Prolancia Aquila Turner, 26, seems to have come up with a novel claim of discrimination or police abuse. After being arrested for stealing from a jeweler in a Florida mall, Turner angrily objected to the police that “Everyone steals from this store. Why are you picking on me?” In the meantime in California, the reduction of shoplifting penalties are being blamed for an increase in the crime as criminals treat short sentences as a minor cost-of-doing business (or in this case, not doing business).
We have previously discussed the controversy over the Redskins name. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name as well as the underlying law used to strip the team of its trademark protection. The law allows for a small administrative office to effectively dictate the outcome of a long simmering societal debate over the team name. More importantly, the standard for determining what names or words are disparaging remains dangerously undefined with striking contradictions as we have previously discussed in permitted and disallowed trademarks. One of the cases that I have discussed involves an Asian-American rock band called The Slants, which was also barred by the office. Now, an independent poll by the Washington Post has found that 9 out of 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name. This is consistent with past polls going back years that have found that the vast majority of Native Americans do not object and are not offended by the name. In particular, a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that same overwhelming result. Indeed, the numbers have not changed despite years of advocacy by a small fraction of Native Americans.
By Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor
Oral arguments for the last case of the Supreme Court’s term were this week. The case, McDonnell v. U.S., was about ethics and potential corruption between a donor and the former governor of Virginia. The timeliness of this case is not lost on this citizen of Illinois, where we should probably consider putting links to contribute to our candidates’ legal defense funds on our ballots. That’d be funny if their chances of going to jail for ethics violations or corruption weren’t actually greater than fifty percent. Four out of the last seven governors have been imprisoned. But at least our criminal governors make it easy on the courts! Dear Children’s Memorial Hospital, I won’t release your $8 million of state funding until you give me a $50,000 campaign contribution. Sincerely, Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
But what would it mean if for “the first time in our history that a public official has been convicted of corruption despite never agreeing to put a thumb on the scales of any government decision.” Do we have to wait for them to put a thumb on the scale in order for it to be punishable corruption? Today’s case shines a spotlight on former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and could serve as an opportunity for the Supreme Court to send a bold warning to elected officials everywhere that quid pro quo corruption need not be as heavy handed as a thumb on a scale. Continue reading
There is an interesting lawsuit against a US sperm bank Xytex and its Ontario distributor, Outreach Health. At the center of the case is Donor 9623, James Christian Aggeles of Georgia, who claimed an IQ of 160, an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. He also claimed that he was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience engineering. In reality, he was a formal mental patient with a felony conviction. His sperm was used to conceive at least 36 children in Canada, the US and Britain. The result is a $12 million lawsuit against the companies.
We have been discussing the battle over free speech on colleges and universities, particularly with the rise of protests and/or sanctions over “microaggressions” and speech deemed insulting or disparaging to any group. The latest such controversy is at Dartmouth College where a Kentucky Derby party hosted by Kappa Delta Epsilon was cancelled after protests that it was a racist demonstration. The objections however seem disconnected to the historical record of the race.
It is rare to have a judge involved in fist fight but it is even more rare when the other combatant is also a judge. That was the scene this week downtown Washington where Administrative Judge Joan Davenport, 63, went toe-to-toe with Administrative Judge Sharon Goodie. Davenport was charged with misdemeanor simple assault.
There is an interesting controversy out of Marquette University, which has moved to suspend and possibly fire Professor John McAdams after his criticism of a junior faculty member Cheryl Abbate in a free speech dispute. Abbate was recorded by a student in saying that his views against same-sex marriage were not appropriate to be voiced in her class. The response of the university has some problematic elements for a free speech perspective.