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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  • Daniel

    Completely OT for this post, but relevant to numerous previous ones:

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/15/rowan-williams-persecuted-christians-grow-up

  • Zed

    Smart guy this Rowan Williams.

  • LoneWolf343

    Well, he was the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Sugah Wahls

    So was that moron Carey.

  • LoneWolf343

    Alas.

  • 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.

  • Carstonio

    In another thread, I said that the Atlantic article falsely accuses marriage equality proponents of arguing against religion a few years ago. It blames them for the perception among much of the public that religion was on one side and gay rights on the other, instead of examining the hateful “family values” rhetoric.

  • Carstonio

    Even if Snyder did violate several court rules in securing Nelson’s exoneration, and if Byrn were obligated to punish the infractions for legal reasons, I would think that a reprimand or a suspension would be more appropriate given the good that she has done.

  • Vermic

    The good news (or at least mitigating news) is that Snyder was going to be retiring in a few months anyway, and that she won’t be losing her pension. It’s a more severe punishment than appropriate, but less harmful than it might have been.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    But you fail to see that the criminal justice system is ~perfect~ and should not be questioned in any way.

    Thus spake the Real True Patriots.

  • ReverendRef

    I think it’s less a case of the criminal justice system being ~perfect~ and more a case of some uppity woman daring to challenge or question the authority of a male judge.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  • aunursa

    Thus spake the Real True Patriots
    Nancy Grace.

    Fixed.

  • Nathaniel

    Excuse me, but who is Nancy Grace, and why should I care she exists?

  • aunursa

    Follow the links.

    See Lori’s link below.

  • Lori

    Are you in the US? If you are, and you have managed to avoid any awareness of Nancy Grace’s existence you are truly blessed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Grace

    aunursa’s link made a good point, not just about Nancy Grace, but about about the people in general who reflexively believe that everyone charged with a crime is guilty and judges never make mistakes.

  • Nathaniel

    I’m young enough that I never watch TV news or TV “news” networks. Guess that’s how I missed her.

  • Fusina

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

    Ah, thanks for the heads up?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

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

  • reynard61

    Well, it certainly sends a mixed message about the U.S. “Legal” system. (Not to mention our so-called “Justice” system.) We’re always on and on about “Do the Right Thing” and “If you see something, say something”, and Police and prosecutors are always moaning about how difficult it is to fight crime because witnesses “don’t want to get involved”; but then shit like this happens and they’re *still* surprised that no one wants to help them. Gee, I wonder why…

  • 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.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Jesus might ask: is it permitted to do good or to do evil as a non-lawyer court employee, to save life or to kill?

  • Lorehead

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

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Looks like Nuckols also has a comic about the evils of works-righteousness.

    Naturally, that comic includes our old friend Ephesians chapter 2, but Nuckols does not skip verse ten. Curious.

  • Zed

    Are these comics some kind of parody ?

    They look a bit over the top to be real.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    There’s too much inside baseball for it to be parody. Any smartass could do the ones about abortion or gays, of course, but there aren’t that many non-evangelicals who would know to denounce “ear tickling,” a term which I hadn’t heard before today (I think it refers to sermons that are considered too positive – can anyone confirm this?).

    Anyway, to get back to the original topic, here’s Nuckols on women and their weird ladybrains.

  • general_apathy

    “For real – I think I’m the very first guy to actually figure out how women think… ha ha”

    Yep, women sure do think that 3 + 2 = 5. Those wacky, wacky women.

    (Also, Eve’s body is apparently so offensive that she is buried in foliage up to the chin.)

  • Veleda_k

    But Complimentarians don’t disrespect women! No sirree.

  • J_Enigma32

    Here’s an example of just how reflexively I distrust anything a fundamentalist says:

    I was going to Google what base you’d have to be in for ” 3+2 = 5″, since a fundamentalist said it and clearly it couldn’t be right (but a snarky remark about it being in some other base than base-10 was in order, if applicable).

  • Carstonio

    It’s even worse with the caption. I can already hear the men’s rights activists whine that feminists would allegedly applaud if the cartoon was about how men supposedly think. (Perhaps with a thought balloon showing explosions, bombs, guns, fists and so forth.) If women who ascend to CEO posts at tech companies weren’t greeted with pointless ruminations about work-life balance, then perhaps the MRAs might have a shred of a valid point.

  • JustoneK

    okay what? I am intimately familiar with a lot of fundie culture, I’m in it down here, but ear tickling? wtf.
    to the google machine!

  • JustoneK

    and most of what google is giving me is about medical symptoms so far.

  • Antigone10

    http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/1046/Ear-Tickling-Entertainment-And-Irrelevant-Exposition.aspx

    Here’s an interesting article where he talks about the phenomenon. Not “interesting” as in “edifying and contemplative” but interesting in the sense of it explains what he means.

    You know, I’m a skeptic, and happily outside of the Christian church. And even I am getting irritated every time the conservative people go “Why are there so many people who go to Christian churches and we aren’t getting conservative politics?” I want shake them by the shoulders and go “Because some of the Christians are liberal!”

    I feel sort of bad for my liberal Christian friends. They’re cherry-picking the Bible as much as the conservative ones, but at least they KNOW they’re cherry-picking.

  • JustoneK

    a friend of mine has expressed that it’s literally impossible to be a Christian, modern or less so, without the cafeteria mentality, because it can directly, literally contradict. heck, it’s in Fred’s byline thingus up there.

    does it make sense to do the things we are morally opposed to even if we are commanded to do those things by our faith? that’s kinda my line. if it’s just sorta icky I’d wanna know why it seems sorta icky to me in the first place.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    does it make sense to do the things we are morally opposed to even if we are commanded to do those things by our faith?

    Brandon Sanderson on the topic of gay marriage somewhat gives me this vibe. He doesn’t seem to speak on his own behalf, only that of his faith’s. May be wishful thinking, but I feel like he’d be okay with it if it didn’t contradict the position of his church.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    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.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    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.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Google seems a bit confused by the term, but you’ll turn up a few articles if you search for something like “ear tickling sermons.” Best as I can tell, it’s a derogatory term for pastors who’ve moved away from fire-and-brimstone sermons, “tickling the ears” of their congregations. Some people also count partisan (read: liberal) sermons as “ear tickling.” Nuckols also seems to be including alternative church services (e.g. the use of contemporary music) in his condemnations, although that doesn’t seem to be part of the term as it is generally understood?

    You learn things in the weirdest places, don’t you?

  • JustoneK

    so it’s basically “people saying things I don’t like” again. the irony that the fire and brimstone is, itself, exactly what some people want to hear to re-affirm their lifestyles is prolly lost then.

  • Mark Z.

    2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.”

  • Mark Z.

    (Which is a perfectly sensible warning to avoid living in an echo chamber, and to make sure you have people you respect who will challenge you and not just repeat what you already believe back to you. But, predictably, it gets wielded as a cudgel against anyone teaching a message other than in-your-face condemnation. Because it’s never we who are living in the echo chamber, no way. Surely not, Lord.)

  • JustoneK

    Echo chamber = other people agreeing to things I don’t like. :P

  • lowtechcyclist

    That should be Fox News’ motto.

  • Lunch Meat

    “For real – I think I’m the very first guy to actually figure out how women think… haha, ;)”

    What the sith?? How can someone be smarmy enough to actually think that without imploding from their own self-adoration?

  • reynard61
  • http://talkingtocrows.tumblr.com/ VMtheCoyote

    We had a person here whose last words here were something along the lines of “I have undoubtedly raised the level of rationality in this place.” Never underestimate humanity.

  • dpolicar

    > whose last words

    We live in hope.

  • http://talkingtocrows.tumblr.com/ VMtheCoyote

    You owe me a new keyboard, dude.

  • dpolicar

    My work here is done, then.

  • reynard61

    I notice that he has his “comments” disabled. Coward…

  • J_Enigma32

    Funny, that weird ladybrain seems to look a lot like what I continually envision the inside of my head looking like.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    It’s been some time (decades) since I heard the phrase “ear-tickling”; it refers preachers preaching flattering and pleasant sermons for their parishioners.

  • http://talkingtocrows.tumblr.com/ VMtheCoyote

    He appears to be pretty serious.

  • 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.

  • http://talkingtocrows.tumblr.com/ VMtheCoyote

    …what. How do you even… what?

  • Abby Normal

    This dude rivals Chuck Asay for sheer headdeskedness.

  • Carstonio

    I haven’t seen Asay’s cartoons in years, partly for my own peace of mind. I would see one and think, “What the hell is this guy’s problem?” He would depict feminists as witches around cauldrons as if they were characters in Macbeth.

  • Vermic

    Asay retired from cartooning earlier this year. Our long national nightmare is over.

  • Abby Normal

    Slate used to show some of his stuff when they were still doing Cartoon Box. His stuff is so frustrating because he actually does some decentline work and had a style I’d probably like if his content wasn’t so batshitcrazy. That straw liberal character that he alwaysdid was maddening.

  • Vermic

    Looks like Nuckols also has a comic about the evils of works-righteousness.

    Not pictured in panel 1: the huge pile of filthy rags Faith Christian leaves for others to deal with, because GOOD DEEDS are for LOSERS lol.

  • J_Enigma32

    Anything to keep them from doing an honest day’s work…

  • Abby Normal

    #3: Another thing that I’ve heard from my parents that I won’t discuss at Thanksgiving. (A relative of mine has had to go on Medicaid and get subsidized housing due to health issues, which is okay by them because she worked up until now and earned those benefits with her tax dollars. Totally different from all those lazy freeloaders looking for handouts.)

  • MissMikey

    I filed for unemployment last May during the height of the Presidential campaign. My boyfriend and I went to see his parents since they were in town and after a couple of bottles of wine, his mom starts parroting the Fox News talking points about takers vs makers and the 47% and the whole nine.

    Normally I just let that kind of thing go, but I was a little rowdy because of all the wine. So pipe up and say “Hey, you’re talking about me!” and then his mom (who I really like except for the times she parrots Fox News) and the friends they were staying with all reassure me that no, they’re not talking about me they’re talking about those other. The one’s who didn’t pay into the system and the ones who (apparently) aren’t deserving of those benefits. And then of course I got the lovely, metaphorical, condescending pat on the head about how I’ll understand all of this better when I get older. I was 38 at the time!!!! I think I understand how things work just fine!

    His parents really want us to come visit them in Florida, but besides the expense of the visit, my boyfriend is seriously concerned that one or the other of us may spontaneously combust if we spend an extended period with them and their Fox News talking points.

  • Abby Normal

    Was Fred the one that wrote about Fox Geezer Syndrome?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    IIRC Fred wrote of it, but it actually originated here: http://www.frumforum.com/fox-geezer-syndrome

    In the event that doesn’t load (neither it nor its google cache version will for me), here’s the Internet Archive cache.

  • MissMikey

    I showed my boyfriend that article when Fred posted about it. It sums up his parents pretty well.

  • http://talkingtocrows.tumblr.com/ VMtheCoyote

    Re #5, it’s actually a bit conflicting. On the one hand, it is so very awesome that churches have become more welcoming. On the other hand…

    Gradually, and largely below the radar, religious Americans have powered this momentous shift.

    Yeah, exactly. Gradually, and largely below the radar. I’m increasingly looking around at my friends, many of whom have not so much left the church as been viciously kicked to the curb when their sexuality was revealed – or, in some cases, left because their friends were viciously kicked to the curb. This took place, for most of us, between… say the early 2000s up to pretty recently – maybe 2010 or so. A lot of us had very little idea that there were churches out there who didn’t hate us on sight. Sure, the UUs take everybody, and more power to them, but those of us who’re dyed-in-the-wool Trinitarians are still sort of wandering the streets… and occasionally being passed news articles, blog posts, and half-heard speeches about how Today’s Generation is turning their backs on God/the Church, and attendance numbers are down, and whyyy, and how do we get them back – all that jazz.

    We’re not turning our backs on God. We’re walking away from a church that has spent the last ten-twenty years kicking us out and cursing us and spitting on us. And still, even now, when I mention to my friends that I started attending a church where the bulletins say, under the name, “All are welcome here, regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation,” and so on, they light up. Some of us really miss the church. Some of us are thirsty and tired and sick of wandering alone.

    Maybe churches should stop talking about how they accept folks in dark alleys, under the radar, gradually, and start shouting it from the rooftops.

    (ETA: actually the second article says a lot of this, so… er, yeah. Hallelujah.)

  • mattmcirvin

    The UCC churches around here tend to put rainbow flags out front. (The UUs are actually a little more subdued, I think.)

  • LoneWolf343

    http://www.advocate.com/news/world-news/2013/08/15/scott-lively-will-be-tried-fueling-antigay-persecution-uganda Leaving this here because I want Fred to see and comment on it. A federal judge has ruled that an antigay evangelist can be tried for crimes against humanity for stirring up homophobia in Uganda.

  • mattmcirvin

    This boggles me. It’s the sort of thing I never expected to see happen in the United States, and I mean that in a good way.

  • Alix

    …Please tell me that article’s real, and not a joke.

  • LoneWolf343

    If it is a joke, this writer has the most epic deadpan ever.

  • Lori

    Not a joke. The Advocate doesn’t joke about Scott Lively.

  • heckblazer

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

  • J_Enigma32

    I’d love to see him stand and loose on the consequences of the first amendment. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences, and when you’re in a position of power and authority, the consequences of irresponsible speech can be very dire.

    That said, I expect Right-wing heads popping over how “correct their conspiracy theories are” in 3… 2…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Notably, he’s not being tried, he’s being sued, at least as far as I can tell. Big difference – I doubt people like him will even notice a few million dollars…

  • LoneWolf343

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

  • Fusina

    Not a good day for me to try dealing with my reactions to Nuckol’s misogyny. I had a slight car accident–no one was hurt, although the amount of damage to my car caused it to be ruled totaled–so off to car shop, heigh ho.

    What caused my feminist side to stand up and snarl was dealing with the insurance company. I had car insurance before I got married. When I got married, my husband got onto my policy. So why is he now the “stake holder” and I am just the hanger on? Just a lot annoyed by this. Anyway, tamping it down for the sake of my sanity. And they did make the check out to me–which since my name alone is on the car title was only right and proper–I’m just tired of being the “little woman”. Yeah, I don’t work outside the home–unless you count volunteer work, which is both necessary and doesn’t pay a salary. Doesn’t make me less a feminist.

  • Carstonio

    Doesn’t make me less a feminist.

    Why would it? I’ve long felt that feminism isn’t about the choices women make or should make, but about the freedom to make choices.

  • JustoneK

    The choices that are made and the choices that are allowed influence each other in a massive convoluted series of feedback loops.

  • Carstonio

    While I wouldn’t contest that, I’m not sure how that is relevant to my point. People who are hostile to gender equality have created a straw woman of feminism that’s hostile to marriage, motherhood and family. They believe in one set of shoulds for women, and wrongly perceive feminism as advocating a different set of shoulds.

  • Fusina

    Gloria Steinem. You remember the Fish without a Bicycle meme? Well, I got married, quit my job and had two kids, then was a stay at home mum. And I like it that way. I have hobbies that I do–embroidery and beadwork, both of which I have made a bit of money doing, but neither of which is a way to get rich-or even to pay rent and food and the other basics.

  • dpolicar

    The Fish without a Bicycle meme I remember is “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”… in other words, women don’t need men at all.

    It may be that this doesn’t describe you. For example, it may be that when you became a stay-at-home mother whose rent, food, and other expenses are paid for by your male spouse, that this was necessary, rather than a choice you made.

    For my own part, I would prefer a world where stay-at-home mothers have chosen to be stay-at-home mothers, and women whose expenses are paid for by their male spouses have chosen this arrangement, and so forth, and necessity doesn’t enter into it.

  • Fusina

    Oh, I chose to do what I did. I have quite enjoyed being an SAHM as they call us. I also enjoyed sending my kids to public school so that I had some time to myself. After discussion, we decided that since we had enough coming in on one salary, that we could afford to do this. Oh, my husband does not do anything to make me feel like I am a slacker. The sister I no longer speak to once asked how I could stand to stay home with the kids–that she would go crazy if she did that. It never really bothered me–oh, there were days when I thought I should just get on the bus to the funny farm, but by and large, it was a joy. I have worked jobs since I married and had kids, I helped out at a neighbor’s day care for a while, I have designed and written up directions for beaded jewelry, and made lots of same and sold both the directions and the jewelry, I’ve taught beading classes, and I’ve had a ton of fun just being with my kids. I taught them to cook and do laundry and wash dishes, to take car of their responsibilities, how to save and how to spend money, how to negotiate with your siblings and other people, lots of stuff. But sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have been different. My kids say no, so I am taking their word for it. Unfortunately, being a SAHM does not get you fully vested in Social Security–I would like to see that change. I mean, I worked damned hard.

  • dpolicar

    That’s great… I’m glad your life was driven in large part by choice rather than purely by necessity, and (like the majority of feminists I know) I want that to be equally true for everyone.

  • Lori

    There’s a difference between needing and wanting. There’s a difference between saying that a woman doesn’t need a man to survive and being hostile to marriage. Gloria Steinem was married. (It was quite a short marriage, but that’s because her husband died.)

  • Carstonio

    Steinem said “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” and that was wrongly thrown in her face when she got married. She never said that it’s wrong for a woman to want a man. Her point was that having a man shouldn’t be a requirement.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    But a fish has no use whatsoever for a bicycle, not merely a lack of need.

    I suspect it’s more an imperfect metaphor than anything more devastating.

  • 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.

  • Alix

    Well, except some of us have run into self-described feminists who advocate that, explicitly or implicitly. I’m round about thirty, and I’ve had both my peers and older women tell me to my face I’m “playing into the patriarchy” by staying at home. (The fact that I stay at home to support my mother never seems to register.)

    It’s not most feminists, not by all. But it’s a message I hear enough that I fight constantly with second-guessing myself over my social liberalism. “If I make this choice, am I a fraud?” That sort of thing.

    It is one of the more minor reasons I dip my toes into feminist communities, but can’t bring myself to identify as one.

  • Alix

    Also, it’s kind of amazing how scared posting that comment has made me. :/

    To clarify, this is what I hear a lot: “But whyyyyy didn’t you chose a career?” “You don’t have to stay at home, you know.” That sort of thing. All very condescending, very patronizing, with an implicit or sometimes even explicit demand that I justify my choices to the people talking to me.

    I’m sick of it. I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone, not harmless ones like whether I choose to stay home and take care of my mother, not personal ones like what my gender and sexual orientation are. And yet time and again, feminists (and others, but somehow it’s the feminists and liberals who hurt the most) want me to justify my identity to them … and the ones who demand justification never accept the justifications I have.

    I can’t fucking stand it.

    Going into a feminist space is like walking through a minefield that is disguised as a friend’s house.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    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.

  • Carstonio

    No question that there are some feminists out there who are just as judgmental about women’s choices as any patriarchs. At the risk of using a No True Scotsman argument, replacing one judgmentality with another undermines the point of feminism, which is legal and social equality for the genders.

  • Alix

    Oh, I agree, and to make things clear it’s also true that the most supportive people in my life almost universally ID as feminist, as well. And, well, the judgmental ones are undermining their argument.

    That doesn’t stop it hurting, though, and I guess I’m a little “once burned, twice shy” about the label. :/

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fusina

    I’m fifty. Feminists used to not accept women who were okay with being a wife and mother–to be a proper feminist you had to have a job…with a salary… I like being a stay at home Mum. I have enough hobbies for three people, and I enjoyed raising my kids. I hate working for other people–I am in the process of starting a jewelry selling business–it has been some seven years so far in the making, but I have figured out some things.

    I think part of it is that I was rarely treated as a responsible adult by the people in charge of stuff, starting with my parents. It has created a feedback loop–good call JustoneK–that causes me to feel like a non-person–a not important person. I hate VIP type things for this reason. As someone who is pretty much the anti-VIP, I have come to believe that either we all are important, or no one is.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) It’s hard to transition from a world where people aren’t allowed to do X and must do Y, directly to a world where people are free to do either X or Y as they wish. There’s frequently a stage in between where people who prefer to do Y and choose to do Y are chastised for it.

    Thus, you get a stage of feminism that chastises women for being stay-at-home moms, a stage of queer equality that chastises bisexuals for dating members of the opposite sex, etc.

    It’s a pity, but humans are like that. Often the best we can do is make that stage as brief as possible.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Also, the people who held those views never “were” the movements in any real sense — the fact that a person who identified as a feminist also held the view that stay-at-home moms were Auntie Toms no more made the beliefe that stay at home moms were bad “feminism” than the fact that some person who identifies as a feminist thinks Mint Chocolate Chip is the best ice cream flavor makes the supremacy of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream “feminism”.

    The fact that there’s an inclination to view the personal views of a person we identify as part of some group as being definitive of the group is our problem and not theirs, it’s How It Works.

  • dpolicar

    Not that I disagree, necessarily, but I don’t see how to adopt that model without rejecting the whole idea that any movement entails any position.

    I mean, OK, on that model what does feminism entail? Who says? Why are they representative?

    So, I dunno.

    Personally, I’m OK with taking a statistical approach over the community of individuals who in reasonably good faith consider themselves part of the movement and whom I don’t otherwise dismiss as outright delusional.

    And taking that approach I conclude that yes, the queer equality movement did to some extent insist that bisexuals should only date members of the opposite sex, and that it was to that extent wrong to do so, and the extent to which it did so declined over the years as dating members of the same sex became more acceptable in the mainstream community.

    And that yes, feminism did to some extent insist that women should enter the workplace rather than be homemakers, and that it was to that extent wrong to do so, and the extent to which it did so declined over the years as women entering the workplace became more acceptable in the mainstream community.

    Etc.

    Of course, if someone wants to use that to argue “see! feminism has to some extent no room for women who want to be homemakers! evil!!!!”… well, they’re arguing in bad faith, and I quickly stop caring what they have to say.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think you got to ask yourself, what is it about “One feminist claims that women who choose freely to be stay-at-home mothers are traitors to the cause. Another feminist does not” that makes you inclined to conclude “Therefore denigrating stay-at-home mothers is part of What Feminism Is About”, while “One feminist says that Mint Chocolate Chip is the One True Flavor for All Women. Another feminist does not.” doesn’t make you inclined to conclude “Therefore mint chocolate chip ice cream is part of what feminism is About.”

    And I think for a lot of people, the secret answer is “Because on some preconscious level, I started out afraid that feminism was going to take away my mommy, so I am already primed for that one.”

    (I think this is not unrelated to the terror/torture question: why am I willing to consider the hypothetical “But what if there’s a ticking time bomb and the only way to find it is to torture the suspect?” in a way I would not consider the hypothetical “But what if there’s a ticking time bomb and the only way to find it is to let him watch you have sex with your cat?”)

  • dpolicar

    Well, when I ask myself the question you quote, my answer is “Nothing whatsoever.”

    Of course, in my experience it’s neither true that only one person has experienced being shamed for her choice to stay home by self-identified feminists, nor that a significant number of self-identified feminists have expressed opinions about ice cream flavors. So the question you quote doesn’t really have much to do with my actual experience.

    But, regardless, maybe you’re right that it’s some unacknowledged anti-feminist bias that makes that seem plausible. That does happen, and the fact that it doesn’t seem that way to me is of course not proof that it’s false.

    Similarly, maybe the idea that the queer equality movement did to some extent insist that bisexuals should only date members of the opposite sex only seems plausible to me because of my unacknowledged anti-queer bias. That happens, too, and again the fact that it doesn’t seem that way to me (or my husband) isn’t proof that it’s false.

  • Alix

    Well, sure, but when you keep tripping over people who, say, question your existence and they call themselves feminists and couch their insults in feminist theories, you start to get a little gunshy.

  • MarkTemporis

    You didn’t want them as your friends anyway. Wear their scorn as a badge of honour.

  • 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.

  • Fusina

    It’s a pity, but humans are like that. Often the best we can do is make that stage as brief as possible.

    Amen to that. I have a daughter, and sometimes it seems like we are not only not advancing, we are retreating. I want her to live in a world where she can do or be whatever she wants.

  • Jim Roberts

    Most likely – although you’ll have to check the policy – because his insurance rate is higher than yours. At least, that’s why I became the primary stakeholder when my wife and I married.

  • Hilary

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

  • 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.

  • Jessica_R
  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    The judge’s name is David Byrn. David Byrn made a serious mistake….

    All due respect, Fred, but this is not correct. According to the article, the defendant filed a petition that didn’t meet the procedural requirements. This wasn’t a mistake on the judge’s part.

    And as to the substance of the critique, consider it from the other perspective. The Court—which includes its employees—are supposed to be impartial. When that impartiality is called into question, say by a court clerk giving legal advice to one of the parties, the system collapses.

    Which isn’t to say that the employee did something wrong from a moral perspective, but as with civil disobedience, your moral correctness for disobeying an unjust law doesn’t get you off the hook from punishment.

  • Lori

    You know Bob, this kind of procedural objection would be fine if there was some legal means for inmates without money to get help meeting the requirements. When there is not and the sole response of The Court to the fact that an innocent man may be in prison is “You failed to dot your i’s and cross your t’s in the manner prescribed by people whose chief goal was to keep the billable hours rolling in for their fellow lawyers, so too bad, so sad, sucks to be you” then frankly, decent people tend to think it may be time for the system to collapse.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    I understand your feeling. The solution to the problem is a robust system of public defenders.

    And it’s difficult to tell exactly what the problem with the defendant’s original submissions were (“the motion because it fell short of what was required under the statute Nelson had cited”), but the implication is that the defendant didn’t say why the court should give him relief.

    That’s more than a matter of “not dotting i’s.” We should want courts to make decisions based on evidence, not based on “oh, I guess this guy is probably right even though I can’t tell.” I certainly wouldn’t want a court giving the State that sort of treatment.

  • Lori

    Again, I think decent people would assume that the reason that the system should give this guy relief is that no DNA testing had been done and it could prove him innocent.

  • konrad_arflane

    Filling out a form incorrectly doesn’t mean you don’t have evidence. More to the point, I’ve seen other Internet Lawyers claim that helping people fill out paperwork correctly is something most court clerks do as a matter of course, and not something they are usually disciplined for.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    Again, the problem appears to have been more than just “filling out a form incorrectly.” (I’m not going to go out on a limb definitively, because the article doesn’t give enough detail to be certain.)

    It says he didn’t meet the requirements of the statute. The statute probably says you show A, B, C, and D, then you get a DNA test; the defendant probably submitted a motion that only showed A, B, and C. In such a case, the judge can’t just say, “Well, he probably meets D too, even though it’s not in his motion, so what the hell.”

    To put the shoe on the other foot, if the prosecutor has to show an accused murderer committed the act and intended to do so, we don’t want the judge to say, “I’m sure he probably did do it intentionally” if the prosecutor doesn’t show otherwise.

  • Lori

    It says he didn’t meet the requirements of the statute. The statute probably says you show A, B, C, and D, then you get a DNA test; the defendant probably submitted a motion that only showed A, B, and C. In such a case, the judge can’t just say, “Well, he probably meets D too, even though it’s not in his motion, so what the hell.”

    First of all, people should not have to jump through hoops to get DNA that could exonerate them (or definitively prove them guilty) tested.

    Second, if there is no system in place to help prisoners without money demonstrate that they meet the A,B,C & D requirements (that almost certainly shouldn’t exist in the first place) then judges should have the leway and the human decency to ask some questions, determine if the requirements have actually been met and then rule accordingly.

    No one expected the judge to say “Well, I assume this guy must be innocent so I’m going to let him out.” Some of us did expect him to set aside his nitpicker and act like a human being. Having failed to do that, we expected him to climb down off his giant ego and not punish a clerk for doing what he did not—act like a human being.

    To put the shoe on the other foot, if the prosecutor has to show an accused murderer committed the act and intended to do so, we don’t want
    the judge to say, “I’m sure he probably did do it intentionally” if the prosecutor doesn’t show otherwise.

    Um, no. Prosecutors are supposed to be held to a higher standard.

  • 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.”

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    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.

  • P J Evans

    It was because she told him that there was a precedent and where he could find the information he needed.
    Which, according to the judge, counted somehow as ‘practicing law without a license’, never mind that the information is supposed to be available.

  • 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.

  • borodino21

    It possible that this varies from state to state, but the lawyers’ guilds (aka bar associations) generally know what they’re doing when the put the law together. What Snyder did probably wasn’t just breaking “court rules”; she likely broke Missouri state law.

    I’m a court clerk in Michigan, and I would likewise get in trouble for doing what Snyder did. Court clerks cannot provide legal advice and we can’t help people fill out forms. We must remain impartial towards all parties in a legal proceeding.

    What Snyder did was straight-forwardly unethical, and as a veteran clerk, she would have known it. (Note the difference between unethical and immoral.) Jackson County is Kansas City, which I’m sure is a large enough jurisdiction to have some form of legal aid office. I work in a much smaller jurisdiction, and we do. Ethically (and again, I’m not speaking to morals), she should have directed them to whatever legal help was available.

    “Legal advice” is quite literally the hardest part of my job. Our court administrator constantly pushes good customer service, which my fellow clerks and I try to provide. At the same time, state law severally limits what forms of help we can give people. It can be very frustrating for both us and our customers, but there is actually a good principle behind it: the impartiality of the court system.

    (On a more cynical note, see also Tony Jones’ “court system not justice system” post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/07/15/its-a-court-system-not-a-justice-system/)

  • MarkTemporis

    “but the lawyers’ guilds (aka bar associations) generally know what they’re doing when the put the law together. ”

    Whatever makes them the most money, I’ll wager.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    This from a guy who once said, “why should you go to jail for a crime somebody else noticed?

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    A Loblaw law bomb.

  • 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.

  • Donalbain

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

  • 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.

  • Madhabmatics

    yo would you agree with the statement:

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

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    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.

  • konrad_arflane

    I find it interesting that every part of the “Harlot v. Godly Woman” cartoon has a reference to scripture (or two) *except* the bit where the Godly Woman has “a heart that loves and submits to Jesus”. Apparently that part’s not in the Bible?

  • 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.

  • 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.


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