Sunday, July 31, 2005

Trans-Sexual Discrimination

A government employer may not discriminate on the basis of race. A government employer may not discriminate on the basis of sex. But, may a government employer deny a candidate a job because the candidate is a trans-sexual? Julian Sanchez argues that a court should require the Library of Congress to hire Diane Schroer (nee Dave Schroer), who claims she was denied a job because of her decision to become a woman.

If Dave was good enough for the government, so should Diane be. If her supervisor wouldn't have caviled at an employee born a woman presenting herself as one on the job, that ought not to change just because Diane had the misfortune to be born with the wrong set of biological equipment.

The Debate Over the Academic Bill of Rights

Columbia professor Todd Gitlin argues against legislative efforts to correct liberal bias in the country's universities.

Censorship is inexcusable; instructors ought not use classrooms as recruiting stations, and any serious institution must guarantee appeals against arbitrary punishment. But Horowitz’s academic bill of rights invites legislatures to rush in where conservative students fear to tread. Do the crusaders realize how patronizing they sound—and how reckless? Should lawmakers who bean-count the political loyalties of the faculty really serve as proper judges of intellectual integrity?Whatever happened to small government?


David Horowitz, a proponent of the legislation, responds to similar questions in a debate with UCLA professor Russell Jacoby.

Remotely Attractive Need Not Apply

The code of the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority now requires alcohol companies to use "clearly unattractive" men in their advertisements. In a recent adjudication, the Authority applied this rule to an advertisement for a drink called Lambrini. The Authority objected to a picture of three women with a slim, young man:


We would advise that the man in the picture should be unattractive - ie overweight, middle-aged, balding etc. In its current form we consider that the ad is in danger of implying that the drink may bring sexual/social success, because the man in question looks quite attractive and desirable to the girls. If the man was clearly unattractive, we think that this implication would be removed from the ad.


Thus, to avoid the wrath of the Authority, alcohol companies are now on notice that, before hiring a man to be in advertisement, they must ensure that he is "clearly unattractive."

I tried to imagine this standard being litigated:

The Authority acknowledges the testimony of the 53 female witnesses that the gentleman in the advertisement is "grotesque", "repugnant," "unsightly", "vile", "homely", "hideous" and "so unappealing as to induce spontaneous retching." The Authority found particularly compelling the testimony of the woman who has
commenced psychological therapy to cope with the image of the gentleman's furry cysts. Nonetheless, in light of the blind woman's testimony that she might consider fornicating with the gentleman for $5,000,000, the Authority cannot conclude that he is clearly unattractive.


UPDATE: Welcome to those of you who linked from Daniel Drezner. Please make yourself at home, and enjoy this site.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Should Roberts Answer Questions About Roe v. Wade?

On matters of politics, National Review contributor Andrew McCarthy and Senator Chuck Schumer rarely agree. Yet, they both believe that nominees to the Supreme Court should answer questions about important Supreme Court precedent like Roe v. Wade. McCarthy writes that Roe is a "transcendent decision" that "defines the judicial task itself." Money quote:


If you think Roe is good law, if you think it was well reasoned, if you think it reached the correct result, then you are basically saying that you think it is proper for a handful of lawyers, bereft of compelling precedent, and without competence in dynamic and relevant disciplines like medical technology (while unable institutionally to become competent by holding hearings like Congress does), to impose their policy preferences on the American people, and thus insulate those policy preferences from the democratic process.

Thus, while the effort of some Senators to solicit Roberts' views on Roe may be pretexts to elicit his views on abortion, McCarthy believes that the Roe inquiry is justified to understand the nominee's fundamental approach to jurisprudence.

In the public sphere, Roe is widely considered to be a case about abortion rather than a case about jurisprudence. People who are pro-life are believed to oppose Roe; people who are pro-choice are believed to support it. McCarthy's article reminds us that some people (I come to mind) simultaneously hold the following two beliefs: (1) Roe v. Wade is poor jurisprudence; and (2) the Federal Government should not outlaw abortion.

Bobo's World?

For more than six months, Atrios has run an ongoing series of posts titled "Bobo's World." Although it is unclear what motivates the posts, Atrios began the series by writing: "I think Bobo's World should be a regular feature. Please submit tales of the sordid from rural/exurban America as they come to your attention."

Readers post comments mocking the stories' characters, and attempting parodies of right-wing, or Red State, responses. In response to a story about a Baptist priest accused of sexual offenses, one comment read: "Gay marriage in San Fransicko and Faggachusetts is to blame. Senior Administration Official." Another comment read: "Bush am a genius." I recommend scrolling through the comments, which provide a window into hatred of Red State America.

Other left-wing blogs, such as this one and this one, have not seen this series as an embarrassment, but rather have taken a liking to Atrios's idea. One guy liked the idea so much that he devoted an entire blog to the concept. The blogger sums up his purpose:
New York Times columnist David Brooks repeatedly tells us that true American values and the best sort of people can only be found in the American Heartland, where religion and tradition rule supreme. It was blogger Atrios who first started giving us dispatches from the real "Bobo's World," an idea so good I decided it needed its own site.

I don't know what to make of this. From a sampling of the posts and the comments, the message of "Bobo's World" appears not to be that David Brooks is wrong to create a stereotype of the American Heartland. Rather, the message is that Brooks chose the wrong stereotype.

Incidentally, Atrios, who describes himself as a Proud Member of the Reality Based Community claims over 100,000 daily visits to the blog, and is one of the blogs linked to from Arts & Letters Daily, "A Service of the Chronicle of Higher Education."

Worth a Shot

Friends and family have told me that I should be a writer.

Two problems as I see it:

1) I don't have anything to write about; and

2) I'm not any good at it.

Now, most people would recognize these two obstacles as deal-breakers. Try something else.

However, there is a trump card in my psyche: my desire to please people. I don't mean this in a boastful way. No, my desire to please people is no virtue. In fact, it can be so strong that it is most often a character flaw. Like a need for validation. I mean, sure Mother Theresa in some sense desired to please people, but, then again, so did Hitler.

But I digress. The point here is that the power of my desire can motivate me to do some evidently stupid things.

So, like tone-deaf American Idol contestants take a stab at singing, I'm going to take a stab at writing.

To start, I'll just dip my toes in the shallow end.

With this blog.

What This Blog is All About

You put your right foot in. You put your right foot out.

You put your right foot in. And, you shake it all about.

You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That's what it's all about.