RSSCategory: Law

The Effect of Concepts Creeping to the Left

October 24, 2017 | By | 3 Replies More

In this paper titled, “Why Concepts Creep to the Left,” Jonathan Haidt supplements Nick Haslam’s paper titled “Concept Creep,” in which concepts such as bullying, trauma and addiction morph over time. And there are newish terms that have become prominent and expansive in recent years, “trigger warnings” and “microaggressions.” But these concepts don’t merely change. They change to the whims of the political left. And they especially change for current students and young adults rather than those over 40. In his article, Haidt asks why there is a direction to that change. Haidt writes:

These terms are part of a new conceptual package that includes all of the older concepts long referred to as “political correctness” but with greatly expanded notions of harm, trauma, mental illness, vulnerability, and harassment. These concepts seem to have expanded in just the way that Haslam (2016) describes — horizontally, to take in new kinds of cases (such as adding the reading of novels to the list of traumatizing activities) and vertically, to take in ever less extreme versions of older cases (as is made explicit by the prefix “micro” in the word “microaggression”). In this conceptually augmented political correctness, the central idea seems to be that many college students are so fragile that institutions and right-thinking people must all work together to protect vulnerable individuals from exposure to words and ideas that could damage them in a lasting way. If this protection requires banning certain speakers from campus, or punishing student newspapers that publish opinions that upset the dominant campus sensibility, then so be it.

What are the reasons for this expansion of these concepts to the left. Haidt explores several possibilities . ..

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Mob behavior and threats to free speech described and discussed by Nicholas Christakis

October 11, 2017 | By | Reply More

I recommend this excellent discussion by Nicholas Christakis on the topics of mob behavior, moral panics, and current threats to free speech. Illiberal behavior is destroying our ability to talk with each other, notably on the places where we would most expect vigorous exchanges of ideas: college campuses. Christakis is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the area of biosocial science, investigating the biological predicates and consequences of social phenomena. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University. Sam Harris presents this discussion on his Waking Up podcast.

At the tail end of the podcast, Christakis and Harris mention the work of Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.

FIRE has achieved long successful string of legal victories through its Speech Litigation Project. 

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Sam Harris comments on Black Lives Matters

September 16, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

I’m am largely in agreement with Sam Harris on these issues.

There are more than a few bad cops out there, and lots of good cops. There are some totally innocent people who are being victimized by the bad cops.  There are also some people who are unwisely pushing back at cops on the street, in situations where emotions are peaking and there is a gun “on the table.”  And there are many people out there over-generalizing and sanitizing (one way or the other) an ever growing disparate collection of street encounters between cops and African-American, where the African Americans end up getting shot by cops.

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What the Bible actually says about abortion.

September 2, 2017 | By | Reply More

Here’s a fascinating post from a quirky and thoughtful website called “Bible Funmentionables.”

In this particular post, Michael Morris puts on his news reporter hat and simply asks what “God” had to say about abortion.

But many of the same people who give God a pass for allowing so many embryos to die, would like us to believe that God is punishing us for not making all abortions stop. Setting aside the fact that making abortions illegal does not cause them to stop, let’s examine what the Bible says DIRECTLY about abortion.

Spoiler alert: “It’s clear that if pro-lifers want to bring the Bible into the debate, the Bible is NOT on their side.” The evidence presented at Bible Funmentionables includes passages like this:

If his soul is not filled with good, and he does not receive proper burial, I say that an aborted birth is better than he. —Ecclesiastes 6:3

I’d encourage a visit to this post to prepare you for the next time a Bible thumper tells you that the Bible prohibits abortion.  You will be prepared to intelligently discuss the issue by citing chapter and verse.

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Rick Steves’ Pragmatic Approach to Terrorism

May 23, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

I’ve long admired Rick Steves, not only for his immensely useful travel resources, but for his world view and his willingness to speak up on difficult topics, such as advocating for the decriminalization of drugs.

Another topic on which he has taken a courageous stand is the way we, as a nation, react to terrorism. Here’s what Steves had to say (in 2006):

I think we’re 300 million people and if we lose a few hundred people a year to terrorists, that doesn’t change who we are and it shouldn’t change the fabric of our society. Frankly I think we should get used to losing—as long as we’re taking the stance in the world of being the military superpower, you’re going to have people nipping at you. And if it’s hundreds or thousands—we lose 15,000 people a year to have the right to bear arms and most people think that’s a good deal, year after year. We spend 15,000 people for the right to bear arms. What do we spend to be as aggressive and heavy weight on this planet? We’re always going to have terrorism.

I agree with Steves. Zero tolerance regarding terrorism is ruining us. We tolerate death as inevitable in many other spheres without freaking out, clamping down on civil rights and indiscriminately bombing people overseas.

Yes, you should try to prevent (all) acts of violence, but occasionally you will fail to prevent deaths, as happens with gun violence, drunken driving, texting while driving, cigarette smoking, lack of medical care, eating crappy food and lack to exercise. How many people die early because they are forced to go to terrible schools, which sends them into a downward spiral?

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Why the war on drugs is worse than the drugs themselves.

May 16, 2017 | By | Reply More

Peter Christ, founder of LEAP (“Law Enforcement Action Partnership”). The war on drugs is worse than the drugs themselves, as Peter Christ’s explains in this video:

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Appellate Law in the Trenches

May 4, 2017 | By | Reply More

I was happy with the turnout and quality of speakers for today’s seminar sponsored by the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis: “Appellate Lawyering in the Trenches.” I had the honor of being the organizer, but most of the work was done by the following presenters: Eric Martin, Beth Carver and Barbara Smith (Bryan Cave), Jeff McPherson (Armstrong Teasdale), Hon. Colleen Dolan and Joy Hannell (Missouri Court of Appeals), John Campbell (Campbell Law),and Shannan Hall (BAMSL). We have already received lots of good feedback from those attending and I look forward to doing something like this again within the next year or two.

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It’s time to help raise lots of money for Melania Trump

March 24, 2017 | By | Reply More

It’s stunningly clear that Melania Trump can’t stand Don’t Trump, yet she is still married to him. That she is extremely uncomfortable around Donald is increasingly clear from widely available photos and videos of the two of them.  And see here.  Recent revelations suggest Melania despises Donald and won’t sleep with him.  Further, Melania has no intention of living in the White House even though it’s a big house with a lot of room for the entire family.  So why does she stay with him?  And why won’t she go public with detailed stories about Donald’s misconduct and potential illegalities?

When Donald Trump married Melania Knauss we know for a fact that he forced her to sign a prenuptial agreement.   That agreement is carefully hidden from public view, but we know enough about Trump’s love of money and power, as well as his vindictiveness and narcissism, that we can assume that the prenup is laden with incentives to keep Melania well-behaved and quiet.

But why limit the legal restrictions to a prenup? There are additional types of contracts that Trump could have foisted on Melania, before or since the wedding. Imagine that you were a psychopath like Trump?  What else would you entice Melenia to sign? How about non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement agreements laden with penalties for whispering even a word about Donald’s dirty laundry? The Donald Trump we all know would rig his agreements with Melania so that she would be financially incentivized dress up pretty, quietly stand there to look like a wife but keep her mouth shut.   Donald Trump’s penalty-filled contracts with Melania, crafted by the best lawyers money can buy, would make sure that Melania would end up destitute if dishes Donald’s dirt.  None of this is difficult to imagine.

What do we need to do to hear Melania’s front-row seat stories about Trump’s double-dealing, lying, betrayals and illegalities?   What if we set up a “Free Melania!” GoFundMe page?  What if we raised enough money for Melania to share copies of the contracts Donald made her sign?  What if we raised so much money that even a gold-digger like Melania would have enough money to live on after she files the divorce papers and tells all?

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A Matter of Legitimacy

January 9, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More
A Matter of Legitimacy

Barack Obama had to be delegitimized. In the brawl over the last eight years, perhaps they succeeded on a level not intended. They did not, I think, manage to delegitimize President Obama. Rather, they fulfilled one of Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical dictums and managed to delegitimize the idea of governance.

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