Category Archives: Hypocrisy

‘Imbeciles’ and ‘Illiberal Reformers’ – An NYT Book Review Mini-Rant

‘Imbeciles’ and ‘Illiberal Reformers’ – The New York Times Book Review

Trigger warning:  The review contains a discussion of “eu”genics.  May lead to depression at the unlikely prospect that the American elite will ever be anything but entitled assholes.  May also cause excessive swearing and the urge to vomit.

The book under review examines the people and law behind the notorious Buck v. Bell decision, in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for an 8-1 majority, endorsed the practice of sterilizing people perceived to be of lower intelligence — called, in the law and in his decision, “imbeciles.”

The tone of this review is that not only is forced sterilization wrong but that it is somehow shocking to find support for it amongst the progressive elite of the turn of the 20th Century.

“Imbeciles” examines one of the darkest chapters of progressive reform, and “Illiberal Reformers” looks at the perils of intellectual arrogance in dealing with explosive social issues.

The review concludes in the future warning tense:

Buck v. Bell “has never been overturned.” In a world where the Human Genome Project is currently mapping heredity at breakneck speed, that fact alone should send shivers down the spine.

No, dear readers, the intellectual arrogance that puts people’s life at risk based on their cognitive and physical abilities does not live in a dystopian future of genomic discrimination.  It has tenure and a chair with a name at Princeton — endorsing the murder of infants with disabilities — and is currently at work in many state legislatures around the country, trying to pave an easy path to physician-assisted suicide for people with disabilities.

Image: Cartoon showing woman in a wheelchair looking at two entrances to a building: on the left, a door labeled "Suicide Prevention Program" that is up a set of steps; on the right a door labeled "assisted suicide" which is up a ramp with the international symbol of accessibility.

Cartoon credit:  Amy Hasbrouk, Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet.

Why is it so easy to see now that Buck v. Bell was wrong and evil, but not to come to the same conclusion about Peter Singer and the urge to make suicide easier for people with disabilities?

 

 

Imagine for a moment . . .

. . . that CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) published a photo of Donald Trump with a scattering of bullets next to his head.  How about a Black Lives Matter tweet with photos of police and bullets?  Heads would explode.  Pundits would rant.  Investigations would be launched.  Conservatives would be outraged.

But this?  It’s apparently acceptable for a leading conservative cause to use this image:

Image: copy of tweet from NRA with showing photos of a black woman in a red-checked suit jacket and a white woman in a green turtle-neck and black suit jacket with four bullets arrayed next to the photos.  Text reads:  "sounding off on one of the most ridiculous anti-gun schemes introduced in some time.

Why isn’t this terrorism?  If terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims,” this certainly qualifies.  Violent intimidation in pursuit of political aims.  The only silver lining is that they are losing and this shows their desperation.

Texas Governor Orders Founding Fathers/Constitution Display Removed from State Capitol (but the Nativity Can Stay)

The governor of Texas removed an approved display involving the Statue of Liberty because . . . Texas has a budget surplus that it would like to redistribute to ACLU lawyers?

Source: Texas Governor Orders Atheist Display Removed from State Capitol (but the Nativity Can Stay)

BTW the headline originally read, “Texas Governor Orders Atheist Display Removed  . . .” but there’s nothing anti-God there, just pro-America and pro-Constitution.  Honestly, the full-support-for-civil-liberties-lawyers theory is the only one that really fits.

Things that are like Kim Davis

things that are like kim davis

{Image: the image is a Word table that can be viewed at this link.}

Things that are not like Kim Davis:

A person being drafted involuntarily into the military asserting conscientious objections to serving in the military.

The difference: the word “involuntarily.” Davis’s situation is like a pacifist enlisting in the all-volunteer army and then asserting conscientious objections to serving in the military.

It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a), which is defined as

all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.

42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e(j) (emphasis added). So if you’re a county clerk and you want to wear a yarmulke or headscarf to work, you can because it will not affect the conduct of the employer’s business. If you are a pharmacist, the whole point of the employer’s business is to sell medicine, so you cannot require your employer to accommodate your Christian Scientist beliefs by removing one of your primary job duties.

Kim Davis is not a conscientious objector; she’s a person refusing to do her job or possibly a person who has the wrong job.

Update:  Eric commented

One difference: when Kim Davis took her job, issuing gay marriage licenses was NOT part of her job.

My easy and, I think, correct response was that issuing marriage licenses was part of the job.  That should be the end of the discussion.  But it made me think:  how would I handle Kim Davis’s case if it were a real case — as opposed to a publicity stunt — and she came to me for legal advice?  Distasteful as I find her religious views, I would advocate a role for her that did not require her to personally issue marriage licenses to people she did not approve of.*  There appear to be a number of employees in the clerk’s office willing to issue all legal licenses; if the office could permit her to refuse to issue such licenses “without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business,” I think that would be permitted.  The distinction is like a Wal-Mart employee who won’t sell guns — which should be permitted as it’s an enormous store with plenty of other tasks — and a gun store employee who won’t sell guns — which will cause undue hardship as the employer would be paying the employee to do nothing.

The problem with this analysis for Davis is that she apparently instructed the rest of her staff not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, which did cause hardship in that the entire office ceased to be able to do one of the things it is tasked with doing.

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*The test for religious accommodation requires sincerity but sadly not consistency, so she can decide to disapprove of gay and lesbian couples, while continuing to issue licenses to people of other (and different) faiths, divorce(e)s, child abusers, tax cheats, lusters, gluttons, sloths, greedy bastards and other sinners, deadly or otherwise.

“Lost Opportunity”

Chief justice decries decision that does not ‘celebrate Constitution’ | TheHill.

“Indeed, however heartened proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause,” Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent.

Wow – just think of all the opportunities we fans of civil rights have lost!

  • Lawrence v. Texas denied gays and lesbians the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens that it was OK for them to have sex in the privacy of their own homes.  Dang – that would have been both fun and enlightening!
  • Romer v. Evans denied gays and lesbians the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens to let them have the right to persuade their fellow citizens.
  • Brown v. Board denied African-Americans the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizen that they were fellow citizens.
  • Olmstead v. L.C. denied people with disabilities the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens that they should be allowed to live in the community.
  • City of Cleburne denied people with disabilities the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens that the Constitution protected them in the first place.
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan denied the press the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens of their freedom of speech.
  • Estelle v. Gamble denied prisoners the opportunity to persuade their fellow citizens that they were entitled to some small modicum of medical care.

And so on.  You get the idea.

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:*  “RIGHTS” —

Image:  Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride with the caption

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*  Wow. That scans just like “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

[Updated: edited for grammar.  #wordnerd]

Chief Justice Roberts quietly burns Scalia in the Obamacare decision – The Washington Post

Chief Justice Roberts quietly burns Scalia in the Obamacare decision – The Washington Post.

From the WaPo article:

The main question in the case is about the subsidies used to buy health insurance by people who otherwise can’t afford it. Roberts and Scalia disagree on whether Congress meant for the subsidies to be available through the federally run insurance marketplace set up under the law, as the Obama administration argued, or if Congress wanted to give subsidies only to people who bought insurance through an exchange operated by a state government, as the law’s opponents claimed.

Roberts agreed with the administration. He wrote that it was “implausible” for Congress to set up a system in which people who used the federal marketplace wouldn’t be able to get financial help buying insurance. Scalia disagreed. But, back in 2012, he had written that without subsidies, “the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended.”

And then there was this, from yesterday’s decision affirming the validity of the disparate impact theory of fair housing decision.  The majority opinion by Justice Kennedy explains that the Court had previously held similar language in Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to support that theory.  Regarding the ADEA decision, Justice Kennedy wrote:

In a separate opinion, Justice SCALIA found the ADEA’s text ambiguous and thus deferred under Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulation interpreting the ADEA to impose disparate-impact liability, see 544 U.S., at 243–247 (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment).

Texas Dep’t of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., No. 13-1371, 2015 WL 2473449, at *8 (U.S. June 25, 2015).  In other words, in 1984, Scalia believed that the language of the ADEA was ambiguous on the question of disparate impact and deferred to the regulations, something he refused to do with respect to the Fair Housing Act yesterday.

And this was just gratuitous, as I’m confident there are approximately 10,000 statutory construction treatises Kennedy could have quoted from:

Against this background understanding in the legal and regulatory system, Congress’ decision in 1988 to amend the FHA while still adhering to the operative language in §§ 804(a) and 805(a) is convincing support for the conclusion that Congress accepted and ratified the unanimous holdings of the Courts of Appeals finding disparate-impact liability. “If a word or phrase has been … given a uniform interpretation by inferior courts …, a later version of that act perpetuating the wording is presumed to carry forward that interpretation.” A. Scalia & B. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 322 (2012).

Id. at *11.

Such weird unpredictability from someone who believes the meaning of the constitution was fixed in 1787.

[Updated to add the second Inclusive Communities quote.]

Drive Like Your Kids Live Here*

Image: Red lawn sign with white letters that read "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here."  Other lawns in the background have the same sign.These preachy little signs are popping up all over our neighborhood. Every time I see one, two thoughts float through my head:

First thought:  I don’t have kids, you sanctimonious shit, so I’ll drive the way I would if my imaginary kids lived there and my imaginary kids all drive for NASCAR.

Second thought:  let’s apply this standard universally:

  • Provide access like your kids used wheelchairs.
  • Provide interpreters like your kids were Deaf.
  • Locate fracking like your kids lived there.
  • Make cops treat all kids like your kids.
  • Fund public education like you had one imaginary kid in each school in the country.  (Hey, if the Duggars can do it . . .).
  • Generally do unto others like you would do unto your kids.

Wasn’t there some guy a while back who had a whole philosophy, a religion, actually, IIRC, around a concept sort of like this?

Actually, a third thought often sneaks in, which is this:  I HATE this sort of sanctimony . . . FLOOR IT!  I honestly think this reaction would not be unusual, and that they’d have better results with a sign that read something like, “radar speed camera ahead.”

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* Shouldn’t it be “like your kids lived here.”  It’s the subjunctive, you sanctimonious UNGRAMMATICAL shits!

Dignify THIS!

I’m done. I’m done being polite.* I’m done shutting up about good liberals who seem to get every sort of civil rights and civil liberties except the equality of rights, respect, and dignity of our brothers and sisters with disabilities. I’m done with disability rights as a “when we get around to it” right. I’m done with people who are willing to use respectful terminology except — *big sigh* — avoiding using the word “retard” is just one step too far toward thought control.  And I’m done with “civil rights” law firms in inaccessible offices and “civil rights” lawyers who don’t hire interpreters. I’m done.

What pushed me over the edge was this voicemail, from a fellow attorney who would, I believe, describe himself as favoring civil rights. I suppose it’s my one last shred of not-yet-quite-doneness that leads me to keep him anonymous.

But who he thinks he is and who his words and actions show him to be should not be anonymous. It needs to be out there for good liberals — chock full of self-righteousness and non-disabled privilege — to observe and perhaps see themselves.  And become real civil rights lawyers by according people with disabilities the same rights and respect you accord other groups you work so hard for.

First let’s play the “protected class switcheroo” game. Imagine I got this voicemail:

Hey Amy, [Name Redacted] here. Trying to get in touch with you and/or Tim. I’m working with a group that is sponsoring legislation to increase penalties for disrespecting police officers. They got bogged down because of some African-American, ah, community concerns – said it would be used as a sword instead of a shield. Um, I think it’s miscommunication. I think the African-American community should be absolutely in favor of it and I wanted to hook up with folks, the right folks, in the African-American community and I thought you would know the behind the scenes politics of who best to contact. . . . .

Pretty gross, eh? No good liberal would talk that way, at least not in public in 2015. This is, in fact, the voicemail I received. Verbatim.

Hey Amy, [Name Redacted] here. Trying to get in touch with you and/or Tim. Um, I’ve done work in the past through when I was at the ACLU with the Hemlock Society; they’re now the Compassion and Choices organization and they sponsored some legislation about right to choose or to refuse treatment. They got bogged down because of some disability, ah, community concerns – said it would be used as a sword instead of a shield. Um, I think it’s miscommunication. I think the disability community should be absolutely in favor of it and I wanted to hook up the Compassionate Choices people with folks, the right folks, in the disability community and I thought you would know the behind the scenes politics of who best to contact. . . . .

And here is my response:

[Name Redacted] –

Thanks for your voicemail.  I think I can say with a fair degree of confidence that there was no miscommunication on the disability rights side.  The position of CCDC, Not Dead Yet Colorado, and a long list of prominent disability rights groups opposing physician assisted suicide is well thought out and thoroughly researched.  I can’t possibly improve on the information on NDYCO’s website, so I’ll provide a link:  http://www.notdeadyetcolorado.org/.

To be clear, Colorado’s bill was not about refusing treatment:  anyone can do that at any time without the proposed legislation.  It is also not about choices:  we can all choose to buy a gun and shoot ourselves; to drive in front of a train; to stop eating and drinking; etc.  Instead, the discussion revolves around getting a doctor to assist you in killing yourself to avoid — tracking the title of the bill — an undignified death.  What is characterized as “lack of dignity,” however, are conditions that many people with disabilities live and thrive with every day:  the need for a vent; a feeding tube; colostomy; urostomy; assistance with activities of daily living.  Statistics from Oregon, for example, a state that has legalized assisted suicide, demonstrate that people do not chose assisted suicide to relieve intractable pain — the purpose for which it has been sold to the public — but rather to address perceived loss of autonomy, inability to engage in activities of daily living, and loss of dignity.

These perceptions and the urge to kill oneself over them result directly from a society that does not value people with disabilities — and such perceptions are (circularly) reinforced by bills like these and the rhetoric that surround them.  Assisted suicide is urged in an environment in which people with disabilities do not have universal access to attendant care in their homes and communities, to assistive technology and mobility devices, to accessible vehicles or modifications, or to home modifications — hell, to accessible homes to start with.  These are all things that people need to continue to live — with dignity — in the community.  In the absence of this sort of support, many disabilities fit the bill’s definition of “terminal,” making it the worst sort of health care rationing:  cheaper dead than disabled.

A bill proposing that it was “undignified” to live as an African-American, an LGBT* person, or — to take an historical example — as a Jew, thereby justifying easy access to death would be rejected with horror.  Yet good liberals appear completely at home with providing a cheap and easy path to death for people with disabilities.

Furthermore, the concerns of people with disabilities reflect a great deal of thought and considered analysis; it is patronizing to suggest that they result from miscommunications.  I can’t imagine any other group active in the civil rights dialog that would be the subject of a voicemail like this.  When LGBT* groups oppose civil rights rollbacks, are they perhaps just victims of a miscommunication, which can be corrected by identifying the “right” groups?  How about African-Americans calling for law enforcement reform?  Shall we identify the “right” groups to support our men and women in blue?

The debate over physician assisted suicide has been plagued by this sort of condescension, as liberal and radical disability rights groups are accused of being pawns of religious conservatives, as if incapable of independent thought.  This infantilizing of our movement underscores our fears that disability is so stigmatized that ostensible civil rights champions would rather be dead than disabled.

Ultimately, if the ACLU is devoted to nondiscriminatory civil liberties, it should support a universal right to assisted suicide.  Anyone, anytime, can request a lethal dose, not just those in circumstances defined in terms of a protected classification.  This I would support, though I believe other members of the disability rights community are more compassionate than I am.

I would be happy to put you in touch with any of the groups on this list to help with any miscommunications:

  • Access & Ability Colorado
  • ADAPT
  • ADAPT Colorado
  • Assn of Programs for Rural Independent Living
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • The Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities
  • Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
  • Disability Rights Center
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Justice For All
  • National Council on Disability
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Spinal Cord Injury Association
  • Not Dead Yet USA
  • Not Dead Yet Colorado
  • Patients’ Rights Action Fund
  • TASH
  • The World Association of Persons with Disabilities
  • The World Institute on Disability

Sincerely,

Amy

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* Yes, I know, there is clear and convincing evidence that I was done with politeness, as a general matter, a long time ago.

One of these is not like the other, part II

In an earlier post, I compared this [still living] white twerp who likes to march around with a [real, loaded] shotgun with the [now dead] black 12-year-old with a [toy] gun.

I don’t have a specific person to compare to the white dude described below; all I can offer are statistics like these showing massively higher arrest rates for Blacks in possession of marijuana, even though more whites use pot.

Image:  Bar chart showing percentage of 18-to-25-year-olds who used marijuana in the past year (2001-2010), showing that the percentage of whites was consistently several percentage points higher than the percentage of blacks.

and

Image:  Bar chart showing arrest rate per 100,000 for marijuana possession (2001-2010), showing a consistenly much higher number (500-700) for blacks compared to whites (around 200).

But  Ex-NASCAR driver somehow avoids jail after leading police on a three-state, 150 mph chase – The Washington Post.

Walker, who was cited in St. George, Utah, in 2013, after leading police on a chase that started in Nevada and went through Arizona, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of failure to stop for an officer and possession of a controlled substance. Even more unbelievable, Walker was also cited for impaired driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, including methamphetamine and marijuana, and having an open container of alcohol — vodka! — in his BMW. Oh yeah, and there was also nearly a car-jacking at attempt, according to one of the officers in pursuit.

 

One of these is not like the other

White 18-year-old walks up and down city streets with a loaded shotgun.

Result:  is approached and questioned by police, refuses to show ID to prove that he’s carrying legally, lives to make a total dick of himself on the evening news.

Image: snip from local news showing reporter on the left (white; male; salt & pepper hair) talking to white teenager with shot gun.  Caption reads "Teen Records Open-Carry Encounter.  18 year old faces misdemeanor charge."

Black 12-year-old plays with toy gun in a park.

Result:  shot dead by police 2 seconds after they arrive by car on the scene.

Image:  clip from newscast with photo of black boy with caption "Boy with toy gun shot 2 seconds after police arrived.  Police:  cop told boy 3 times to show hands before the shooting."