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

    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.

  • JustoneK

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • Lori

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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • Nathaniel

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

  • 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.

  • 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.


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


    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.

  • 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…

  • J_Enigma32

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

  • 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…

  • Nathaniel

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

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Abby Normal

    Was Fred the one that wrote about Fox Geezer Syndrome?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. :/

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • reynard61
  • 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.

  • 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?”)

  • 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/)

  • 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.

  • MissMikey

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

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • MarkTemporis

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

  • 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.