- The proper response to that new Tennessee law banning offensive bumper stickers. I can’t link to it directly, but yes, you can get the verbiage as a bumper sticker.
- Ten years after Portugal decriminalized all drugs, the number of addicts has dropped by half.
- Cisco to help China spy on its citizens.
- Woman escorted off US Airways flight after snapping photo of a rude flight attendant.
- Gene Healy on the perp walk.
- Federal wiretaps have nearly doubled under Obama.
- A proper use of a SWAT team.
- Two fun clips (here and here) from Penn & Teller’s new U.K. show.
Category: There Oughtta Be a Law
- Tennessee legislature takes on the dangerous threat posed by raunchy bumper stickers.
LAPDL.A. Sheriff’s Department to stop suspending cops who “have used excessive force, driven while intoxicated, falsely imprisoned people or committed other serious misconduct.” Instead, they’ll now get a stern warning.
- Speaking of L.A., the city will settle with the family of a teen shot and killed by an LAPD cop after video evidence shows the cop lied about the incident. It’s the second time video has contradicted his testimony. Yes, the cop is still on active duty.
- Really fantastic ProPublica investigation into how the criminal justice system handles the deaths of children. Answer: Not very well.
- Mapp v. Ohio turns 50. I’d put more credibility in conservative objections to the Exclusionary Rule if they offered plausible alternative policies to prevent law enforcement from violating the Fourth Amendment.
- Connecticut decriminalizes marijuana.
- Texas police conduct search based on a tip from a psychic.
- Shame on you, Apple.
- The word total means they’re really, really serious this time.
- Tennessee posts a strong entry in the “most moronic law about the Internet” competition.
- Good op-ed by Cato’s David Rittgers on police militarization.
- Fun collection of on-set movie photos.
- This is a pretty remarkable decision. More, please.
- Gene Healy wraps up a three part-series on Obama’s imperial presidency.
- The latest front in the occupational licensing battle: clowns.
- Maryland transit cops illegally arrest photographer, cite PATRIOT Act.
- Rand Paul: You really need to walk this back.
- Up to 6,000 felony cases under review in San Francisco after cops caught on tape taking items from a hotel room that they never reported.
Linkable stuff that piled up while I was away . . .
- This is an unfortunate death, but it’s absurd that prosecutors would even consider charging the woman once they knew the story. And of course we can’t have an unfortunate death without the suggestion of an absurd, ill-considered law to “ensure this never happens again.”*
- Obama graciously grants eight lame pardons.
- I don’t find the Westboro Baptist Church worthy of much attention, mostly because that’s what they want. But this is pretty great.
- Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes speaks out on the treatment of Bradley Manning.
- DOJ announces says it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against the police officers who severely beat Pittsburgh music student Jordan Miles after mistaking a Mountain Dew bottle in his pocket for a gun. I wrote about the case here.
- The BBC visits a Miami jail and finds some pretty horrendous conditions.
- Utah makes it illegal to act sexy.
- Sounds like a plan.
- Very suspicious police shooting death after a traffic stop in Cobb County, Georgia.
* I overlooked the portion of the article alleging that those attending the party delayed seeking medical attention in order to usher out underage drinkers and settle on a story. If those are allegations are true, then some criminal charges are appropriate. I was referring specifically to the punch that instigated it all.
Teenaged Boy Arrested for Distributing Girl-Ranking List; Is Being a Colossal Jerk Actually Illegal?Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in Oak Park, IL this week. His alleged crime? Creating and distributing a raunchy, offensive “girl ranking” list, otherwise known as “blatant jackassery.” This story made the rounds earlier this year, and his classmates say he’s previously been expelled for a similar stunt, but now the police are getting involved.
Jackassery aside, the kid, who has not been identified because he’s a minor (he should count his lucky stars), allegedly created and distributed a list ranking 50 high school girls by facial appearance, various body parts, and supposed sexual prowess. The list also reportedly included racial and ethnic slurs, and undoubtedly clever titles for each girl like “the Fallen Angel” or “the Hangover.” Witnesses claim that, after handing out paper copies of his list, he gave an impromptu speech in front of a group of boys, crowing “women are the future, unless we stop them.” In an utterly unsurprising culmination of events, the list ended up on Facebook (sounds familiar, right?). Oak Park police have charged him with disorderly conduct and have passed his case onto juvenile court.
Obviously, this boy is a repugnant little SOB who deserves to have the sense knocked out of him on a daily basis in prison or wherever his sorry ass lands in life. But criminal charges? Distributing fliers in school I suppose could be considered misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but I assume a good attorney could have this charge thrown out in court. Don’t the defamed students have recourse through a civil suit? Are the police just using disorderly conduct as a bludgeon towards a kid who said something unpopular? What free speech issues does this raise?
It sounds to me like this guy isn’t the brightest crayon in the box. He may be a plucky, audacious punk now, but a bright future of meth addiction and child support payments likely awaits him. If I were one of these girls, I’d be very tempted to “leak” the guy’s name and photo to Gawker, and let the internet’s collective snark decide his ranking. Then I’d wish him luck in ever again finding a women who’d be willing to touch him.
Addendum: Let’s just get the inevitable comparisons to Karen Owen and her Duke University F-list out of the way now: She was a jerk, too, and anyone who Googles her name now knows it.
Update (5/10/11): Apparently, I dropped the ball, neglected to do the legwork, failed to RTFM on this story. This story was passed along to me by a friend late yesterday afternoon, and in my hurry to get a post up and get out of the office, I didn’t notice that the article was 3 years old. The friend who sent it along pulled the link from a post at BoingBoing, which has also been removed as of this writing. A thousand apologies for this oversight. #LessonLearned
Readers in Maine, look out: peering at a child could land you on the wrong side of a anti-child predator law. Rep. Dawn Hill is championing a bill that would make “visual sexual aggression” (whatever the hell that means) an offense for viewing children in a public place.
The bill was prompted by the admittedly-creepy story of a guy watching children enter and exit a public restroom.
Her involvement started when Ogunquit Police Lt. David Alexander was called to a local beach to deal with a man who appeared to be observing children entering the community bathrooms. Because the state statute prevents arrests for visual sexual aggression of a child in a public place, Alexander said he and his fellow officer could only ask the man to move along.
“There was no violation of law that we could enforce. There was nothing we could charge him with,” Alexander said.
He attended a talk with Hill a week later and brought the case to her attention. Hill pledged to do what she could, Alexander said, and the result was a change through the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the House, which made the law applicable in both private and public places.
Hill said she believes the move was necessary to correct what she called a “loophole” in the state’s criminal law statutes.
Is visual sexual aggression really a thing? Like, a thing that police can arrest you for? How do they define it? Is it a gaze lasting more than 3.2 seconds? Or is it one of those “you know it when you see it” kind of laws that’s left entirely up to the officers to define and enforce?
Listen: being a creeper is not illegal as long as you aren’t actually harming anyone. I don’t like what may be playing out in that guy’s head, and if he ever made even the slightest gesture that indicated harm to a child or anyone else, I’d be the first person to punch him in the windpipe (figuratively speaking). Protecting children from actual harm should be the police’s job, not harassing Boo Radley because he makes the locals uncomfortable. I get that it sucks when the presence of creepers makes going to the beach or the pool less fun. But the answer to dealing with the few creeps out there is not to pass another vague law that could apply to anyone and for which the definition is determined by the arresting officer. This could easily turn into a law against irritating a cop while in close proximity to a public restroom.
Two men were attacked in a bar for flashing signs. Not gang signs. Sign language, according to the AP: “Two hearing-impaired South Florida men were stabbed at a bar when their sign language was mistaken for gang signs.” Man… I didn’t stab them till after I told them to stop. What?! I did. They wouldn’t listen.
There should be an award for such criminal stupidity. Not a standard Darwin Award, but something for idiots who demonstrate not only that they can hate and hurt, but even, by their own demented standards, hate the wrong stranger.
Reminds me of an old joke (or is it a movie line?) my dad liked to tell in which a Jew and a non-Jew are being taken away on the train to Auschwitz. The Jew says, “What a tragedy.” The goy replies, “For you it’s a tragedy. For me it’s a mistake!”
[-- Peter Moskos]
- Alternet publishes more conspiracy-mongering TSA nonsense from Mark Ames and Yahsa Levine. Remember folks, it’s not what you actually believe that’s important, it’s that you’re always on the opposite side of the bad guys.
- Cops raid wrong house on a prostitution warrant.
- Police union files grievance because police chief made a drug arrest. Apparently, the chief wasn’t allowed to make arrests under the collective bargaining agreement.
- Great moments in intellectual property numbskullery: here and here. (Links via Scott Greenfield.)
- The ACLU and free speech.
- “Lie back and think of England.”
- Dumb proposed law of the week.
- Here’s a bit more on the Florida judge who was confronted by cops who had gone to the wrong house.
- Anti-pot politician busted with pot.
- Dumb PC controversy of the week.
- The National Jazz Museum in Harlem obtains a world-class, never before heard collection of great recordings from jazz’s golden age. But thanks to copyright law, you probably won’t get to listen to any of it.
- While we’re at it, dumb “There Oughtta Be a Law” proposal of the week.
- Sweet story about “Patrick” the miracle pit bull from Newark.
- Exploring Argentina’s secret death camps.
- This list made me laugh. RE: #17, I’ve never had cornbread that good. But spoon bread? Definitely.
- What your phone knows about you.
- And now: a Homeland Security reality show.
The Village Voice posts a devastating debunking of a widely-cited report claiming that sites like Backpage.com are facilitating a spike in the sex trafficking of underage girls.
“An independent tracking study released today by the Women’s Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states,” Richardson claimed. “Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase.”
In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson’s disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women’s Funding Network.
None of the media that published Richardson’s astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It’s junk science.
After all, the numbers are all guesses.
The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. There is no science.
The group based its estimates on guesses of the ages of women depicted in escort service ads on sites like Craigslist and Backpage.com. (Backpage is owned by Village Voice media, which has resisted pressure to shut down its adult services section). And that’s just how they got the raw numbers. They then magnified the error by applying those numbers in all sorts of misleading and statistically dubious ways. There wasn’t an academic or statistician among the group that authored the study. This was PR.
Nevertheless, the “study” spawned hysterical media reports, outrage from indignant attorneys general, and sweet government grants for groups like the Women’s Funding Network. Most astonishing is this admission from one peddler of sex panic:
“We pitch it the way we think you’re going to read it and pick up on it,” says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. “If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I’ve tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, ‘They won’t read that much.’”
That about says it all.
- Elderly NYC woman gets a $100 ticket for putting a newspaper in a public trash can.
- Amtrak police chief furious at TSA for train station searches.
- NY Times editorial board ignores its own reporting in playing down the effects of the new CPSIA regulations.
- Florida state senator want to make it a felony to . . . photograph farms.
- PR service hiring actors to call in to right-wing radio talk shows.
- Supreme Court bars a broad exemption government agencies have been using to deny FOIA requests.
- Interesting old Joan Didion essay on the history of HOV lanes.
- More evidence that lack of a sense of humor appears to be a requirement to become a public school administrator.
- He’s still got it.
- This for the most part sums up my views of Reagan. Talked a good talk, at least in some areas. But time hasn’t been kind to his legacy for liberty.
- Moving. And especially impressive poise from a 19-year-old.
- Bill O’Reilly vs. Science. Round two.
- Sounds about right.
- This is actually the first I’ve heard of this story.
- Government accountability.
- Malawi bans flatulence.
- The latest candidate for the “no laws named after dead people” rule.
- Another reason to love Calvin Coolidge.
- Nice work if you can get it.
- So Mick Jagger was right.
- This is a good point: Sinead O’Connor was right, too.
- Supreme Court reinstates damages for woman who was assaulted by prison guard, then put in solitary after she tried to report it.
- My friend Pete Eyre gets arrested in New Hampshire for wearing a hat.
- Back when I wrote about the obesity debate for Cato, I remember when public schools telling parents their kids are too fat was the sort of thing people on my side of the debate warned about, and people on the other side of the debate said was ridiculous hyperbole. Also, the kid’s BMI is 19.4, and the school is sending home fat warnings? Why not just go ahead and build a vomitorium next to the girls bathroom?
- NGO fight! World Health Organization criticizing Amnesty International for criticizing World Health Organization assessment lauding North Korea’s health care system. Shouldn’t starving a million of your own people to death somehow factor into any assessment of the sort of health care you’re providing?
- Federal judge strikes down Stolen Valor Act, which makes faking military awards and experience a federal crime. I’ve written about this before. The proper remedy here is shame, not prison time.
- Indiana may soon add a $100 doctor’s visit to the cost of treating a cold. Because of the meth.
- More of this, please. Federal judge not only orders sheriff to issue gun permit sheriff improperly denied, but also orders sheriff to take college-level course on the First Amendment.
Crunching on an article today, but I saved these open browser tabs just for you…
- New York lawmakers want to ban homeowners from renting out rooms to travelers. God forbid we have any voluntary exchange of goods and services go on without the watchful eye of government knowing about it.
- Sweet workaround for left-handed people who just bought the new iPhone. Retro, too!
- The dumbest op-ed you’ll read today. Seriously, guys. The Cuban government is about to fall! Just a couple more years of sanctions!
- Almost enough to make me want to turn in my humanity membership card. What pointless cruelty.
- An agnostic’s manifesto. This is about where I’d put myself, too.
- This is just wrong. And this is even wronger.
This article from the animal rights section of the Change.org ring of websites has been making the rounds on dog-related blogs and Twitter feeds. Arguing that many dogs are mistaken for pit bulls in jurisdictions that have banned the much-maligned “breed,” the author calls for state officials to DNA test dogs before euthanizing them.
The argument is that city officials shouldn’t be able to euthanize a dog simply because it “looks like a pit bull,” whatever that means. But the real aim is to undermine breed-specific legislation altogether by imposing what would sound to most like a common-sense requirement that most cities can’t afford to follow.
It’s a cute idea, and I support the ultimate goal, but the scheme requires too much concession to the misguided thinking behind put bull prohibitions. I’ve written about breed-specific bans before, so I’ll save some time with a cut-and-paste:
Bad owners create bad dogs, regardless of the dog’s lineage. Bans on pit bulls don’t prevent dog fighting, nor do they prevent people from raising vicious dogs. They just ensure that dogs fitting the pit bull description will be vicious, because the well-bred lines will be discontinued and good owners will stop raising them. Meanwhile, people who raise dogs for fighting will simply move on to another breed.
Moreover, the term pit bull isn’t really a breed at all. It’s a generic term that can and has been applied to just about any dog with bulldog and/or terrier traits (take the pit bull test here). The American Kennel Club-recognized breed that’s generally associated with the term is the American Staffordshire Terrier. And the vast, vast majority of staffies are harmless (they’re actually considered a child-friendly breed).
In fact, most fighting dogs commonly called pit bulls aren’t bloodlined staffies. Fighting dogs are bred for attributes conducive to fighting, not for pedigree.
Better to impose strict liability on dog owners for any damage their pets do to others or their property.
In a unified display of bipartisan dimwittery, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are joining together to ban prepaid cell phones. Because an inept terrorist once used one in a failed plot.
If only we could get a terrorist to employ a reactionary, grandstanding politician in some future plot. Maybe Congress would finally ban those, too. Or at least no longer allow them on airplanes.
Because you didn’t get your “Morning Links” today, and because I have browser tabs that need closing . . .
• Angry moms want to ban ice cream trucks from playgrounds.
• U.S. life expectancy hits all-time high, deaths from cancer, heart disease, HIV all down. You’d never know it from the health care debate. Or the obesity debate. I opine on our world life expectancy ranking here.
• The blog Classically Liberal has more difficult details on the Bernard Baran case I wrote about earlier this week, as well as some general observations on the spate of child care sex abuse cases from the 1980s.
• MSNBC shows tight shot of Town Hall protester packing heat, suggests racism against Obama might why people are carrying guns to these events. Problem is, they needed the tight shot, because the guy with the gun was black.
• Declan McCullagh is a heading up a new civil liberties section with the CBS News website. We need more of this.
• Giant robot cage fish farms may soon roam the seas.