When a Rather Sexist “Joke” Backfires in Spectacular Fashion

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, public facilities, federally-assisted programs, and other areas. In most of these, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which deals with employment discrimination, adds sex as a protected category. Over the years, Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination has been expanded to include sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. One has to wonder, though—how did sex end up in Title VII as a protected category, if it’s not anywhere else in the law? Join me for a historical odyssey into the realm of unintended—but awesome—consequences.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was adamant about getting the Civil Rights Act passed. It would prove to be one of the signature achievements of his time in office, and the major event that sparked the reshuffling of party positions*.
Continue reading

Share

“Everyday Americans”

It’s the little things that sometimes reveal far more about ourselves than we realize.

Or, as Bob Chipman put it on Twitter, “Most revealing quote EVER.”


To be clear, this is not about picking on one person quoted in Time. It’s about the casual assumption behind a key portion of the quote. See if you can spot it.

Shannon Goodin, 24, Owosso, Mich. A first-time voter who doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or a Republican, Goodin says Trump earned her support by being "a big poster child for change," adding, "Politicians don’t appeal to us. Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities, immigrants, but she didn’t really for everyday Americans."

Shannon Goodin, 24, Owosso, Mich. A first-time voter who doesn’t consider herself a Democrat or a Republican, Goodin says Trump earned her support by being “a big poster child for change,” adding, “Politicians don’t appeal to us. Clinton would go out of her way to appeal to minorities, immigrants, but she didn’t really for everyday Americans.”

“Minorities.”

“Immigrants.”

“EVERYDAY AMERICANS.”

See the problem here?

Share

Some Thoughts on “Tolerance,” Post-Election 2016

I’ve been called “intolerant” multiple times today*, all because when Trump voters have felt the need to tell us they are not personally racist misogynist bigots—they just voted for one—I have refused to take their word for it.

If that’s what “tolerance” is, then tolerance is useless.

I am tolerant of all Trump voters.

I tolerate them. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to unproven reparative therapies. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to warrantless stop-and-frisk searches. I think Trump voters should be able to marry whomever they want, provided it’s a consenting adult. I think we should trust Trump voters to make their own reproductive decisions for themselves and their families. I don’t think an unarmed Trump voter should be viewed by police as any more of a threat than anyone else. I don’t believe Trump voters should be subjected to heightened scrutiny at airports just because of how they look or what they’re wearing. I don’t think Trump voters should be subjected to catcalling, harassment, or assault just for walking down the street.

“Intolerance” is when you believe the opposite of any of the things I just said (except substitute a different group for “Trump voters.”)

What tolerance does not mean is that I cannot criticize your beliefs or actions. It does not mean that I have to accept your actions when they hurt others.

If you are asking me not to criticize you, and not to call you out on your bullshit when I see it, all in the name of “tolerance,” you’re not actually asking for my tolerance.

You’re asking for my obedience.

I’m telling you right now, you can’t have it.

Trump hasn’t been shy about speaking his mind about the people in this society that he doesn’t like. I will never treat you the way Trump has treated or threatens to treat women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and others.

I will always tolerate you.

I will not, however, be quiet, nor will I be obedient.

You sure as hell wouldn’t be if your candidate had lost.


* I posted the foregoing to Facebook the day after the election. It got more likes and shares than just about anything else I’ve ever posted, so I figured I’d re-publish it here.

Share

“Perfect Organism” (UPDATED)

Consider the cat.

Specifically, consider the cat’s drive to kill.

"The reason cats are so pissy is they're God's perfect killing machines but they only weigh 8lbs and we keep picking them up and kissing them" – Tweet by David Thorpe

Now, consider this classic scene from Alien, but imagine that they’re talking about Jones, the ship’s cat, instead of the eight-foot-tall, acid-bleeding xenomorph: Continue reading

Share

“I was just a kid they called his sidekick…”

When I asked my wife to marry me, one of this first things she said to me (after “yes,” thankfully) was to ask if the Gourds could play our wedding. It wasn’t really a question—she was telling me that we would hire the Gourds to play, and that our wedding budget would have to work around whatever it cost. As I happen to love the Gourds, too, I had no objection.

I mention the Gourds because they are part of a long, proud, twangy tradition of Texas country/folk/bluegrass/etc. musicians. The Gourds certainly had their own unique sound, distinct from just about any other band I know, but they also belong to a tradition pioneered by people like Guy Clark, who died a few days ago at the age of 74.

This has been a bad year for music. Guy Clark’s death has hit me much closer to home than others, and it’s not just because he’s from Texas, or because he is a legend of Texas music. I don’t even know all that many of his songs. He wasn’t a singularly unique artist like David Bowie or Prince. It’s doubtful that anyone could call him a “visionary” on the same scale as Bowie or Prince. Guy Clark was an old guy with a guitar, writing and singing what he knew. He did it very, very well. And a whole lot of people loved him for it. Continue reading

Share

Oceanfront Property

If you’re into this whole “climate change threatens coastal ecosystems” thing (and you should be, because, you know, science and all that), Climate Central has an interactive map that shows how sea-level rise could affect coastal areas.

Here’s Houston, Texas with a one-foot rise in sea levels:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.08.09 PM

And here it is with a ten-foot rise: Continue reading

Share

Preaching to the Choir

This bit of news from the legal world probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise:

Florida Bar President Ramon Abadin invited every male South Florida law firm managing partner to a speech he gave Wednesday about gender bias in the legal profession. Apparently just one showed up, the head of a small law firm.

“I’m highly disappointed there aren’t more positions of power here in the room,” he said. “I realize I’m preaching to the choir.”

Anger bubbled over in the sold-out room dominated by women in the Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. The chapter hosted Abadin weeks after a Florida Bar survey of female attorneys found widespread sexism in the justice system, with 43 percent of women reporting personal experience with gender bias.

“I thought the number should be zero,” he said. “In my naive mind, maybe it would be 5 percent. But people privately tell me the number is actually higher.”

At least he knows now, so I guess that’s something. Continue reading

Share

Monday Morning Cute: Spiders (Well, Maybe…)

Can spiders ever be cute? The creator of this listicle at the website LOL Gallery Infatuation seems to think so. I generally—and rather vehemently—disagree, which is why this post does not reproduce any of the pictures displayed over there.

I have addressed the question of whether arthropods can ever meet the standard human definition of “cute” before, and I’ve even found some examples among the insects and the crustaceans. I do not feel that I am ready, however, to extend any amount of squee to the arachnids, especially the members of the order Araneae. Maybe I just need time…

Others clearly disagree with me, though: Continue reading

Share

Are You F—ing Kidding Me?

I am a bit too angry to see straight, but need to share the utter, reprehensible ridiculousness of this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.04.12 PM

An ex-stripper who went on to law school and later was elected a judge was found dead inside her Nevada home Sunday, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Her body was discovered during a welfare check, the report said, and authorities do not suspect foul play.

Municipal Judge Diana Hampton, who was 50, was known by colleagues as a hard worker and appeared to be the perfect picture of health. Her death shocked colleagues, one of whom told the paper he planned to have lunch with the judge this week.

Hampton, who served as a municipal judge for more than a decade, worked with youth in the community to discourage them from crime.

Hampton took an unusual route to her judgeship. She was criticized during her 2005 run for Henderson Department 3 for working as a stripper in Las Vegas prior to pursuing law school. It was a part of her past she did not disavow and reaffirmed that her past had nothing to do with how she would rule from the bench.

“From the very beginning, she decided she was going to be a judge,” said Joe Sciscento, a justice of the peace who knew Hampton for more than 20 years. “She was dedicated to that. She was focused on that, and she wouldn’t let things get in her way.”

[Emphasis added] Continue reading

Share

The Limits of Free Speech

Police Consider Charging Trump With Inciting a Riot Over Violence at North Carolina Rally, Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story, March 14, 2016:

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s office is considering filing charges of inciting a riot against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for the Fayetteville, North Carolina rally according to anNBC reporter and local media sources. The rally was the site where Trump supporter John Franklin McGraw was arrested for sucker-punching a black protester and threatening to kill him.

“We are looking at the totality of these circumstances, including any additional charges against Mr. McGraw, including the potential of whether there was conduct on the part of Mr. Trump or the Trump campaign which rose to the level of inciting a riot,” Sheriff’s Office lawyer Ronnie Mitchell told The Fayetteville Observer.

At the rally, Trump asked the audience “Can’t we have a little more action than this?” when protesters were causing a disturbance. “See, in the good old days this didn’t use to happen, because they used to treat them very rough,” he said. “We’ve become very weak.”

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969): Continue reading

Share