the Campus Police, the local police and the State Police. The FBI’s job is to investigate and solve violations of Federal law. What Federal law was violated?

    Now, as far as involving any other police involvement – generally, when cops investigate something it’s because a crime has been committed. I’m not seeing the crime here.

    Vandalism? There’s apparently no damage to the statue, and no law enforcement official who was quoted cited either such damage or the word “vandalism”. Non-law enforcement people cited “desecration” and other such terms, but while those are distasteful and offensive they’re not crimes. I’ve asked once already – is this vandalism according to the law?

    Threat of violence? Again, no law enforcement official cited any such threat, and there’s no record that I know of that the FBI or any other law enforcement agencies investigate slashing pictures of public figures, burning them in effigy, or any other circumstance where a threat or action was taken against an image of a person rather than the person themselves. So it would not appear that there’s any such threat involved.

    Every time I’ve heard of anyone calling the cops it’s because a crime was committed. If a crime’s been committed, by all means have the police investigate. Where’s the crime?

    To attempt to use the FBI to investigate an act of free speech – distasteful as it is – in the absence of a crime having been committed is to use the FBI in a political fashion rather than in a law enforcement fashion, to intimidate the speakers and silence those who might also express those views.

  27. 127
    Eytan Zweig says:

    RonF – Well, given that Grace, a police officer, said the following, in the post immediately before mine:

    in my jurisdiction we routinely investigate incidents which are reported as threats but where, in the end, we have to explain to the complainant, “That is not a threat within the meaning of the law,” and why

    It seems to me that we have actual evidence that it’s part of the role of the police to investigate whether something is a crime, not just to investigate things that are pre-determined to be crimes.

    Now, in this particular case, it may well be that no crime actually happened. I just don’t feel comfortable concluding that myself when my only source of information is one on-line article; nor do I believe I would feel comfortable judging this myself if I was a university administrator and potentially liable for the consequences.

  28. 128
    Charles S says:

    The FBI has jurisdiction over crimes motivated by bias against a protected class. If someone commits a crime against (for example) a white person and it appears that they did so because they hate white people and want to intimidate the white community, the FBI has the authority to investigate it.

    I’m not clear if putting a noose on a public statue legally constitutes vandalism, but writing things on sidewalks with chalk gets prosecuted as vandalism at times, and probably costs about as much to clean up as removing a noose from a statue.

  29. 129
    Grace Annam says:

    RonF:

    Now, as far as involving any other police involvement – generally, when cops investigate something it’s because a crime has been committed.

    Sure. But we don’t all have perfect access to the facts, and we don’t all have all of the criminal codes and associated case law memorized for every jurisdiction we live in, work in, or travel through. So sometimes the police investigate things which the reporter believes is a crime, but which turns out not to be.

    Example: around a decade ago, I spoke with a Vermont officer. He described the following report: Person A reports that Person B, who has a history of violence and with whom she is in a domestic relationship, yelled at her that he was going to slit her throat. He was within a few steps of her at the time, shaking with anger, and holding a fixed-blade carving knife. In my jurisdiction, that would be a felony. In the Vermont officer’s jurisdiction at that time, it was not any kind of violation at all; Vermont had no Criminal Threatening statute.

    Example: I take a report of a broken door from one person who lives in an apartment. He says that his roommate just moved out, and that he is certain that the damage was intentional, part of an ongoing pattern of dispute and abuse. I investigate. The roommate who moved out says that it happened accidentally while he and another friend were moving a chest of drawers, and that he has already contacted the landlord and arranged to pay for it, but did not contact his former roommate, because they do not communicate well. I confirm this with the landlord, and voilà: there is no crime.

    Sometimes you can’t know that a crime has been committed at all, let alone start on identifying who committed it, without a little investigation. That’s why the standard for pulling a car over is not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, or even “probable cause”, but merely “articulable suspicion”.

    Grace

  30. 130
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Eytan Zweig says:
    G&W – I assume you think local police also should not be allowed to investigate, given that you said that the events didn’t merit “police action”, without specifying the FBI

    I feel less strongly about the local cops than the FBI.

    But even in that case I would be concerned that the investigation not be politicized. As a practical matter, most people who are “calling for an investigation” are probably doing so because they think that the perps should get in serious trouble and are looking for a way to make them miserable. It’s the same way that most of the people who enter calls for “justice” before a trial are looking for a particular result even though “justice” would usually require hearing all of the evidence first.

    Calling for an FBI investigation is demonstrative of such poor judgment that the proper response when those folks are involved is “no investigation.”

    If someone ended up reporting it to the police, and if the police officer was someone who (properly) focused on “is this actually a real live death threat against a real live person?” and not “how can I punish these kids?” or “how can I make this look good for the papers?” then I would not be as concerned though it’s still a problem.

  31. 131
    Grace Annam says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    But even in that case I would be concerned that the investigation not be politicized. As a practical matter, most people who are “calling for an investigation” are probably doing so because they think that the perps should get in serious trouble and are looking for a way to make them miserable.

    I hope it will not come as a surprise that police officers are familiar with the fact that people reporting crimes sometimes have unstated motives, even (shocking, I know) nefarious ones.

    If someone ended up reporting it to the police, and if the police officer was someone who (properly) focused on “is this actually a real live death threat against a real live person?” and not “how can I punish these kids?” or “how can I make this look good for the papers?” then I would not be as concerned though it’s still a problem.

    Even if you get a properly professional officer doing the investigation, it’s still a problem that someone reported what they thought was a crime, and that the properly professional officer investigates it?

    Perhaps you can suggest some alternate mechanism by which people can report what they believe to be crimes, and we can have the police investigate only those reports which are, in fact, crimes? Would there be some sort of intermediary who decides whether something is criminal enough to risk bringing it to the attention of a professional police officer? Would that intermediary have investigative powers? Power of subpoena? Power to swear to search warrants? To execute them? Power of arrest, at least in emergency situations? Would we do background checks on them and make them take an oath to follow the law? If these intermediary investigators execute search warrants as part of the pre-investigation, do they get to be armed for their own protection and the protection of innocent third parties when they do that? Should they wear some sort of insignia, or uniform, so that everyone knows that they are duly-appointed government officials carrying out their sworn duties?

    We could call them … well, what would you suggest?

    Grace

  32. 132
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Grace – we seem to already have people who, unlike the police, can determine whether a crime has occured without any political prejudices or bias and who don’t seem to ever make a mistake. They’re called “people who post on blog comment threads”.

  33. 133
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Grace Annam says:
    I hope it will not come as a surprise that police officers are familiar with the fact that people reporting crimes sometimes have unstated motives, even (shocking, I know) nefarious ones.

    Nope.

    Nor will it come as a surprise that police officers have a wide variety of responses to such reports, which range from “ethically discharge duties in a neutral fashion” to “act corrupt as all get-out.”

    Or, for that matter, that police officers themselves are rarely accurate judges of the problems with, well, police officers.

    Even if you get a properly professional officer doing the investigation, it’s still a problem that someone reported what they thought was a crime, and that the properly professional officer investigates it?

    Sure, it’s possible to do this right. But this PARTICULAR type of thing–high level public exposure; many people calling for the heads of the perps; complex issues of law (cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment)… well, it has a very high incidence of “do it wrong.”

    Much of it is that this depends on what “investigates” means. Cops have a broad spectrum of things that they can (and do!) perform which are good practice and investigation. And cops have a broad spectrum of things that they can (and do!) perform which are technically under the umbrella of “investigation” but which are practically under the umbrella of “punishment by cop.” It’s the difference between calling someone to make an appointment, and showing up in a cop car at their house with the lights on. Or the difference in how you interview witnesses, and in what order, whether they be employers, or family members, etc.

    We obviously can’t and shouldn’t stop the general practice of reporting things to the cops–that’s what they are for–though I would, of course, prefer that people have some serious reason for doing so because of the high probability of added costs.

    Some people report things because they think that the accused actually did something illegal. Other people report things because they “want to get ___ in trouble with the cops” and are relying on the cops to misuse their investigatory power. I think that the latter type of reporting is a problem, and I will argue against it, even though I concede that we can’t actually prevent it without preventing the reports that we want.

  34. 134
    Grace Annam says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    though I would, of course, prefer that people have some serious reason for doing so because of the high probability of added costs.

    Good God, so would WE! People ROUTINELY call us to report that someone said something mean to them on Facebook! Just had one in our log a day or so ago. It is a waste of our time and everyone’s tax dollars that I have to take the time to listen to what the mean person said (because there exists that tiny chance that it’s something we must address), and then explain to the complainant that people can say what they want on Facebook. I’ve explained to so many people how to block people they don’t like on social media that I should start billing the time as an IT professional, but there’s nothing more we can do, because the reported behavior is not illegal.

    even though I concede that we can’t actually prevent it without preventing the reports that we want.

    Well, then I join you in decrying the existence of things which we wish weren’t so but are powerless to change. But I try not to waste a lot of oxygen on such things.

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    I’m afraid you’re laboring under a selection bias. You have no way of seeing all of the many, many times we tell people, “Yes, but he has a right to free speech. I completely understand why you don’t like what he’s saying. It would aggravate me, too. But what he’s doing is not illegal, and if I tried to stop him it would be an unConstitutional abuse of my authority.” We do that all the time. It is routine. You don’t get to see those times, because they don’t make the news. You don’t get to see how it is that we routinely, and skillfully, work to walk that boundary between protected expression and public disruption and criminal action. You don’t get to see most of the times we put our asses on the line to protect people’s right to say offensive and hateful things.

    Sure, we get it wrong sometimes. You can come up with plenty of examples. There are hundreds of thousands of us in the United States alone, averaging many enforcement decisions per officer per day, working in a complex and dynamic system in which people on both sides of every question push the boundaries constantly. It would be absurd to think that we could hit 100% perfect, especially since there is no universally-agreed-upon definition of what that is, in a multifaceted, pluralistic, dynamic, argumentative society like ours.

    But the fact that you can come up with examples is no more meaningful than the fact that I could, in an attempt to tar an entire group, present examples of lawyers lying under oath, or drivers crashing into buildings, and claim that they are representative when in fact they are very abnormal.

    In reality, we do pretty well, and work hard to improve our percentage. Law enforcement as a whole is more professional, more educated, more nuanced now than it has ever been in our nation’s history, and the overall trend in quality is upward.

    If you want to talk specific cases, fine. But “generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment”?

    You, sir, do not know what you are talking about.

    Feel free to keep saying it, though. The closest I’ll come to trying to stop you is by pointing out how wrong you are.

    Grace

  35. 135
    Myca says:

    But this PARTICULAR type of thing–high level public exposure; many people calling for the heads of the perps; complex issues of law (cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment)… well, it has a very high incidence of “do it wrong.”

    Though I’d agree that stirring up a media firestorm is not generally conducive to reasoned, thoughtful discussion, I have a hard time decrying the “high level public exposure” of folks who commit an incredibly inflammatory public act.

    I mean, this wasn’t a private conversation, an email, or a phone call, you know? This was pretty damn public, and by design.

    —Myca

  36. 136
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Grace, I have learned that we generally butt heads and have started trying to avoid posting in your threads as a result. I’m not sure if you want to do that here, but since you seem to want to try…

    I’m happy to have a discussion about problems with the police force. You may be an excellent officer or a bad one–I don’t know you at all beyond what you post online–but if you’re going to take general comments personally then this discussion is unlikely to end without offense. Hopefully you can manage that: I’ll say up front that I don’t think of cops as a homogeneous mass of identical people, and I’m discussing group averages.

    I’m afraid you’re laboring under a selection bias. You have no way of seeing all of the many, many times we tell people, “Yes, but he has a right to free speech. I completely understand why you don’t like what he’s saying. It would aggravate me, too. But what he’s doing is not illegal, and if I tried to stop him it would be an unConstitutional abuse of my authority.” We do that all the time. It is routine. You don’t get to see those times, because they don’t make the news. You don’t get to see how it is that we routinely, and skillfully, work to walk that boundary between protected expression and public disruption and criminal action. You don’t get to see most of the times we put our asses on the line to protect people’s right to say offensive and hateful things.

    Actually, I see those things all the time. Part of it is that I have (and have had) a lot of good relationships with and experience spending time in prosecutor’s offices and victim assistance places, both of whom maintain great relationships with the cops for obvious reasons. And it’s great when they happen.

    Things I also see all the time: people acting completely without racism, sexism, or any other -ism. People going against their self-interest. People taking on personal sacrifice just to help others or improve society. As with all of those things, “This is done right, sometimes” isn’t much of a defense to “you’re doing that wrong.”

    Sure, we get it wrong sometimes. You can come up with plenty of examples. There are hundreds of thousands of us in the United States alone, averaging many enforcement decisions per officer per day, working in a complex and dynamic system in which people on both sides of every question push the boundaries constantly. It would be absurd to think that we could hit 100% perfect, especially since there is no universally-agreed-upon definition of what that is, in a multifaceted, pluralistic, dynamic, argumentative society like ours.

    I’m not sure what this paragraph really means. It sounds perhaps like you’re arguing that you’re about as perfect as you can reasonably expect, or perhaps that you’re approaching perfection (though not 100%) which doesn’t make sense. But rather than guess: what are you trying to say here?

    But the fact that you can come up with examples is no more meaningful than the fact that I could, in an attempt to tar an entire group, present examples of lawyers lying under oath, or drivers crashing into buildings, and claim that they are representative when in fact they are very abnormal.

    Well, it’s actually MUCH more meaningful, because one of those things is not like the other. The corruption in people who have lots of power and individual authority, and relatively little oversight–hello, cops–is both more widespread and more problematic than the number of people who crash into buildings, or the number of lawyers who lie under oath.

    On that subject: do lawyers lie under oath? Sure. I don’t know why you think I’d deny it, or be upset by it (though as it happens we are almost never under oath, so I assume you mean “lie to the court.”) And for sure they do. Lawyers have higher credibility, which makes it easier to fib (and therefore more likely) especially with respect to things like “yes, judge, I sent that in the mail yesterday.” Countering that is the fact that we also have a much higher penalty than most folks for lying (which makes it less likely) so my guess is that it’s pretty much average for humans.

    In reality, we [cops] do pretty well, and work hard to improve our percentage.

    Really? Law enforcement as a group has strongly opposed, with a high degree of consistency, things such as oversight, improvement, and restrictions which are designed to increase public rights at the expense of police rights. They hate internal investigations; the protect their own; they fail to discipline; they generally attempt to maximize police power and minimize oversight. Like all such folks, they talk the talk–there’s a lot of discussion and press releases about it–but they don’t walk the walk.

    I’m glad you think that police generally are working to improve. Do you include police in major cities, like, say, NYC? Or LA? Perhaps you’re just talking about small departments…?

    But I am glad to hear that cops are all over the civil rights side. I mean, surely a majority of the largest police force in the country came out against stop-and-frisk, right? Surely the police universally support civilian cell-phone recording of them performing their public duties? Surely they are more than happy to avoid racial profiling; to avoid violating the civil rights of criminal suspects; to…

    Huh.

    Do you think that solid police officer support (remember, we’re not discussing figureheads here) for such initiatives is the norm? Or the exception?

    If you think it’s the exception with respect to all of those OTHER constitutional rights, do you think that police have some sort of special friendly relationship with the first amendment that makes them act differently?

    Law enforcement as a whole is more professional, more educated, more nuanced now than it has ever been in our nation’s history, and the overall trend in quality is upward.

    I agree. But so what? It’s pretty much meaningless in the context of evaluating ultimate quality, unless you want to make an argument that law enforcement STARTED at a high level of professionalism and respect for civil rights. Which, as I think we both know, is not really true. It’s also

    If you want to talk specific cases, fine. But “generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment”?
    You, sir, do not know what you are talking about.

    Are you sure?

    I’ll go out on a limb and say two non-conflicting things:

    1) With respect to you personally, and to the workings of your personal police department and those police interactions which you have personally witnessed, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
    2) With respect to police generally, and their treatment of the First Amendment generally, I probably know more than you do, unless you make a habit of keeping up with these things.

    Feel free to keep saying it, though. The closest I’ll come to trying to stop you is by pointing out how wrong you are.
    Grace

    Is this supposed to be reassuring, threatening, or both? I’m glad that you won’t try anything other than talk (why would you?) I’m sorry that you feel the need to reinforce that fact, and in theory to reference the fact that you could, you know, “try to stop me” by other means.

  37. 137
    Jake Squid says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that Grace is implying anything other than banning you?

  38. 138
    Grace Annam says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    I’m happy to have a discussion about problems with the police force.

    Someday, perhaps, if I have time, I will want to tackle as vast a topic as general law enforcement with you. But, for this conversation, that would be moving the goalposts, because what I was replying to was this:

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    I didn’t take that remark especially personally; you didn’t direct it specifically at me, and I’m not all police officers. But it did anger me a bit, because it was breathtakingly broad, and in my experience as a generalization about all police officers, not true.

    I’m prepared to believe that many departments don’t do that as well as mine. I’m prepared to believe that some do it better. I’d have to see really good evidence before I believe that

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    , for the reasons I stated in #134.

    It sounds perhaps like you’re arguing that you’re about as perfect as you can reasonably expect,

    Not what I argued.

    or perhaps that you’re approaching perfection

    Also not what I argued.

    I try again, in short declarative mode: It is obvious that police officers and agencies are not perfect. Also, police officers make many thousands of First-Amendment-related decisions every day. Therefore, citing specific instances of mistakes would not prove anything with regard to

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    , which is what I was replying to.

    On that subject: do lawyers lie under oath? Sure. I don’t know why you think I’d deny it,

    I don’t think you’d deny it. I didn’t say that I thought you’d deny it. I was attempting to offer a sympathetic parallel between your profession and mine: just as specific instances of police officers getting First Amendment decisions wrong does not prove that

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    , neither do specific instances of lawyers lying under oath prove that lawyers are generally mendacious when giving testimony.

    Though lawyers have, in some circles, a reputation for dishonesty (especially as regards billable hours), I, personally, think that it is an undeserved reputation, despite the fact that people can certainly produce examples. Likewise, though police officers apparently have, in some circles, a reputation for being

    generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    , I, personally think that it is an undeserved reputation, despite the fact that people can certainly produce examples.

    In other words, when I said that I could take an action that would

    …tar an entire group…

    and when I said that I could

    …claim that they are representative when in fact they are very abnormal…

    I hoped that it would be apparent that I was doing the exact opposite of asserting that lawyers are, generally, liars.

    But apparently it wasn’t sufficiently clear. I hope it is now.

    If you think it’s the exception with respect to all of those OTHER constitutional rights, do you think that police have some sort of special friendly relationship with the first amendment that makes them act differently?

    No, because if you had asserted that “cops are generally atrocious w/r/t Constitutional rights generally”, I would have found it similarly objectionable. If police officers were atrocious on ANYTHING generally, this would not be the more-or-less functional democratic republic that it is.

    You want to argue that police officers make mistakes sometimes? Conceded. That we could do better? I agree. That officer abuse of authority is especially bad precisely because of the unique powers police officers have in our society? Absolutely. That bad decisions make case law? Sure.

    But you didn’t argue those things. You said

    cops are generally atrocious w/r/t the First Amendment

    Generally (“in most cases, usually”) atrocious (“horrifyingly wicked”).

    No. We’re not. And if you still stand by those two words, if you’re not willing to walk that back at all, then I don’t want to see examples, I want to see relevant, solid statistics.

    If you want to walk that back and admit to a bit of hyperbole, then we can bury this hatchet.

    Is this supposed to be reassuring, threatening, or both? I’m glad that you won’t try anything other than talk (why would you?) I’m sorry that you feel the need to reinforce that fact, and in theory to reference the fact that you could, you know, “try to stop me” by other means.

    It was supposed to be a rhetorical flourish, by way of pointing out that I was asserting your right to speak freely, without consequence other than other people speaking, which is apparently a great marvel, what with me being a cop and all.

    But, apparently, you are bound and determined to see evil where there is none, and to see my assertion of your Constitutional right as an implicit threat. Which says, I think, more about you than it does about me.

    I think that part of the reason that we get on each other’s nerves so readily is that we come at this activity from different places. We both like to win arguments, and we both like to understand things as accurately as possible. But I think you lean more toward the former, which makes you better-suited to be an advocate, and I lean more toward the latter, which makes me better-suited to decide whether and how to enforce the law. Maybe that’s why we each ended up doing the work we do.

    What do you say? Can we bury this hatchet?

    Grace

  39. 139
    Grace Annam says:

    Jake Squid:

    Are you seriously suggesting that Grace is implying anything other than banning you?

    Good heavens, Jake, banning him? All he’s done is said something I disagree with. He hasn’t injured me.

    It hadn’t occurred to me to ban him. Why would I ban him?

    Grace

  40. 140
    Jake Squid says:

    Because banning was the most serious possible action I could see you doing and g&w’s statement seemed to me to be about much stronger and, possibly, physical means.

  41. 141
    Charles S says:

    There is a man who spent several years in prison (as far as I can tell) for joking/prophesying in a bar to a stranger that [God had spoken to us through a burning bush before, and maybe he would do so again], when Bush II had a scheduled appearance nearby a few days later. That isn’t someone being convicted of a threatening act against an image of a president, but it is related (weirdly, wikipedia doesn’t list that one, but has a bunch of other examples of people convicted of threatening the President- attacks on images of the president seem to general result in interviews by the Secret Service, but no charges filed).

    Of course, the law against threatening the President is much broader than most other laws against threatening to kill someone.

    However, displays of nooses are traditionally a clear threat to commit murder against black people.

    Displaying a noose with the intent to intimidate is a crime in New York, Connecticut and Louisiana (but not in Mississippi).

    A man was convicted of federal civil rights violations for displaying a noose at a rally for the Jena 6.

    Also, burning a cross on private property with the permission of the owner is not actually protected if the intent of the cross burning is to intimidate (according to the Supreme Court).

    So putting a noose around the neck of a statue of a living person who lives in the same town as you and the statue seems like it might well be an act intended to intimidate, and seems like it is an act that a reasonable person might be intimidated by. Doing it for reasons of racial bias makes it a Federal offense, under the jurisdiction of the FBI. It at least seems like enough of a threat to be worth investigating.

    As a side note,

    RonF: “there’s no record that I know of that the FBI or any other law enforcement agencies investigate slashing pictures of public figures, burning them in effigy, or any other circumstance where a threat or action was taken against an image of a person rather than the person themselves. ”

    RonF, before stating your ignorance as though it were evidence of absence, you might want to take 5 minutes to check that your ignorance is not merely personal ignorance and actually represents an absence of evidence. You draw grand conclusions from your personal ignorance constantly and it is very tiresome.

  42. 142
    nobody.really says:

    Social safety net: Why not just rely on private charity, like we used to? Actually, 1) the US has had public-ish social safety nets since, well, before there was a US, and 2) the private social safety nets don’t work — which is why we’ve expanded reliance on the public ones.

  43. 143
    RonF says:

    Charles S., the fact that I have stated that in such a fashion doesn’t mean “I haven’t bothered to look it up”, it means that “while I can’t find it I acknowledge that I can’t say for certain it doesn’t exist”.

  44. 144
    RonF says:

    That isn’t someone being convicted of a threatening act against an image of a president, but it is related

    But that’s precisely the distinction in question.

    Displaying a noose with the intent to intimidate is a crime in New York, Connecticut and Louisiana (but not in Mississippi).

    What’s considered “with the intent to intimidate”? And intimidate who? A race in general? Or particular individuals? I’m trying to figure out if that would apply here.

    Re: the case of the Jena 6 noose – it’s a flippin’ Federal crime to drive past a group of black protestors with a noose hanging from your pickup truck? Seriously? That’s ridiculous. So is the Supreme Court saying that you can’t burn a cross on private property with the permission of the owner if your intent is to intimidate.

    I will however cede the point that, given that it may well BE a violation of a Federal crime, it’s legitimate for the FBI to investigate.

  45. 145
    RonF says:

    No Justice Department Charges Against Ohio Woman Who Voted Six Times For Obama

    Last week Al Sharpton embraced convicted vote fraudster Melowese Richardson at a “voting rights” rally in Cincinnati. The United States Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done nothing to Melowese Richardson 410 days after she admitted on camera that she committed multiple federal felonies by voting six times for President Obama’s reelection.
    Federal law makes it a felony to vote more than once for President. In fact, 42 U.S.C. Section 1973i(e) subjects Richardson to twenty-five years in federal prison for her six votes for Obama.

    Federal charges against Richardson easily satisfy DOJ guidelines. There is a unique federal interest in ensuring voter fraud does not taint the election of the President and Congress. Second, the federal interest in having valid elections for President and Congress remains unvindicated; Richardson walks free and is now being cheered at rallies. Last, Richardson admitted on camera that she committed multiple federal felonies and her handwriting matched the ballot applications that were sent to her house.

    But there’s no such thing as vote fraud and vote-by-mail doesn’t increase the chances of vote fraud. So obviously Ms. Richardson shouldn’t be charged.

  46. 146
    JutGory says:

    RonF @145:

    But there’s no such thing as vote fraud and vote-by-mail doesn’t increase the chances of vote fraud. So obviously Ms. Richardson shouldn’t be charged.

    Exactly! So, what’s your point?

    Besides, this is just one person. Her extra votes were not enough to swing an election. There is simply no evidence that this is a serious problem. So, quit looking for it.

    -Jut

  47. 147
    RonF says:

    Nothing to see here, move along, eh?

    There is simply no evidence that this is a serious problem. So, quit looking for it.

    Quitting looking for evidence is an excellent way to ensure that it is never found.

    So why hasn’t this person been prosecuted? And why is she being lionized by that fraud and cheered at rallies?

  48. 148
    Charles S says:

    Jesus, Ron, can’t you even read your own sources? She was prosecuted, convicted, and served 8 months in jail. She is still on probation. She had her prison sentence reduced from 5 years to time served and 5 years probation because she only presented evidence of her bipolar disorder on appeal. I got all that from your link and from one of the links (to a reputable source) in it.

    So you and Jut can continue in your little fantasy land that voting fraud is common and just not being sought out, but this is yet another case of tiny scale voting fraud (4 illegal votes cast over 3 elections) that was identified and prosecuted. The DOJ didn’t intervene to re-prosecute because it doesn’t actually meet the 3 criteria that your source lists for the DOJ re-prosecuting cases that have already been prosecuted by the state.

  49. 149
    JutGory says:

    RonF:

    Here is a word puzzle for you:

    Jut: Che-tongue-ek

    (By the way, I thought I saw an article that she had been prosecuted (and convicted) of this and was out on parole (or something like that). Maybe it was someone else, though.)

    -Jut

  50. 150
    RonF says:

    Charles S., yes I did. That was a State proceeding. The second paragraph I cited dealt with the criteria that the Department of Justice uses when determining whether or not prosecution of a Federal crime is justified and advisable for an act that also resulted in a person already having been tried and convicted for violating a State law. The law professor who wrote it is convinced that said prosecution is both justified and advisable. It is his reasoning that I cited.

    As far as the mental health problems go, I’m no expert on the matter and can’t tell you what effect that would have on voting for someone six times. It seemed to convince the judge but I’d like a little more clarity. You’ll note that she still had to plead guilty – it didn’t wipe out her conviction, just the penalty. Under normal circumstances I’d be convinced that should suffice. But her presence at that fraudster’s rally being held up as an example worth applauding seems to me to justify reminding both her and others that she committed a serious crime worth serious punishment.

    Thank you for telling me I should check the backup links. I found this:

    Hers was the third 2012 conviction in Hamilton County for illegal voting.

    Russell Glassop, 76, of Symmes Township, submitted his wife’s absentee ballot after she died in 2012. Sister Marguerite Kloos, 56, of Delhi Township, voted in 2012 using absentee ballot for another nun who died before she could cast her vote.

    More vote fraud we shouldn’t look for. I do wonder what religious order Sister Marguerite Kloos belongs to that permitted her to justify her act – or if she repented later….

    I liked this line from one of the other links. I think it’s appropriate:

    JutGory – yeah, I suspected as much. But as you can see not everyone agrees.

  51. 151
    RonF says:

    O.K. Edit crapped out even though I had time left. During her sentencing the judge took on the concept that it’s only a couple of votes. He said that it’s a foolish thought to think that this is not imporant. Democracies are delicate, he said, and the electoral system is the foundation of our country. He likened it to someone coming home, seeing a couple of termites in his house and just brushing them away, saying “It’s only a few” – only to have it become thousands and millions and billions with the result that the foundation of the house is destroyed.

    An excellent analogy, and an excellent reason for Voter ID.

    Sister Marguerite Kloos is a member of the Sisters of Charity, Roman Catholic IIRC, and was dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities of the College of Mt. St. Joseph from 2009 until she her preliminary hearing on the charges. Her very close friend had died unexpectedly. She took her dead friend’s absentee ballot, filled out the ballot and signed her friend’s name to it and mailed it in.

  52. 152
    Charles S says:

    RonF,

    But her presence at that fraudster’s rally being held up as an example worth applauding seems to me to justify reminding both her and others that she committed a serious crime worth serious punishment.

    So you think she should be prosecuted by the Federal government even though she has already been convicted of the equivalent state crime because she appeared at a voting rights rally and was hugged by Al Sharpton? And you claim to be a free speech absolutist who is reluctant to call on the Federal government (indeed in this very thread, you have argued that racially motivated non-verbal threats of murder should be protected speech and not under Federal jurisdiction)? How curious.

    Incidentally, J. Christian Adams is not a law professor (I don’t know where you got that), just a lawyer who writes for right-wing publications and vocally quit from DoJ because he claimed it ignored a voter intimidation case involving supposed intimidation of white people.

    Less incidentally, as far as I can tell, the people who don’t think vote fraud should be monitored for, investigated, and prosecuted exist only in your head. No one on Alas has argued in favor of that position, indeed I’ve never seen anyone argue for those positions. Maybe you can find someone who believes those things if you hunt hard enough; if you do, maybe you should go argue with them wherever you find them, not here, where they aren’t.

    Literally dozens (maybe even hundreds) of cases of people getting caught illegally voting in one way or another happen every year. We’ve run through this here on Alas, I believe you participated in the discussion. I’m sure there are hundreds, maybe even thousands more that don’t get caught. This is out of what, 100 million votes? Very few of these cases would be prevented by the anti-voting measures that Republicans push for, so voter ID laws might prevent a dozen or so fraudulent votes out of 100 million votes (and only prevent a tiny fraction of voting fraud), while discouraging 10′s of thousands of people from voting. Modern Republican anti-voting laws distort the electoral system far more than the supposed fraud they are supposedly designed to prevent. That is the actual argument you would need to be responding if you want to meaningfully discuss vote fraud here, not dragging in random cases of people getting prosecuted and convicted and serving time in prison for vote fraud, just because they are highlighted in some right-wing rag.

  53. 153
    Charles S says:

    Given that she was an experienced poll worker and arguably used her knowledge as a poll worker to cheat, I don’t think a five year sentence was excessive. Since the same vociferous right-wing judge who sentenced her to five years reduced it to probation once he learned of the extent of her mental illness (and the state prosecutor agreed that she should not be imprisoned), I’m willing to assume that that was also reasonable.

    Incidentally, vote by mail was not involved in this case (absentee voting is not the same as vote by mail), and voter ID laws would have had no effect on this case, so all your claims that this case is relevant to the question of Republican anti-voting laws are just so much nonsense.

  54. 154
    RonF says:

    So you think she should be prosecuted by the Federal government even though she has already been convicted of the equivalent state crime because she appeared at a voting rights rally and was hugged by Al Sharpton?

    That seems to fit one of the Federal guidelines: “second, the prior prosecution must have left that interest demonstrably unvindicated;” She’s entitled to all the free speech she wants, but as has been repeatedly noted on this blog that doesn’t mean that you get to avoid the consequences. If you hold your conduct as a violator of federal election law up to the public as an example of voting rights then the federal interest is demonstrably unvindicated.

    No, J. Christian Adams is NOT a law professor. Mea culpa. I got confused, I somehow thought I’d gotten this off of the Volokh Conspiracy. You got me fair on that one. I apologize.

    No, I don’t hold that folks here don’t think that cases of vote fraud shouldn’t be prosecuted. But there do seem to be a lot of people who don’t think it exists in any significant levels and that, on that basis, Voter ID laws are simply racist attempts to keep the oppressed from overthrowing their masters.

    Modern Republican anti-voting laws distort the electoral system far more than the supposed fraud they are supposedly designed to prevent.

    I’m not familiar with any “Republican anti-voting” laws. But if you are referring to Voter ID laws, then fine – let’s have that discussion. You’re making an argument that Voter ID laws distort the electoral system far more than voter fraud does. I note that you say that they distort the electoral system – not that they might or could distort it, but that they do. Voter ID laws have been in effect in some juristictions for an election or two now. Can you support this statement with data from those juristictions?

  55. 155
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, contrary to what you seem to think, the “demonstrably unvindicated” standard doesn’t mean the government should put people on trial because they spoke in public. (Nor would your view be even remotely Constitutional, by the way.)

    You can get a sense of what “demonstrably unvindicated” means from the Department of Justice guidelines:

    A federal prosecution will not be authorized unless the state/prior federal proceeding left substantial federal interests demonstrably unvindicated. Even so, a dual or successive prosecution is not warranted unless a conviction is anticipated and-if the state/prior federal proceeding resulted in a conviction-normally will not be authorized unless an enhanced sentence in the subsequent federal prosecution is anticipated. Where the prior state proceedings result in a conviction, a subsequent prosecution may be warranted if the defendant in the state proceeding was charged with a state offense carrying a maximum penalty substantially below the maximum penalty of the federal offense(s) with which the defendant may be charged. A subsequent prosecution may also be warranted where there is a substantial basis for believing that the choice by either the prosecutor or grand jury of the state or prior federal charges which were filed or the determination regarding guilt or severity of sentence was affected by any of the following factors:

    a. Infection of the proceeding by incompetence, corruption, intimidation, or undue influence (State/Prior Federal);

    b. Court or jury nullification involving an important federal interest, in blatant disregard of the evidence (State/Prior Federal);

    c. The failure of the state to prove an element of the state offense which is not an element of the federal offense (State);

    d. The unavailability of significant evidence in the proceeding either because it was not timely discovered or because it was suppressed on an erroneous view of the law (State/Prior Federal);

    e. Fairness to other defendants or significant resource considerations favor separate prosecutions (Federal); or

    f. The original indictment was held insufficient as a matter of law or there was a fatal variance between the offenses charged and the proof at trial (Federal).

    Ron:

    She’s entitled to all the free speech she wants, but as has been repeatedly noted on this blog that doesn’t mean that you get to avoid the consequences.

    When I say that, that means that someone who speaks out may suffer social consequences, or in a few specific cases even justifiably lose their job (although in most cases, I’m against job loss for political speech). I’ve never advocated throwing people in prison for political speech, as you’re advocating here.

    Republican anti-voting laws include voter ID laws, but also include purging the voter rolls of legitimate voters, unreasonably limiting voter hours, and a variety of measures intended to deter likely Democratic voters (college students, poor people, Black people, etc) from voting. The numbers are usually in the tens of thousands or low hundreds of thousands, which is too low to swing most elections – but there are exceptions, such as the racist voter purge that won George W. Bush the White House, which in turn eventually made it possible for the Supreme Court to destroy enormous sections of the voting rights act.

    Felon disenfranchisement is another major distortion of the voting system – again, far, FAR larger than voter fraud – but I’m not sure if that one is GOP based or is basically bipartisan.

  56. 156
    Charles S says:

    “But there do seem to be a lot of people who don’t think [voting fraud] exists in any significant levels”

    And it doesn’t. And 3 cases of people illegally casting extra ballots on behalf of dead and comatose people (and voting absentee and then again in person) does not represent significant levels. Obviously, the system should be designed to catch people who do this (and double voting in particular seems like an easy one to catch, and fraudulently voting someone else’s absentee ballot gets caught by checking signatures, something the vote-by-mail system does very well), but none of the Republican anti-voting measures that you support would have any effect of stopping the rare cases of this sort of voting fraud. Voter ID requirements don’t effect absentee ballots or check for double voting. Neither do reducing early voting hours.

    And we’ve had the discussion about the effects of voter ID laws several times before, so I’m not terribly excited to walk you through it again. Please go reread the previous threads on voter ID laws. And as Amp says, the intentionally incompetent voter roll purges are an undeniable example of Republican anti-voting measures (and while Bush v. Gore is the famous and most successful one, there was another dishonest state-mandated voter roll purge attempted in 2012 in Florida that only failed to go into effect because county elections boards revolted and simply refused to implement it.

  57. 157
    RonF says:

    Hm.

    Tell you what – I am persuaded by your argument. The Feds could prosecute this woman. But you’re right – it would be an abuse of the Federal Government’s power simply to silence a woman’s speech.

    So – I abandon the claim that this woman should be prosecuted. Her right to free speech outweighs other considerations. She served time on the matter – let it be.

    What I’m trying to figure out now is why, when she showed up at what was labelled a voters’ rights rally, Al Sharpton would call her up on stage and hug her and people would applaud her. I read the stories on it and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  58. 158
    Charles S says:

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense and is certainly makes a horrible impression (and was denounced by local Republicans and Democrats alike), but from one of the articles in the local paper (not going to hunt it down right now), I get the impression that this was a rally in her local neighborhood, she is someone very active in her neighborhood and in registering voters in her neighborhood, and she just went through a really rough experience (being imprisoned for 8 months, facing a 5 year prison term), and this was a way for her activist community to welcome her back. It wasn’t a matter of holding her up as a hero or as a martyr, just a way of saying “welcome home, we still value you.”

  59. 159
    RonF says:

    Hey, if someone I knew had committed a felony, gone to prison for it and then got out I’d welcome them back. But if they’d mugged someone I wouldn’t drag them up on stage and cheer them at a “Take Back the Streets” rally. An activist rally for voting rights shouldn’t be cheering someone who repeatedly broke voting laws, even if she was active in such things previously. Sounds to me that this isn’t a voting rights group, it’s a “Vote Democratic no matter what it takes” group.

  60. 160
    Ampersand says:

    Tell you what – I am persuaded by your argument. The Feds could prosecute this woman. But you’re right – it would be an abuse of the Federal Government’s power simply to silence a woman’s speech.

    Although I don’t have much further to add to the conversation at the moment, I just want to acknowledge that Ron said this. Thanks for conceding that point, Ron.