7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.16)

1. A 34-year court employee helps a defendant secure a DNA test that proves him innocent of the crime for which he was about to be sent to prison. The judge who had previously denied the DNA test called the employee into his office. Guess what for? Was it: A. To thank her for preventing him from negligently committing a grievous miscarriage of justice; or B. To fire her for “insubordination.”

If you guessed “A,” then you’ve mistaken this judge for a decent, intelligent man who really believes in the justice system and/or justice at all. If you guessed “B,” you’re right.

The judge’s name is David Byrn. David Byrn made a serious mistake. Then he retaliated against the woman who corrected his mistake. David Byrn is not fit to be a judge. “Your honor?” Not even close.

2. Daniel Nuckols wants you to know that he has the most extreme Maddonna/whore complex you’ve ever seen. And he’s proud of this. Crippling neuroses really shouldn’t be confused with piety.

3. “It’s nice to think that Republican voters might notice that their party’s policies are causing pain in their own communities, but that strikes us as a tad optimistic. After all, when a Republican voter gets food stamps, it’s a temporary necessity that is only fair because they’ve paid their taxes. It’s always those other people that are lazy moochers.”

4. Speaking of  moochers. …

5. “It is a recent development — Jones dates the ‘tipping point’ to 2011 — and it has helped marginalize gay-marriage opponents by discrediting their most powerful claim: that they speak for the religious community.”

Hallelujah. The pretenders to the moral high ground have become so accustomed to others accepting that pretense that they’ve long since bothered offering any attempt at moral justification for why they should be viewed as the authoritative Voice of Morality. The emperors have no clothes. The emperors aren’t even emperors.

It’s long past time we stopped uncritically accepting the presumption that they speak for God. Their lack of morals — yes, denying the equality of others is immoral — really undermines their claim to moral authority.

6. Grandmere Mimi, one of my favorite Louisiana bloggers, recommends Tim Murphy’s fascinating, frightening account of the ongoing disaster in Bayou Corne, “Meet the Town That’s Being Swallowed by a Sinkhole.” It is, she says, “one of the best of the accounts I’ve read of the events that led up to the sinkhole collapse, its increase in size, and the consequences that followed for the people who live or once lived in the area.”

Here’s a taste:

What happened in Bayou Corne, as near as anyone can tell, is that one of the salt caverns Texas Brine hollowed out — a mine dubbed Oxy3 — collapsed. The sinkhole initially spanned about an acre. Today it covers more than 24 acres and is an estimated 750 feet deep. It subsists on a diet of swamp life and cypress trees, which it occasionally swallows whole. It celebrated its first birthday recently, and like most one-year-olds, it is both growing and prone to uncontrollable burps, in which a noxious brew of crude oil and rotten debris bubbles to the surface. But the biggest danger is invisible; the collapse unlocked tens of millions of cubic feet of explosive gases, which have seeped into the aquifer and wafted up to the community. The town blames the regulators. The regulators blame Texas Brine. Texas Brine blames some other company, or maybe the regulators, or maybe just God.

7. Vorjack compares the very similar philosophies of John Piper and Professor Pangloss. Pangloss, a fictional character in Candide, was Voltaire’s devastating satire of Leibnizian optimism, which Voltaire summed up as “everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

Well, it should have been a devastating satire, anyway, but obviously this philosophy survived Voltaire’s attack and remains quite popular, particularly among Calvinists like Piper, who seem unaware that this idea was definitively turned into a punchline more than 250 years ago.


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  • dpolicar

    > whose last words

    We live in hope.

  • dpolicar

    (shrug) Who am I to judge? If a fish decides its life is improved by having a bicycle, that’s great. And if a fish decides to live its life without a bicycle, that’s fine with me too.

    Ultimately it’s up to the fish.

    And the bicycle, I suppose, in this strange metaphorical world in which fish and bicycles both have agency.

  • You owe me a new keyboard, dude.

  • dpolicar

    My work here is done, then.

  • Turcano

    This is a world that has After Eden, so no.

    Although the fact that it’s hosted on a site called Twitpic is unintentionally amusing.

  • heckblazer

    They link to a copy of the court order. Sometimes the Alien Tort Statute of 1789 gets some results.

  • lowtechcyclist

    But I’m glad he’s not, anymore. Being AofC, and feeling like he had to represent the entirety of the Anglican Communion, really seemed to hem him in. I remember being so excited – astounded, really – when he was named as the next Archbishop. But it very much feels like he can say things now, as he did before, that he felt he couldn’t as AofC.

  • Fusina

    I don’t think youth is the reason. I’d never heard of her either.

    Ah, thanks for the heads up?

  • Fusina

    So maybe we can start a Real Feminists Actually Chose what they do with their lives movement? I got it from my sister, who told me she couldn’t understand why women would ever chose to be stay at home Mums…to her sister who chose precisely that. And then she doesn’t understand why I don’t like her.

    (That is not the only thing she has done–she is a nasty person with whom I choose not to associate with in general)

  • LoneWolf343

    I know it’s awkward. The article uses both “tried” and “sued.”

  • chgo_liz

    This is so true, and so frustrating.

    I was part of the second wave (as a teenager). Even then, I knew that we were concentrating on only a slice of the problem, not the whole pie. One of the long term results is that the definition of feminism has been twisted into a couple of different judgmental ideologies which do not serve in any positive way.

    People who believe in the ideals of feminism don’t want to be labeled “feminist”. That says it all.

  • chgo_liz

    Well, actually….I was in those meetings in the 1970’s, and I have to tell you that personal assumptions did play into policy direction.

    There were a number of us daughters who had to take on the “traditional” roles of housewife and mother because our mothers were sick of it all and wanted out. Mine traveled the country giving speeches about how adult women were too good for that sort of work (which still needed doing, so guess who was stuck at home doing it?). I joke that the most lasting legacy of Second Wave Feminism for me is that it taught me how to be a 1950’s housewife.

    I feel that the foundation was not set properly, and that’s why we’re stuck in constant repair mode.

  • I think one of the problems with this flavor of feminism – the sort that denigrates women for choosing to be stay-at-home mothers or caretakers – is that it commits the same error that misogynist thinking does: it’s dismissive toward stay-at-home caretaking. It assimilates the patriarchal assumptions about women’s work on its way toward trying to break women free of narrow ideas of women’s work. Unfortunately, one of the legacies it’s left behind is a strengthening of the idea that women’s traditional work — motherhood, housewifery, teaching, nursing — is worthless, when it ought to have said “Women can do any sort of work, AND any sort of work that women do is damn well work, whether in the home or out of it, and you should respect it as such.”

    “But whyyyy didn’t you chose a career?” should be firmly answered with “You ignorant idiot. I did.

  • AnonaMiss

    OK so I’m a feminist who does have a much less extreme version of the ‘SAHMing is less feminist’ idea and I would like to explain it a little bit.

    Feminism is about being able to make your own choices; however, it is also about having the freedom to make your own choices. And sometimes, certain avenues of choice need to be ‘held open’ or expanded by a volume of women actually making that choice. Framing feminism as celebrating individual women’s rights to make their own choices, hides the fact that individual women’s choices can affect – positively or negatively – the ability for women to make the same or different choices in the future.

    An example close to my heart is that of women in engineering, where for
    various reasons women’s participation has
    been declining over the last few decades – which
    makes the men’s club worse, which makes it harder for women to get in to engineering (relative to men) now than it was 30 years ago.

    Does this mean that to be a feminist, you need to pursue a career in engineering? Of course not. But it does mean that a woman who chooses to pursue a career in engineering is making it that much slightly more normal to be a woman in engineering, which makes it that much slightly easier for future women to enter engineering fields. And if the alternative that she chooses an engineering career over is a traditionally-female pursuit, I think that’s a better choice all other things being equal.

    I am very aware that all other things are not equal. Individuals know their own circumstances best and I would never dream of telling someone that their choice made them Not A Feminist. But I think it’s important while making the choice to keep in mind the ramifications of the choices on future generations of women as one factor to consider when you make that choice.

    And yes, it may be that spending extra time with your kids will help them to be more feminist and open doors for themselves or others in the future. (Though I’d argue that it would be more effective if it was their dad who stayed at home providing that extra time and attention, as his mere existence would provide an object lesson in the lies of the patriarchy.) (Recognizing that not all families have dads, but then most families without dads can’t afford to have a SAHM, except for lesbian couples, who already provide an object lesson in the lies of the patriarchy.)

    I am not criticizing your individual choices in your individual circumstances. I don’t even know your individual circumstances. And even if I did and if I still disagreed with your choices, I would defend to the death your right to make them.

    But I disagree that all choices are equally feminist just by virtue of being choices; and I think that as career choices go, being a SAHM is one of the less feminist ones for a family which has a meaningful choice in the matter.

    (But then, for families which don’t have a meaningful choice in the matter, being a SAHM shouldn’t be celebrated as a feminist course of action, because no choice.)

  • AnonaMiss

    (This was intended as a reply to the whole comment thread and it looks like I accidentally posted it to a reply on a comment which it isn’t especially relevant to. There’s no hidden relevance directed at your situation, Alix; it’s a rant I’ve had building up in me for a while.)

  • Evan

    Fortunately, things probably aren’t quite as bad as that. Apparently, prosecutors threaten people with such extreme sentences even if there’s next to no chance of their ever getting them… which is another problem, but not quite as bad.

  • Lorehead

    She should request compensation as the only effective counsel the state gave that defendant.

  • Lori

    People who believe in the ideals of feminism don’t want to be labeled “feminist”. That says it all.

    It really doesn’t. The fact that people who believe in the ideals of feminism don’t want to be labeled feminist is not simply because 2nd wave feminism made mistakes. There has been a concerted effort to misrepresent and stigmatize the word feminist. Mistakes made by the movement made it easier for those efforts to succeed, but that’s a long way from being the whole story.

  • The point I was indeed making is that it goes beyond just one person.

  • Also, neither have I. But Canada doesn’t have a culture of prosecutor-worship since they aren’t elected, so that creates a cultural blind spot for me, in that I don’t spot publicity about them.

  • Fusina

    But I disagree that all choices are equally feminist just by virtue of
    being choices; and I think that as career choices go, being a SAHM is
    one of the less feminist ones for a family which has a meaningful choice in the matter.

    But until we are free to make this a choice that is considered by all as legitimate as any other career choice, we will continue to be second class.

    My rant is, Why? Why is being a home-maker less celebrated than, oh, say, an engineer? It is a job, day in, day out, and you are on call 24/7. You don’t get a vacation, you can’t call in sick, and you do all this without any monetary compensation at all. And then, on top of it, you get dissed for choosing the wrong career. Even if it is the career you are best suited for, talent- and temperament-wise.

  • lowtechcyclist

    That should be Fox News’ motto.

  • Alix

    And, y’know, I’m all behind the kind of systemic work needed to give women (and men) more life choices. And I’ve never had a problem with people criticizing on a systemic/societal level.

    Some people, though, do absolutely criticize people for their individual choices, and that crosses a line for me. Others skirt real close to that edge, making broad (and often disparaging) comments and then when they get called on it pulling the “what? I wasn’t criticizing you” line.

    Should women who want to be engineers be able to be so without having to fight through a bunch of sexist, old-boy’s-club bullshit to do it? Absolutely. Are there societal and systemic things that need to be done to get to that point? Hell yes.

    But I also think it’s important to not just swap one set of “musts” for another. It’s important, in getting more choices for women, not to close the door to other choices, even if they are more traditional.

    It’s like … I wear skirts. Long, shapeless ones, ’cause I like them. I hate pants. I hate short skirts. And I’ve had people tell me I’m not being feminist enough because I wear the kind of skirts that a lot of conservative Christians find appropriate for women.

    …So what? I like those skirts. They’re comfy. It doesn’t hurt anyone that I’m not wearing pants. Not everybody has to fight the same fight, and I’m not somehow a lesser being less committed to women’s rights because I wear skirts. Same with homemaking. But that’s the message a certain segment of feminists keep telling me.

    I don’t know that all this makes sense. And again, I consider a lot of the societal/systemic critiques and work really valid and important, and I know it’s not all feminists who feel like they have a right to judge me and critique my identity*. But it’s a group of feminists that have hurt me pretty bad, and I keep running into the same sentiments over and over again.

    *What hurts more, and what really fucked me up for a long while, are the feminists who think they get to pick apart my sexuality and gender. At least most critiques of homemaking are more about social roles and not one’s personhood.

  • Alix

    It’s less celebrated because it’s traditional “women’s work.”

    This is something that frustrates me immensely, not just about homemaking, but about other traditionally-feminine things. Even feminists devalue this stuff, rank it as lesser than women doing traditionally men’s stuff.

    I’ve been told I can’t be genderqueer ’cause I wear skirts, to move away from the homemaker example. Because skirts, as we all know, are things only for women, and pants are for people. Someone pointed out once (actually, probably many times, but I’m thinking of one essay I read ages ago) that our fantasy novels never truly celebrate traditionally feminine pursuits – things are always structured around manly actions. (Not universally true, but it’s still a fair point.) Etc., etc.

    I’m rather at the point of telling people they can just fuck off. If their movement has no place for much of me, I have no time to spend on them. I don’t accept anyone trying to mold me to their image.

  • Alix

    I guess shorter me is: You can ask women to choose careers in male-dominated fields. You can give them incentives to do so, support to do so, help break down barriers that keep those who want in out.

    But you don’t get to demand that women choose what you want them to choose. You don’t get to insist that women choose the more “feminist” career option, just because it will help achieve feminist aims. And you especially don’t get to do this to people who aren’t interested in those jobs in the first place, nor do you get to demean them for not being you/making the choices you want them to make. (General “you,” by the way – I don’t feel like you’re doing any of that here.)

    If there were no barriers to (people perceived as) women in engineering, I still wouldn’t be one. My talents and interests lie very strongly in the areas of history, art, and various aspects of homemaking – the fact that some of that plays into the patriarchal narrative? Doesn’t matter, because you don’t dismantle a problematic narrative by replacing it with another problematic one.

    You break it down from both sides. You get more women interested in traditionally-male careers into those careers. You get more men interested in traditionally-female careers (including homemaking) into those. You let men interested in traditionally male things and women interested in traditionally female things still follow those interests, as long as it’s something they’re truly choosing. And you get them to support their brothers and sisters who are choosing against tradition. That’s the only way things stop being traditionally the sphere of one gender or another – by becoming a thing of all genders.

    It’s like, you don’t just break down childhood gender socialization by giving girls trucks, but by giving boys dolls too, and letting girls still play with dolls and boys still play with trucks so they just see all those as toys, and not “girl toys” and “boy toys.” (Yes, I know it’s more complicated than that. It’s an analogy.)

    …This wasn’t really shorter, was it? XD Sorry.

  • Alix

    Real shorter me: we don’t get anywhere by tearing each other down, but by building each other up.

  • Carstonio

    Are you saying that women who choose to be SAHMs when their families have meaningful choices help perpetuate the old sexist gender roles? If so, that sounds to me like an admission that the sexists are right about roles being suited for the sexes. My own goal is to do away with gender roles entirely – society and culture shouldn’t say that raising children at home is a feminine role, or that engineering is a masculine role. I have strong reservations about framing the issue as women having obligations to defy gendered expectations. My approach would be encouraging girls, and boys, to pursue whatever vocations fit their desires and abilities.

  • Amaryllis

    we don’t get anywhere by tearing each other down, but by building each other up.

    Yes, because while we’re still framing this debate as whose choices are more valid, it means that the choices themselves don’t have to change– and that some people never get the chance to choose at all.

    In my ideal world, both women and men would be able, over the course of their working lives, to do paid work part-time, ordinary full-time, no-life-outside-the-office “all-in” time, or not at all, as their circumstances change. And it would all “count” for resume points, retirement benefits points, social points.

    In that world, an adult working full-time would be able to support a family. Medical care wouldn’t be tethered to someone in the household having that kind of job. Child care and elder care would count as work for the purposes of Social Security.

    In that world, one person’s choices wouldn’t affect another person’s chances.

    But the way things are now… bold disclaimer: I an not judging anyone’s choices in this thread or anywhere else; I have no right to judge and neither does anyone else.. and I’ve been judged for some of the choices my family has made and it isn’t pleasant… anyway, the way things are now, I can kinda see AnonaMiss’s point. The fewer women there are in a given field, the harder it is for women to enter or advance in that field. The more women who leave work to raise children, the easier it is for the powers-that-be to give the next promotion to a man, or a childless woman, instead of the woman with kids. The more women who are at home with their kids, the fewer women are “in the pipeline” for senior positions, the easier it is for the powers-that-be to justify the mostly-male management. And the more male the management, the less incentive there is for the company to make changes that benefit women. And other people with children– part-time and flex-time and parental leave and “opting out” are theoretically available to men, but you don’t see many men choosing them, because they don’t think they have a real choice. The change isn’t just in making those kinds of arrangements available, it’s in treating the people who make them, women and men, as valuable workers. And in treating those who devote themselves to child-raising– women or men– as doing valuable work now which ALSO doesn’t disqualify them for returning to the paid work force later.

    None of that is to say that any particular woman has to make any particular choice. We all make choices based on our own needs and interests, your kids only get one childhood and you can’t go back and “reload” the parts of it you missed or got wrong. But as things are now, we’ve got the paid-working mothers and the SAHMs sniping at each other’s choices, and we’ve got low-income workers and single parents and men in general resenting the fact that some women have the luxury of “choice.”

    I’d like to see a world where such choices are really free.

    I have no idea how to get there from here.

  • I believe that a prophet of God has said that widespread legislation to approve gay marriage will bring pain and suffering to all involved. I trust those whom I have accepted as my spiritual leaders. I feel that what they have said is God’s will

    Wow. He’s just ripe for a crisis of faith there, putting so much of his faith in his “prophet” and so little in the value of love.

  • Yeah. That tends to be the case when you put your faith in the hands of fallible humans. It saddens me, because I really, really like his writing, and this is one place in which he is so far in the wrong that I barely know where to begin addressing it.

  • phantomreader42

    The court is supposed to convict the person who is actually guilty, not send random innocent people to jail for no reason. How does helping an innocent person get out of jail cause the justice system to collapse? Or do you think the justice system exists to punish innocent people?

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    Those straw men are not particularly helpful. The court’s job is to make rulings of law and enforce judgments. The gentleman in this case was not “sent to jail for no reason.” He was convicted by a jury. The jury was wrong, but that’s the decision that it made based on the evidence. Are you proposing that the court should assume that EVERY person who wants a DNA test was wrongly convicted?

    In a perfect world, that obviously wouldn’t happen. But it does, so legislatures have put in place procedures for the convicted to challenge their convictions with DNA evidence. The person here didn’t show that he met requirements, and the judge denied his first two motions, then granted it the third time when he DID make the necessary showing. This is obviously not perfect, but if you can think of a better system (other than “be perfect and don’t ever convict innocent people”), please elaborate.

    How does helping an innocent person get out of jail cause the justice system to collapse? The court is not supposed supposed to give the parties legal advice, which clearly seems to be what happened here. That the result is a Good Thing isn’t particularly relevant unless believe that ends justify means.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    A Loblaw law bomb.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    people should not have to jump through hoops to get DNA that could exonerate them tested.

    There’s a difference between “jumping through hoops” and failing to put the basic substance before the judge that tells him/her WHY you should be entitled to the test. If we were talking about a situation where the person in question didn’t do something like submit 3 notarized copies on A3 paper with a cardstock backing to the 6th floor of the 3rd building on 2nd street, I would agree with you.

    But from the facts that are available, he apparently didn’t submit the necessary substance to show the judge WHY he was entitled to the test. All the judge gets is a piece of paper and has to make a decision based on the information that it contains.

    Moreover, far from not “hav[ing] the human decency to ask some questions,” the judge “appointed Laura O’Sullivan, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, to represent him.”

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    It was because she told him that there was a precedent and where he could find the information he needed.

    It’s pretty clear that this is NOT what happened. It wasn’t that there was precedent, i.e., a court decision that could help him out. The clerk did something to the extent of saying “Here, this guy’s motion worked. Just copy it.”

    While that motion was “publicly available” (as all court filings are), singling it out and suggesting that he follow the same course of action clearly crosses the line. See borodino21’s helpful discussion below.

  • Hilary

    I hope you took a look at the comments on LJF about that cartoon. Here’s some good ones.

  • Derrick Murphy

    In all fairness to Leibniz, Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss was a caricature. Leibniz, for example, didn’t use the expression “best of all possible worlds” in the way most of us today would. This expression was used to describe a world with the simplest laws of nature with the most variety of phenomena. This world was the best of all possible world because it was the most elegantly made world.

  • Fusina

    I just went back and read them. Hee, Keeping a smile on my face because if I don’t I’m gonna start strangling people. Hee. I’ve had days like that.

    My son, who I think may become a priest/pastor/something of the sort, came to me yesterday with a comment about how he doesn’t believe Heaven and Hell are what people think they are. Because God wouldn’t do that (send people to hell) because that is not what God does. He is sixteen. He has also come to the conclusion that Christians, Jews, and Muslims should get along better, because the God they worship is the same, we just have different beliefs about him/her. *

    Your mileage may vary, but I think that’ll preach.

    *We need a better word for indeterminate sex than it.

  • But why should you have to prove that you are “entitled” to a test that could exonerate you? The saying about how it is better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be imprisoned should ensure that anyone who wants a test that could exonerate him or her should be allowed to get to one.

    A DNA test doesn’t cost a million dollars. A commercial paternity test, which looks for markers in common between two sets of genes, just like court tests do, costs around $400. The courts probably get them more cheaply than that.

  • chgo_liz

    I hear what you’re saying. I wasn’t being clear: my comment was specific to Alix’s example, as someone who is knowledgeable and sympathetic to feminism but has had direct insults to her lifestyle from people claiming to speak for feminism. That was true in the 1970s and continues to be true today, but of course is not the total experience of sexism.

  • arcseconds

    I think the comparison with Pangloss is entirely inapt. Nowhere does Piper say or suggest that it’s the best world. He just thinks God can do what he damn well please with it.

  • Derrick Murphy

    Didn’t mean to have two comments, but I haven’t figured out how to delete these yet.

  • Derrick Murphy

    Piper has said that in the past, if I’m not mistaken, though. Plus, it’s easy to see how his view can be used to argue for that claim. God can make the world exactly how he wants it, down to the last and most minute detail. So, why wouldn’t he make it the best that he possibly could? It’s not like there are any factors beyond his control to take into account. Of course, that assumes that there is a best way God could make the world (which I think omnipotence rules out, actually, but I won’t get into that), but it’s easy to see how someone with Piper’s view could end up with a Panglossian viewpoint.

  • Donalbain

    No.. but they should make sure that everyone who wants a DNA test GETS one.

  • Madhabmatics

    yo would you agree with the statement:

    ““Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached”?

  • Sounds like the kind of thing Scalia would say. In fact, he has said as much. <.<

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    No, I wouldn’t.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    The court has to carry out whatever rules the legislature has set down. So if the legislature says “If you show X, Y, and Z, you get a DNA test,” the court can’t let you get a DNA test. (If that’s problematic to you, your beef is with the legislature, not the court.)

    Moreover, I imagine that if you think about it, a literal “everyone who wants a DNA test gets one” standard is not realistic, practicable, and would simply make it harder for those who actually were wrongly convicted to get a fair hearing.