Category Archives: Random opinion

Prejudice leaks

I wonder about the term “micro-aggressions,” because they’re neither.  They seem to me to be prejudice leaks, neither aggressive nor — because they reveal an entire worldview — micro.*

We all have internal worldviews that are full of prejudices and assumptions.  Some true, some false; some examined, some unexamined; some praiseworthy, some benign, some offensive.  Then we encase the whole mess in the persona we are presenting to the world.  A thick exoskeleton of personality that is all most people ever see.

Image: Michelin Tire logo - human figure made of tires, with the effect of a puffy, tire-encased human.

Many people choose to encase themselves in an open-minded persona.  Maybe it helps them fit in to a liberal social circle or workplace.  Or maybe they genuinely believe they are open-minded.  It’s important to their self-image.  Or maybe it’s important to you to believe they’re open-minded.  They’re your friend, teacher, colleague, doctor, pastor.  You want to believe they see you as you are.

Then they say:

I’m so sorry your husband uses a wheelchair” ::furrowed eyebrows concerned face::  or

“are you the nanny?”  or

“where are you really from?” or

“you must be the first person in your family to go to college.”  or

“you’re so articulate!” or

is the father still in the picture?” or

“I know your kid has two moms, but who’s the real father?”

and a little fissure forms in the exoskeleton and the prejudice leaks out.**

Image: Michelin Tire logo - human figure made of tires -- with a small hole in his head and lines indicating a leak.

Suddenly you can see, in that small leak, the entire worldview that sits inside the protective exoskeleton.  That they view disability through a lens of pity.  That they have seen your skin color or facial features and constructed an entire narrative that has nothing to do with you.  That their views of LGBTQ families are stuck somewhere around 1950.

In many cases, it’s not aggressive,*** but it’s not micro.  It’s an inadvertent glimpse of an entire worldview you didn’t know existed, or didn’t want to know existed, or hoped against hope and experience did not exist, or perhaps they didn’t know existed or had been suppressing or had never stopped to think about or didn’t even have the framework to understand.

Prejudice leaks.

It doesn’t sound as cool as micro-aggression.  It sounds like something that requires padded undergarments.  But I honestly think it’s a more accurate description.

******************

*I realize I’m wading into an arena that has been the subject of a good deal of academic thought, research, and writing, and that I have 0.00 qualifications to take on that analysis.  This is a strictly non-academic view, from someone who has witnessed many real-life prejudice leaks that seemed neither micro nor aggressive.

**Not bad for someone who can’t draw, eh?

***There are plenty of cases where comments like these are aggressive, but in that case I wouldn’t call them “micro-aggressions,” I’d call them “prejudice” and perhaps also “being an asshole.”

Bathroom segregation as it should be.

Image:  Two bathroom doors.  The one on the left has a stick figure of a human and below it, the words “People who don’t pee on seats or floors, don’t steal plumbing fixtures or toilet paper rolls, throw paper towels in trash cans, flush, and only write witty and  entertaining graffiti.”  The one on the right has a stick figure of a pig’s face and below it, the words “People who pee on seats and floors, steal plumbing fixtures and toilet paper rolls, throw paper towels on floor,  don’t flush, and write disgusting or boring graffiti.”

 

 

We need all of us

My previous post was on the stages of grieving the recent election.  One of the things I noticed after my Dad died was that there are also different ways of grieving . . . and coping with loss and challenge.  I also noticed that the average number of dumb things I did and said (and, candidly, that other people said) went up radically during the grieving period.

In the past few days, since the election trainwreck, I’ve seen, heard, and read people grieving and coping in many different ways, some of which made me annoyed or even angry.  I’m trying to hold onto this bit of insight, though:  we need all of us.

We need people who are mad as hell and taking to the streets.

We need policy wonks who are willing to [drink a giant vodka and pepto cocktail and] try to make semi-rational policy with the incoming administration.

We need law nerds in offices with laptops suing the crap out of anyone who violates civil rights and civil liberties.  (I have to fit in somewhere, right?)

We need people who need to hear “it’s going to be OK” in order to get up in the morning and continue to do good work.

We need people who need to hear us acknowledge that it’s never ever going to be OK.

We need people to step up and step in when harassment happens.  Always.

We need people documenting every single act of harassment and vandalism.

We need both those who think this is the apocalypse and those who can pull us back from the emotional brink.

We even need [flying pigs and] liberal Republicans we can work with to limit the legislative and administrative damage to specific communities.

Most of all, I think, we need to be gentle with each other here on the left and the many and various ways we’re coping and processing.

We need all of us.

Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously, or, conservative thundershirt.

A recent article in Vox,  Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying, ends where we need to begin.  It makes a very strong case for the proposition that Trump voters are not — as a matter of demographic fact — poor whites pushed to the economic edge by globalization or immigration.   They tend to be more affluent than Democrats, and were approximately the same as Cruz voters.

Trump voters aren’t economically fragile; they are angry, insecure white people.  The article concludes:

What’s needed is an honest reckoning with what it means that a large segment of the US population, large enough to capture one of the two major political parties, is motivated primarily by white nationalism and an anxiety over the fast-changing demographics of the country.

Yes, exactly.  But how do we do that?  We are not going to civilize this part of our population by telling them that they are anxious, evil, wrong-thinking racists.  (OK, of course, that’s what I’m doing here.  But I’m assuming no one reads this blog, especially anxious racists.)

What we need is something like an anxious white-person Thundershirt (TM), which works very well to calm our dogs when they start barking wildly at nonexistent things that freak them out.

(Image: brown and white beagle wearing a tight grey vest around its torso.

If that doesn’t work — or if anxious white people refuse to strap themselves into a tight, gray, felt-and-Velcro contraption — we need some hard thinking about how to make them feel like they belong in the multi-racial, progressive society we are on track to becoming.  Obviously, pandering to fear and racism is not the answer.  Nor is it appropriate to demand that the targets of Trumpist hatred (blacks, Muslims, people with disabilities, immigrants, women, anyone with a shred of decency) take on the task of being teachers, hand-holders, reach-outters, or kum-ba-yah singers for precisely the folks who are currently treating them like crap.

What, then?  How to raise the dialog, create an inclusive environment, and bring the Trumpists along with us?  This will be especially necessary after the election should Clinton win.  They will be even angrier, barking at even more outlandish imagined conspiracies.

This is a very real question that desperately needs an answer.

The Guardian:  Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like ‘racial discrimination’ 

The group said it had taken the decision because it was the “best way of achieving maximum value from the limited resources available”.

No, really, this is a great idea.  Let’s change perfectly legal human behavior ex post, as we say in the law biz, by refusing to treat them when this (did I mention perfectly legal?) behavior requires it, and save a boatload in hospital costs, as well.

  • Injured in a car accident because you weren’t wearing a seat belt?  Before we stitch up your head and set your leg, you’ll have to wait six months and take a driving safety course.
  • Too many G&Ts and now your liver is shot?  We’ll wait til you sober up and then treat you.
  • Gout?  You’ll have to spend six months on a macrobiotic diet before you can even get an appointment.
  • Sports injury?  Seriously, that is all your fault.  Spend six months vegging on the sofa with a book like the good Lord intended, and maybe we’ll see to your torn ACL.
  • Shot by a jealous spouse/lover?  Probably should have thought about that before stepping out on them.  Six months of counseling and we’ll be happy to help you with that gun shot wound.

And the great thing, costsavingswise, is that most of the time, you’ll be dead by the time you are eligible for treatment, which is a huge savings.

 

 

Source: Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like ‘racial discrimination’ | Society | The Guardian

45 C.F.R. § 92.4; or yes, there is a difference between the parties.

For any Bernieite or other lefty grumbling that there’s really no difference between the parties, I hereby present section 92.4 of the implementing regulations of section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

On the basis of sex includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity.

Sex stereotypes means stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, including expectations of how individuals represent or communicate their gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics. These stereotypes can include the expectation that individuals will consistently identify with only one gender and that they will act in conformity with the gender-related expressions stereotypically associated with that gender. Sex stereotypes also include gendered expectations related to the appropriate roles of a certain sex.

Boom.  Now go forth and proudly vote for Democrats, up and down the ticket.  Because there is a difference.  A real difference.

 

The Law Nerd Manifesto, or Email from Thomson Reuters Shows Why We Need Government-Hosted, Boolean-Searchable, Free, Public Access to Caselaw.

We pay a couple thousand dollars a month to Thomson Reuters — owners of the Westlaw database — for the privilege of searching and retrieving decisions by the federal and state judges who are paid from our tax dollars to decide the cases in our public justice system.  Even though these decisions are the backbone of our common law — that is, precedent-based — legal system, We The People don’t have effective access to them without paying the couple-thousand dollars a month for a Westlaw or Lexis subscription.  You could go to a law library and do old fashioned dead-trees book research but, among other things, you’d be reading books published by Thomson Reuters, and you could not remotely afford to purchase these books on your own.   And access to those privately-published, drop-dead-expensive books depends on having access to a law library; they’re not generally available at your average public library.

There are cheaper services, but they are far less comprehensive, so you could never be sure you are searching everything your opponent is or the judge expects you to.  The only publicly available service is PACER which has no full text search function, and charges 10 cents a page to download decisions.  You can only search by case “type” and then just guess which cases have relevant decisions.  There is simply no way it could replace the full-text Boolean search capability of Westlaw or Lexis.

So mostly we just grumble and open a vein each month, while Thomson Reuters and Lexis/Nexis make large piles of money being the gatekeepers of our judicial system.

Then we get an email like this:

To our customers:

As part of our commitment to transparency, I wanted to alert you to some errors related to publishing cases in Westlaw® and our print volumes that we have now corrected.

In March, Thomson Reuters became aware that small portions of text were missing[*] in a number of new cases posted to Westlaw due to the introduction of an upgrade to our PDF conversion process in November 2014.

. . .

Our analysis[**] of the cases found that none of these issues resulted in any change to the meaning of the law. To provide clarity, we are posting examples of the issues, as well as a listing of all corrected cases, here. We will post all affected cases with corrections highlighted within the text.

. . .

We are very aware of our crucial role in supporting the U.S. legal system, and there is nothing more important to us than delivering the best possible solutions and customer service to you.[***] Please accept our apologies for our errors. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Andy Martens
Global Head of Product & Editorial

So for the thousands we and millions of other lawyers pay them each month, we can’t even get a reliable account of the cases that constitute the written record of the American judicial system.  And this is just the errors Thomson Reuters has “become aware” of.

At this point in the evolution of document formatting and search technology, there is no reason why the following system shouldn’t be in place:

  1. All judicial decisions online in fully-searchable format.
  2. A taxpayer-funded, free, public database that permits full-text Boolean searches, that is, that permits any American with access to the internet to do the legal research necessary to understand our legal system.

Call it The Law Nerd Manifesto.

*********

*And by “missing” we mean “the case no longer reads the way it was written by the judge.”

**And by “analysis” we mean “frantic ass-covering maneuvers.”

***”Well, almost nothing.  We also like rolling around like Scrooge McDuck in the massive piles of cash we reap from publishing THE CASES THAT CONSTITUTE OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM.  Bwaahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”