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Craig and Gender Double Standards

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

A couple of our commenters made this point well, too, but this post very effectively expresses my puzzlement over various male commenters who seemed to think that having a foot tapped and hand rubbed on the side of a bathroom stall to signal sexual desire is a completely unconscionable act mandating immediate police intervention:

What I find more astonishing is the definition of “disorderly conduct.” By this reckoning, ten years and thirty pounds ago, I had disorderly conduct foisted upon me approximately…let’s see…15,923 times.

Per week.
Give or take.

But, even if they’re unwanted advances, that’s the natural order of things, right? Whereas men have to be protected from the unwanted advances of men at all costs (why? because they’re worried they just might succumb to a particularly persuasive piece of foot telegraphy?).

Given the constant, daily harassment women endure (come on now, don’t tune out; stay with me, here) — harassment that makes us compress our daily activities into daylight hours, that circumscribes where we go, who we go with, and even what we wear; intrusive harassment, ruin-your-day, make-you-feel-powerless/angry/depressed harassment — the overzealous prosecution of the toe-tapper really pisses me off. It’s like those sophomore discussions one has of human trafficking, in which someone invariably says “but what about the men?”, and then the rest of the discussion, in some form or another, is overwhelmingly preoccupied with those minority cases. Heaven forfend we don’t keep men front and center, even if it makes lousy Bayesians of us all.

Look: if there’d been groping, a physical risk, or even just a persistent advance in the face of a single “no” (which doesn’t seem to have ever been uttered), I’d be supportive regardless of the gender base-rates involved. But “he tapped his foot and looked at me funny”? Please! Men! Grow a pair!

Indeed; I’ll also add that as far as Craig knew the advance was not unwanted but invited, which makes the case particularly problematic (although I don’t know if it rises to the standard of entrapment under Minnesota law.) The rest of the post is sound analysis, too. [Via Prettier Than Napoleon via Catherine Andrews.]

UPDATE: Further thoughts here.

When Bad Economics Occur To Bloodthirsty Dictators

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

And the inevitably failed price controls in Zimbabwe are succeeded by…price controls. I’m not sure it’s possible for the situation to get more depressing, but it’s an incredible catastrophe getting worse.

Best, Editor. Ever.

[ 0 ] September 1, 2007 |

Congratulations to blog pioneer, friend of LGM, and edit makin’ person Patrick Nielsen Hayden for winning the Best Editor in the Known Universe award!

Endangered Species Sighting

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

We have a sighting of that increasingly rare beast, the principled, internally consistent pro-lifer! In response to an Anna Quindlen column that produced the usual outpouring of comically transparent illogic and evasion from anti-choicers, Matt Abbott is willing to actually apply his principles with some measure of consistency:

That said, I do believe, in some cases, the abortion-seeking woman is indeed the perpetrator. She knows very well what she’s doing. She’s not coerced by anyone. Perhaps she’s even going against the wishes of her loved ones. This is the woman who should be treated as a criminal – if not a murderer, then an accessory to murder.

What would be an appropriate prison sentence for such a woman?

Fifteen years-to-life sounds reasonable, no? Of course, one would have to take into account all the circumstances in a particular situation, and it wouldn’t be an easy task. But it could be done.

Admittedly, there’s still a little evasion, as he prefaces this by saying that “[n]ot all abortion-seeking women are perpetrators.” But still, that’s quite different from (in the more typical fashion of the American forced pregnancy lobby) simply assuming a priori that all women who obtain abortions are helpless victims. Moreover, few feminists would deny that some individual women are coerced into abortions, and in addition to safe, legal abortion part of what reproductive freedom should entail is ensuring that women who want to continue their pregnancies have the resources to do so. So while Abbott is very, very wrong, his position is at least worthy of some measure of respect.

Meanwhile, Dana points us to an even rarer animal: the pro-lifer who actually considers how abortion laws work in practice. The novelist Anne Rice, despite being a Catholic opposed to abortion, is endorsing Hillary Clinton because criminalizing abortion doesn’t actually work. This may seem like a rationalization or contradiction, but it’s actually a completely coherent position. Clinton’s set of policies, Rice correctly notes, will actually lead to fewer abortions than the illegal abortion-reactionary gender relations-irrational sex ed-threadbare safety net policies favored by most American “pro-lifers.” (Cf. Canada and Western Europe vs. Latin America.) A similar argument was made in book form by Mark Graber, who’s a reverse John Hart Ely: a pro-lifer who thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. When you look at the inevitably sporadic and arbitrary application of abortion laws, it actually makes perfect sense.

Come Vote For The Party of Forced Pregnancy, Ladies!

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

Kimblerley A. Strassel argues that the majority of women who vote Democratic are out there for the Republican plucking. What, might you ask, is the strategy? Well, apparently women no longer care about such trivial “70s” issues as whether they will be discriminated against in the workplace or whether the state will force them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term (and certainly it’s not like either of these are live issues that could turn on recent Supreme Court appointments or anything!) No, what’s really important to women — although we’re not treated to anything as gauche as evidence — is…tax cuts for the wealthy. Finally, a Republican with the courage to propose something new!

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate. So the married woman working as a secretary keeps less of her paycheck than the single woman who does the exact same job. This is the ultimate in “inequality,” yet Democrats constantly promote the very tax code that punishes married working women. In some cases, the tax burdens and child-care expenses for second-earners are so burdensome they can’t afford a career. But when was the last time a Republican pointed out that Ms. Clinton was helping to keep ladies in the kitchen?

So let me get that straight. As a political strategy, the Republicans should appeal to an already Republican group (affluent married women) by proposing a policy that will do absolutely nothing to help an expanding group that is for obvious reasons fleeing the GOP in droves (single women.) I’d also be interested in seeing a defense of the proposition that treating the income of male and female earners in a marriage equally is the “ultimate in inequality” while pay discrimination is trivial. And then there’s the “burdensome” problem of “child-care expenses.” How is the state going to address this problem while forgoing substantial amounts of revenue by treating the income of married people exactly like single people? Look, it’s Halley’s Comet! And, finally, apparently Republicans appeal to contemporary women by simply assuming that men will be the primary breadwinner and women are secondary workers responsible for the childrearing.

I think this strategy needs some work.

Adventures In Rank Idiocy

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

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“You ask for a miracle, I give you…Charlie Manuel.”

Granted, I’ve never understood the intentional walk fetish of so many managers. But they don’t get much stupider than walking 1)the best base stealer in baseball to 2)load the bases with 3)the go-ahead run to bring up 4)a good singles hitter who’s almost impossible to double up 5)followed by two of the best hitters in the league 6)with a pitcher with no command on the mound and 7)the beyond-washed-up Jose Table as your next option out of the bullpen. But since he seems to have established that absolutely nothing can get him fired, it’s hard to blame Manuel.

If I were a Phillies fan I would be spitting blood right now, but given the Phillies’ taste in managers it’s not clear who his replacement will be. Is Bill Virdon still alive? Doc Edwards? John McNamara?

…of course, given than Burrell continues to slug 4.000 against the Mets it’s not like the game is actually over…

…I’m not sure he had a better option, but bringing in a dead-armed Wagner for 2 doesn’t exactly look like a strategic masterstroke in its own right…

With A Barely Audible Whimper

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Since I was hard on the Tribe earlier this month, I should note that the Red Sox have had three chances to knock out the Yankees this year, and each time they have generously prevented the Yankees from reaching the canvas and poured them a cup of Bigelow Green Tea. Admittedly, nothing in this series was quite as pathetic as having the chance for a sweep handed to you on a silver platter and proceeding to make the hapless Kei Igawa look like Lefty Grove, but pretty feeble stuff. Speaking of feeble, I was at least hoping the Mariners might get a token day in the wildcard slot in September….

Social Conservatism For Thee…

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

Matt says:

A reasonable politics of “family values” needs to contain some penalties for heterosexuals with anti-family behavior (see, e.g., Dick Vitter, Rudy Giuliani) and support for gays with pro-family behavior. What they have right now is just loathing of gay people masquerading as defense of the traditional family.

This is true, but there’s another angle to it as well. Republican social conservatism, at least as instantiated as state policy, is about imposing burdens on other people to make oneself feel virtuous. Bans on abortion don’t seriously obstruct the ability of the affluent women Republicans represent to obtain safe abortions. Large homes in the suburbs are very unlikely to be subject to no-knock searches. And so on. These policies are basically a free pass for the Republican elites who advocate them, appoint judges who uphold them, etc.

And this is why gay-baiting is such a useful Republican tactic, even for the many closet tolerants among GOP elites. To put it mildly, it’s not obvious why gay marriage is a greater threat to family stability and “traditional values” than, say, no-fault divorce. But there’s not going to be a constitutional amendment to ban no-fault divorce introduced in Congress or serious attempts to get rid of it in most states — somehow, social conservatism always loses most of its appeal when restrictions on your liberties and privileges, rather than those of a stigmatized minority, are involved.

Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] August 30, 2007 |

David Ignatius.

Selective Opposition to Animal Cruelty?

[ 3 ] August 29, 2007 |

I actually think that Tia, responding to a criticism of people using the outrage about Michael Vick to criticize factory farming processes, makes a reasonable point here:

Without reading them, but with familiarity with the line of argument, I think all those op-eds are actually…a recognition that we make arbitrary distinctions about what animals’ pain matters, and an effort to make the case for non-arbitrary distinctions that have a basis in something other than totally culture-dependent taboos. I, too, find silly the spectacle of someone who is not in any discernible way opposed to factory farming practices fulminating about dogfighting, and there’s just as much a cultural diversity argument against a prohibition of dogfighting as there is against a prohibition of any kind of law against animal cruelty. It’s much easier to justify encroachments into someone else’s cultural practices if they’re based on some kind of gesture towards a coherent ethical scheme; “factory farmed meat for me, but no dogfighting for thee” strikes me as the most baseless sort of imperialism. You could make an argument that the spectacle of dogfighting is brutalizing to people, and so it should be banned not because of animal suffering, but because of its effect on the participants. I might agree about its likely effects, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the proper province of law to regulate; I don’t generally favor laws designed to protect people from seeing bad things and thinking bad thoughts.

As someone willing to eat bald eagle omelets garnished with panda veal, I must admit that I don’t really have a serious principled response to this. I don’t think think there’s any ethical compulsion to forego meat altogether (health is another question); the production of vegetables, wheat, etc. in our society generally involves the destruction of animal life too. Eating meat humanely raised and killed perfectly defensible. But I have to admit I don’t actually adhere to that kind of meat-eating. And since I consume the products of factory-farmed meat, I’m not sure that selective moral outrage at Michael Vick is particularly justifiable.

There are, I think, some colorable substantive distinctions; in particular, Vick’s actions (not just the dogfighting but the additional torture-killing of the dogs) represents a sadism for its own sake that factory farming doesn’t, and hence it’s reasonable for the law to treat them differently. But is this distinction enough to justify significant federal jail time for Vick in a country where factory farming is not only legal but subsidized? Seems like a hard case to make. Can eaters of mass-produced meat (or, even more so, people who see nothing wrong with mass-produced meat) justify intense outrage at Vick? It’s hard to rationally justify, I think. A little humility is on order for those of us with bad faith eating practices.

When He’s Smart, He’s Dumb

[ 0 ] August 29, 2007 |

As the Mariners jump out to yet another early deficit, I note that one strange thing about Bill Bavasi is that it’s very possible that the smartest thing he did this offseason — letting Gil Meche walk — is very likely to cost the Mariners a playoff spot. Not only because Meche has been very good, but his replacements make one long for the pitching stylings of James “The Fire Next Start” Baldwin. Admittedly, in retrospect optimistic Royals fans like Rany Jazayerli had a point; his uptick in K rates, combined with the fact that he was a talented pitcher with some innings under his belt meant that this wasn’t completely unforeseeable. But that made him a good short-term gamble, not worth a long-term contract for good money. Bavasi did the right thing; it failed. What can you do? (Alas, his stupid moves worked out more predictably. Well, Vidro’s actually been OK, but Broussard/Jones could have been similarly valuable for less money.)

Meanwhile, L, G & M has an exciting reverse hedge wager! Frequent commenter Howard has agreed to donate $50 in my name to Planned Parenthood when the Yankees make the playoffs. If several Yankees stars are killed in an attempt to sell drugs to Alfred Molina that goes horribly wrong tomorrow, Howard will be able to contribute a couple guest posts celebrating his !&*( Yankees during the post-season, and in addition I will of course make the donation myself. (Actually, I think this blog may already have a closet Yankees fan among its authorship, although she or, er, he has kept quiet about it.) Of course, if anyone wants to match…

…could the Mariers piss away a few more baserunners? They’re in danger of scoring another run at some point!

More on Craig and the Law

[ 0 ] August 28, 2007 |

GFR has more details, concluding that under Minnesota law that signaling someone in a public place that you’d be interested in engaging in consensual lewdness is not, in fact, illegal. (To be clear, nobody is denying that if he was actually engaging in sexual relations in a public place the state could legitimately intervene, but as far as I can tell nobody’s claiming that he did that.)

And, of course, nor should such behavior be criminalized, with inevitably arbitrary enforcement being one obvious reason. I mean, do you seriously think that a law that essentially banned making creepy passes at someone in public places would be routinely enforced against heterosexual men hitting on women? Not bloody likely. There’s a reason why in Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court when evaluating a statute that 1)said absolutely nothing about gender or sexual orientation and 2)ostensibly banned sexual behaviors that heterosexuals routinely engage in framed the legal question as whether “the Constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy” and (as Blackmun pointed out) displayed an “almost obsessive focus on homosexual activity.”

Another point from Garance:

But, again, I can find nothing in Minnesota state law that makes asking someone to hook up with you a crime, rather than a civil tort (as in sexual harassment law) regardless of the circumstances.

Why, then, do police continue to act as though it is? Because of the long and only-recently ended practice of firm legal discrimination against gay people. Until 2001, consensual sodomy was a crime in Minnesota, meaning that it was only six years ago that gay people in that state stopped being treated by the letter of the law as, quite literally, outlaws and criminals.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, the state Sen. Larry Craig has represented in Congress since 1981, consensual sodomy was a felony punishable as a “crime against nature” by five years to life in prison until 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that a similar statute in Texas was unconstitutional, thus striking down the state’s law. From 1996 until then, the state sex offender registry was written so as to add those convincted of even consensual sodomy to the sex offender rolls for life.

Right. Relatedly, Greenwald reminds us of one of my favorite ever manifestations of Instapunditry, in which Reynolds solemnley informed us that he was voting for the Republican in the Tennessee Senate race because…an obscure activist outed an Idaho politician who wasn’t up for re-election. (As I said at the time. “it would be considerably more embarrassing if he were telling the truth than if he was lying.”) At any rate, whatever one feels about outing it’s fairly obvious that Craig has nothing to complain about. To assert that a claim of privacy should entirely shield acts that you believe should be prevented by state coercion backed up with substantial criminal penalties is absurd.

…yet more from Yglesias, replying to a point that I’ve seen a lot in comments: “Weisberg & Plotz are also making sense here. The idea that the real crime was the peering into the cop’s stall doesn’t make sense. The cop was in the bathroom specifically to try to arrest cruisers. He arrested Craig not after the alleged peeping, but after this foot-tap-signal business.”

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