Posts Tagged ‘Law’

Monday Medley

What we read while passing on the role of Batman, with disastrous consequences…

Scattered Thoughts On Gun Control

Guns are bad...Like everyone, I’m sad and angry about Friday’s tragedy. But I keep hearing that now is the time to discuss gun control. So, fine, let’s discuss…

 

—It’s unfortunate that so many people now dismiss the idea that there should be a window of mourning, during which political discussions ought to be tabled, after a national tragedy like Friday’s shooting. I understand why that is: Calls to postpone talk of politics are so often themselves politically motivated, a way to put off a conversation one side never intends to have, that they seem cynical. But it should be obvious that the time for policy discussions is not when people are angry, sad, depressed, scared, emotional, and irrational. This is what leads to laws like the Patriot Act. It’s not that policy discussions should never flow from a national tragedy, and obviously knowing how long to wait is tricky, but I suspect the answer is at least a few hours, maybe even a day or two.

 

—Why do so many of the same people who (rightfully) laugh at the idea that drug prohibition decreases drug use, endorse the idea that gun control will solve the problem of gun violence? Gun control does not mean that bad or crazy people won’t get guns; it means the government will get to decide who gets to have guns. This is the same government, of course, that kills foreign Muslims almost indiscriminately, that imprisons blacks at six times the rate it imprisons whites, that systematically harasses young men based on their ethnic background. But for some reason people think new gun laws would be enforced fairly and equitably.

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Monday Medley

What we read while snacking with Joey Chestnut…

Monday Medley

What we read while dabbling in witchcraft….


First Amendment Symposium, Part III: Why Rights Still Don’t Matter

So, Josh exercised his right to free speech by responding to my critique of rights with his own defense of rights. His defense was valiant, yes, but doomed.

Let’s start right at the beginning, with Josh’s attempt to define the ineffable concept of a “right”: “If X has a right to do something, he is legally protected from interference by Y. In other words Y has a correlative duty not to interfere with X’s right. So, if X has a right to speak freely, then Y has a correlative duty not to interfere with X’s speaking freely.” This doesn’t really help us much, does it? A right means that Y—Y, as defined by Josh himself, “being any other individual or the government”—has a duty not to interfere with that entitlement. So, technically, every single time you interrupt someone you have violated someone’s right to free speech, since you’ve interfered with that person’s speaking freely. Apparently, that person now has legal recourse against you. By this standard, public school teachers who force students to raise their hand before speaking have collectively committed the gravest assault on our free speech rights that the U.S. has ever known.

Of course, this is ridiculous because Josh’s standard is ridiculous. A right protects you from any interference? That’s simply not true empirically. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while looking for another way to make two million dollars:

  • A new study finds that women may actually make better judges using certain standards.
  • Does anyone not feel much sympathy for David Letterman? Robin Hanson offers a defense of blackmail…Well, more like a defense of the removal of anti-blackmail laws.

On Empathy and the Law

According to President Obama, “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily reality of people’s lives.”  While Obama valued legal prowess as a necessity for becoming a Supreme Court justice, “empathy” was a tiebreaker that ultimately led to the nomination of Sonia Sotamayor.

There have been two main lines of thought on empathy since Obama has emphasized it. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate and other liberal commentators maintain that understanding the feelings of other people is frequently beneficial for reaching good legal decisions: “When did the simple act of recognizing that you are not the only one in the room become confused with lawlessness, activism, and social engineering? For a group so vociferously devoted to textualism and plain meaning, conservative critics have an awfully elastic definition of the word empathy.”
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