Archives For: Premium

Rape By Fraud?

Nov 26 2014 @ 5:56pm

New Jersey state Assemblyman Troy Singleton is proposing a law that would make it illegal to lie to a prospective sexual partner in order to get them in bed. The bill – which is unlikely to pass – defines “sexual assault by fraud” as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not”. Elizabeth Nolan Brown loses it:

No no no just no: we do not need a legal remedy for people having bad judgement. Is it a shame that some people misrepresent themselves to get people to sleep with them? Sure. But not every aspect of social and sexual relationships can be a matter for government concern. What’s next, making it a misdemeanor to use outdated photos on your Tinder profile? Criminalizing push-up bras? Throwing people in jail who say they’ll call the next day but don’t?

The situation Singleton says spawned his proposal involves Mischele Lewis, a woman defrauded by a man claiming to be a British military official. The pair had sex and Lewis also paid the man, William Allen Jordan, $5,000 for an alleged security clearance. When Jordan turned out to be a scam artist, Lewis pressed charges and he wound up pleading guilty to defrauding her. Justice served, right? Not in the warped worldview of New Jersey prosecutors, who apparently can’t stand the idea that some areas of interpersonal dynamics aren’t within their prosecutorial reach.

This is too much even for Amanda Marcotte:

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Maxing Out Our Airports

Nov 26 2014 @ 5:19pm

Traveling for thanksgiving

Adam Minter predicts Thanksgiving-type travel days year-round in coming years:

[E]ven with billions worth of improvements in the pipeline, the picture for travelers remains bleak. Of the 30 busiest U.S. airports (accounting for 70 percent of total U.S. passenger flow), 13 already feel like the day before Thanksgiving one day a week on average. Three airports — Midway, Las Vegas McCarran, and Orlando International — suffer those levels of congestion twice a week. Worse yet, the capacity improvements that are currently slated won’t help much. Within six years, the study notes, 27 of the 30 busiest airports will be Thanksgiving-busy at least once a week.

That this state of affairs is unnatural should be apparent to anyone who flies outside the U.S. even occasionally. In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked U.S. aviation infrastructure 32nd in the world — behind Malaysia (an assessment that, in my personal experience, remains accurate). This is both embarrassing and somewhat predictable. Developing countries such as Malaysia strongly subsidize airports and airlines, viewing them as important marketing opportunities and first-impression makers.

Clive Irving hates how airlines jam so many seats into coach:

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The Damage Control Is Done, Ctd

Nov 26 2014 @ 4:00pm

A few readers offer their perspective on the awful situation at the University of Virginia:

I’m a former federal prosecutor and an alum of UVA. I think those who advocate for the criminal justice system being used instead of having colleges investigate sexual assault are asking too much of the criminal justice system. While the gang rape at the center of the Rolling Stone article would be a good case for full prosecutorial investigation, most sexual assaults occurring on most campuses would not. Most “date rape” scenarios would never be prosecuted. Without third-party witnesses or evidence of a “roofie” in the girl’s blood, prosecutors would generally not find enough evidence to indict. The beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard is simply too high in those kinds of cases, and if we left them for the criminal justice system to handle, it would likely end up being an excuse for inaction.

Another goes out on a shaky limb:

As a 2005 UVA grad and fraternity member, I am having a lot of trouble formulating any sort of reaction to this situation without coming off as some sort of rape-supporting monster, but I am very uncomfortable with the rush to judgement and the urge to punish the “bad guys” as quickly and severely as possible.

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How Misconceptions Can Kill

Nov 26 2014 @ 3:03pm

Adam Waytz connects his research on the superhumanization of blacks to the Michael Brown shooting:

Wilson seemed to justify his infliction of lethal pain on to Brown precisely because he perceived Brown to be a superhuman threat. It is easy to feel good or indifferent about superhumanization because it seems to “elevate” black people, celebrating their strength and resilience. Some might even argue that superhumanization of black people is our earnest attempt to counteract sub-humanization of black people. But as the case of Michael Brown demonstrates there is a thin line between superhumanization and subhumanization. Both deny black people’s humanity. Therein lies the problem.

A Dish reader made a similar point yesterday. Bouie is troubled by how Darren Wilson described his encounter with Michael Brown:

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Michéle Flournoy, the leading candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, has bowed out:

Flournoy, the co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a think tank that has served as a farm league for future Obama administration officials, would have been the first female secretary of defense had she risen to the position. The news of her decision to withdraw was first reported by Foreign Policy. But in a letter Tuesday to members of the CNAS board of directors, Flournoy said she would remain in her post at the think tank and asked Obama to take her out of consideration to be the next secretary of defense. Flournoy told the board members that family health considerations helped drive her decision and the fact that two of her children are leaving for college in the next two years.

“Last night I spoke with President Obama and removed myself from consideration due to family concerns,” reads the letter, first obtained by FP. “After much agonizing, we decided that now was not the right time for me to reenter government.”

Senator Jack Reed, another contender, has also said he has no interest in a new job. Austin Wright and Michael Hirsh aren’t surprised that nobody seems to want to run the Pentagon these days:

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Illiberalism In The Art World, Ctd

Nov 26 2014 @ 2:14pm

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A reader senses a double standard:

Reading your excerpt of Jerry Saltz’s piece and reflecting on your recent writing on the stifling of debate with cries of racism, sexism, etc., I’m struck by a thought. You say there’s a certain amount of homophobia gays must learn to tolerate because the alternative (i.e., silencing those with politically incorrect views) is even worse. Ditto sexism, ditto (presumably) racism and anti-semitism. Homos, blacks, Jews, women: Toughen up. People will say things that hurt your feelings, but too bad. The world cares not. Free speech is more important than your bruised emotions.

And yet. Saltz seems quite to have had his feelings hurt by being called a racist, a perv, a hater of women. Should he not toughen up as well? It would appear to me there is a quite a debate going on – about whether Saltz’s views are out of bounds. Is that not a debate worth having as well? And if it is, then Saltz and his hurt feelings can get in line with all the gays who are tired of homophobia, all the black folks who are tired of racism, all the women who are tired of catcalling, and just realize that the debate is more important.

Yes, I think the targets of the left’s various public shamings – shamings now put on rhetorical growth hormone by the Twitter and Facebook mobs – should take it on the chin, unless their very existence as a writer is under threat. I’m fine with my being hauled out and shamed, even by Dish readers – but that’s because I have real freedom here to write what I think and take whatever lumps come my way. That’s the beauty of an independent site and the free speech zone here at the Dish. I am not directly threatened by these new puritans in the discourse. But so many others are – in academia, especially, but also in journalism. And when the point of the shaming is to shut down a person’s job or livelihood, to stigmatize so as to punish views that are violations of left-wing church doctrine, then I think the victims have every right to point out the threat to free discourse. That’s different than whining about having one’s feelings hurt.

Because the real troubling part of Saltz’s piece was the pressure to have him fired:

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Reflecting on the Michael Brown case, Friedersdorf insists that, “when it comes to the problem of police officers using excessive force, including lethal force, against people they encounter, there are scores of cases that better illustrate the problem”:

[E]ven protesters who want to highlight the specific problem of white police officers shooting black men—even those who want to do so by saying “don’t shoot” while raising their arms in the air—needn’t rely on a murky incident with conflicting eyewitness testimony where there’s a chance that the unknowable truth would exonerate the officer. Instead, they can show skeptics this video from Columbia, South Carolina:

When I want to persuade a skeptic that police can misbehave so badly that it’s hard to believe until one sees it, that is the incident I thrust before them. Given an hour of their time, I could fill it with other incidents on YouTube, almost all of which were totally ignored by most of the commentators who are now flaunting their outrage at anyone evaluating evidence in Ferguson differently than they do. This alienates potential allies and converts on the larger issue of police abuse … for what?

Some of the reforms Conor advocates for:

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What To Make Of Ferguson? Ctd

Nov 26 2014 @ 12:44pm

Some remaining thoughts from readers regarding the grand jury decision and aftermath:

Your correspondent compared Ferguson to Benghazi:

There’s a narrative of racist-white-cop-kills-harmless-black-kid, and no matter what uncomfortable fact intrudes, like that so many “witnesses” admitted they didn’t actually see what they told the media they saw, the narrative must go on. Because racism.

You know, s/he’s not entirely wrong. But even if Micheal Brown had been holding an AR-15 in each hand when he was shot, everything that we’ve been talking about in the aftermath of his death about the systemic corruption, violence, impunity – and yes, institutional racism – of policing and incarceration in this country would still be true. The ugly, simple truth is that very few people will rally against injustice in the abstract, regardless of the scale. We just aren’t wired for that kind of empathy. (Stalin was right about tragedies and statistics.) So is it a mistake to try to leverage a particular case to bring the bigger issues to the fore? It certainly is risky, and I think we are seeing why right now. But if there is a better way to go about it, I don’t think we’ve seen it yet.

Another would seem to concur:

I agree with your take on Ferguson. If your objective is to make an example of how police Protesters block interstate lanes in Oakland after Ferguson Grand Jury decisioninteract with young men of color, this isn’t a perfect case. It’s just attracted the most attention. And the response is making it worse. But this is where we are, with the incompetence and violence and rioting and everything. And every day that sees a riot, we get a little bit closer to forgetting Michael Brown.

Taking in the non-indictment and aftermath of the Brown tragedy, I think I understand a little bit more about your perspective on Matthew Shepard. One thing you can’t say about Shepard is that his life was wasted. He just wasn’t the person who took advantage of it. His parents and advocates of gay rights and hate crimes legislation – good or bad – made sure his name would ring out after he died. They took an imperfect case and made it count.

I want to remember Michael Brown as the namesake of laws around the country that require all police to wear body cameras. “Michael’s Law” has a nice ring to it.

Another goes after his fellow left-liberals:

When I listen to the commentary on the left, I can’t help hearing benevolent racism.

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What Is A Grand Jury For?

Nov 26 2014 @ 11:51am

Toobin blasts McCulloch for misusing the grand jury:

[T]he goal of criminal law is to be fair—to treat similarly situated people similarly—as well as to reach just results. McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion. Some might suggest that all cases should be treated the way McCulloch handled Wilson before the grand jury, with a full-fledged mini-trial of all the incriminating and exculpatory evidence presented at this preliminary stage. Of course, the cost of such an approach, in both time and money, would be prohibitive, and there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolutions of most cases would be any more just. In any event, reserving this kind of special treatment for white police officers charged with killing black suspects cannot be an appropriate resolution.

Noam Scheiber is on the same page:

Politically, I understand the advantage of this for McCulloch. He gets to wrap his preference for not indicting Wilson in the legitimacy of a trial-like process, whereas simply declining to indict Wilson without the support of a grand jury would have left him badly exposed. It would have triggered an enormous political backlash, rather than the relatively minor uproar we witnessed Monday night. But as a basic matter of justice, it’s outrageous. As I noted yesterday, the only way to earn the legitimacy of a trial is to actually have a trial, in which both positions are given a fair hearing.

Allahpundit asks, “What should McCulloch have done instead?”:

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Marijuana On Trial

Nov 26 2014 @ 10:56am

Sullum doesn’t buy the argument that drugs led to Michael Brown’s death:

One challenge for anyone pushing a pharmacological explanation of Brown’s alleged behavior: Despite speculation that he was on PCP, marijuana is the only drug that was detected in his blood. Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, the assistant county prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury, did what they could with pot, raising the possibility that Brown had smoked enough to experience “paranoia,” “hallucinations,” and maybe even a “psychotic episode.” They planted that idea in jurors’ heads mainly by presenting a toxicologist’s misleading testimony about the amount of THC in Brown’s blood and the possible effects of large doses.

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