Bean has a good account of the successful push to stop a bad Oklahoma abortion regulation. Obviously, pro-choicers can’t just rely on the courts; every veto point needs to be put into play wherever possible.
Majorities have a right–even an obligation–to preserve their own ethics, norms, cultures and histories. They have a right to define the qualifications for membership in and even admission to their societies. This will be the struggle of the 21st century. And not just in France.
So where was Marty when we needed him?
An excellent comment threads here. To respond to some points:
- First, from the left, Mithras has some good points. He’s right, of course, that this policy involves “censorship”; what I meant is that it wasn’t general censorship of sexually explicit materials per se. (He was also right that I shouldn’t have used the term “age of consent”; to be clear, I certainly don’t advocate a 21-year-old age of consent, and neither does Garance; like Amanda, I read her as wanting to increase the ability of young adults to experiment sexually without worrying about consequences. We should attack these consequences, but they’re there for now.) I also don’t think that it would necessarily violate the First Amendment, unless the 18-year old limitation on distributing materials also violates it.
- I do agree with Anderson that Garance’s specific defense of her remedy is far too close to Kennedy’s reasoning in Gonzales for comfort. (It’s not quite the same because it’s not exclusively applicable to women, but under current restrictions mostly male producers and female participants will be involved.) I don’t think it’s the best argument for her policy, but I do think that any policy premised on the idea that adult women have to be prevented from doing things they’ll later regret is unjustifiable. If there was actual evidence that women in this particular age group were significantly more likely to be harmed by contracts they didn’t give informed consent to, this might be different. But absent such evidence, I reiterate my belief that Garance’s remedy is overbroad and not sufficiently justified by evidence.
- Meanwhile, from the right (or, more accurately, from the left-communitarian) flank, RAF questions both halves of my argument that if the “censorship of porn is necessary it won’t work and if it would work it’s not necessary.” I should say that my argument, like the Canadian Supreme Court, assumes that a liberal democratic state cannot violate free speech merely because sexually explicit materials offend traditionalist mores.
It can protect harms that may come to particular individuals, but in the kind of patriarchal society that would produce large amounts of objectionable porn it is extremely implausible to think that government officials determining what materials are “dehumanizing” would be free from the patriarchal assumptions that largely structure the porn industry, and I believe that the Canadian case bears this out (and why Andrea Dworkin maintained that censorship was a bad remedy.) In a society sufficiently just that we could assume that government officials were immune from such assumptions, it is unlikely that sexually explicit materials would pose enough of a problem to justify state action. Moreover, Atrios is correct that censorship is particularly prone to arbitrary and abusive enforcement because (particularly if the standards are crafted in a way so as to exclude serious literature and scientific works) the standards will always be extremely vague. On that issue, I completely agree with Roy that “[e]xploitation, alas, exists. But this is no reason to fold the tent of liberty.”
…I think this remedy from zuzu is a better one: “Enforce the liquor laws, enable women who regret signing these things while drunk to void the releases later on the basis of being impaired, and require some minimum compensation for the use of their images. IOW, put the onus on Francis, et al. to ensure that the women appearing in his videos did so free from coercion, impairment or a raw deal.” Right. If women are choosing to do these things freely, there’s no reason they have to be drunk or there can’t be “cooling off” laws, etc. More from her colleague Jill.
Employers who fail to fire employees who tape pepper spray canisters, nunchucks, and throwing stars to the bottom of their desks are playing with fire. Expensive fire. Sure, Roy started it, and I’m glad Dunder Mifflin fired him. But what about Dwight? After all, the man kept weapons at work for God knows how long. And if Roy can prove that Dunder Mifflin knew about them and failed to take action, then he just might have a claim for damages (e.g. eye doctor appointments, pain and suffering, etc.). Maybe Toby should go ahead and start to prepare for this deposition too while he is at it.
To make matters worse, Dwight admits having the weapons during Toby’s investigation into the incident. The time has come for Dunder Mifflin to part ways with Dwight. And unlike they did with Roy, Dunder Mifflin should spring the fifteen bucks and just FedEx Dwight’s last check to him.
There has been a lot of interesting discussion of Garance’s WSJ op-ed about raising the age of consent in the porn industry. I should say that I share Avedon and Roy‘s general libertarian perspective on the issue and probably end up in the same place as they do, but I think they’re being a touch unfair to Garance’s argument. Certainly, I agree (even leading aside the question of whether obscenity should be excluded from First Amendment protection, which has never been very persuasive to me) that if the censorship of porn is necessary it won’t work and if it would work it’s not necessary. Canada’s experience with R. v. Butler–in which a Supreme Court decision permitting censorship of sexually explicit materials only on explicitly feminist grounds was used primarily harass gay and lesbian and feminist bookstores–is instructive. Roy also makes a good point about how “[p]opular R-rated giggle-fests from Porky‘s to the American Pie movies are, to me, dirtier than a typical porn film, because they posit sex as something you get away with, like theft or vandalism,” although as Neil reminds us a lot of porn (which simultaneously celebrates and punishes female sexual expression) has a similar ethos.
Still, while I agree with these arguments on their own terms I think they’re a little unfair to Garance’s argument. She is not, after all, really advocating censorship; even the most hardcore civil libertarian, I think, recognizes the need for an age of consent, and whether this (inherently somewhat) arbitrary line should be drawn at 18 or 21 is surely debatable without threatening a slippery slope to Comstockery. The fact that Garance would exempt people whose images are sold from punishment would avoid the obvious problems that make, say, bans on prostitution so counterproductive. I’m still not convinced by Garance’s argument–I would need to know more about how much more likely 18 year-olds are than 22-year-olds to regret decisions to appear in sexually explicit material, whether it could be effectively and non-arbitrarily enforced (I would definitely oppose the policy change if Garance was right that it would be observed in the breach), and I would also prefer to try to more narrowly regulate coercive commercial exploitation before taking a larger step–but I don’t think increasing the age of consent for commercial use of sexual images is an attack on fundamental civil liberties.
Spoilers regarding the 4/29 Sopranos below…
I didn’t find the Tony as Degenerate Gambler aspect of last week’s Sopranos at all troubling; they’ve made fairly clear for a while now that Tony is suffering from a slowly declining revenue flow, which has made him engage in risky behaviors in other areas (making a deal with people he barely knows in Florida, supporting Christopher’s risky but potentially quite lucrative venture into the film industry). Recall that he was seriously entertaining Vito’s offer to move to Atlantic City before Phil eliminated that option. Tony’s spending and gambling isn’t anything new, but he simply doesn’t have the revenue flow anymore to make up for that kind of losing streak.
This is not to say that the ep was flawless; the stuff with Vito’s wife and son was handled a bit clumsily, and the death of Hesh’s girlfriend seemed weird and pointless. Nevertheless, I thought it was a solid entry.
Around the turn of the twelfth century the Counts of Scheyern acquired Wittelsbach Castle, a fortress not terribly far from Augsburg. By the mid-twelfth century the family had relocated to Wittelsbach Castle, and in 1180 were invested as Dukes of Bavaria. The Duchy had previously been ruled by Henry the Lion, who fell afoul of Frederick Barbarrosa when he failed to support the latter’s invasion of Lombardy. Bavaria had existed as a coherent territory since the late 6th century, although of course its borders and population changed over time.
The Wittelsbachs would remain in control of Bavaria until 1918. The territory was periodically divided by German kings, but reunited for good in the 17th century. Two Wittelsbachs served as Holy Roman Emperor, one as King of Germany, four as King of Sweden, and one as anti-King of Hungary between the 14th and 18th century. Joseph Ferdinand was supposed to succeed Charles II as King of Spain, but the death of Charles II and the War of Spanish Succession prevented that from happening. Finally, in 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte abolished the Holy Roman Empire. Duke Maximilian IV Joseph, a close ally of Napoleon, was elevated to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria.
The Wittelsbachs remained closely intertwined with the rest of European royalty in the 19th century. In 1832, Prince Otto became King of Greece, although he lost that crown in 1862. The mother of Maximilian I of Mexico was also a Wittelsbach. The pressures of politics, royal society, and rulership got to Ludwig II of Bavaria, who became known as “Ludwig the Mad”. Ludwig II was a patron of Richard Wagner, was very popular with the general public, and built a number of memorable castles in Bavaria. However, his considerable eccentricities led to his confinement on June 10, 1886 and, presumably, to his mysterious death three days later. Ludwig II was succeeded by his brother Otto I, who was himself quite mad. Otto I was deposed by law in 1913, and succeeded by Ludwig III, who would preside over the final collapse of the Kingdom of Bavaria.
Defeat in World War I and general dislocation forced the Wittelsbachs to abdicate and flee the country. They returned in the 1920s, but did not reassume power. The Wittelsbachs bitterly opposed the Nazi regime in Germany, and relocated to Hungary in 1939. When the pro-Nazi regime in Hungary collapsed in late 1944, the family was arrested and sent to a series of concentration camps, including Dachau. The family was liberated in late April 1945 by the US 3rd Army.
Among those liberated was eleven year old Franz, who is currently the head of House Wittelsbach. In addition to his pretension to the throne of Bavaria, Franz is at the head of the line of Jacobite succession. Although replaced by George I, House of Glucksburg, the Wittelsbachs never abandoned their claim on the (currently abolished) throne of Greece. Finally, Franz also has a compelling claim on the title King of Jerusalem. Fortunately or no, prospects for reclamation of any of these thrones seem grim. Whatever issues the British may have with the Windsors, the monarchy is more likely to be abolished than turned over to the Jacobite claimant. If the Greeks decide to re-establish the throne, they are far more likely to turn to Constantine II and his heirs than the House of Wittelsbach. Finally, a return to the throne of Jerusalem would presumably require the reconquest and re-establishment of that kingdom. It is not believed that Franz II is contemplating that project at this time.
Trivia: What deposed monarch escaped with $3,000 in cash, four automobiles, and a diamond-and-ruby medal given to him by Stalin?
Today all eyes turn toward Kentucky. Her Majesty is in attendance. Rumour has it that George Clooney is supposed to be around, as well, but I’m not sure about that. Still working on getting a reserve box for Patterson School faculty and guests.
For you compulsive types that just have to bet, here are Crazy Rob’s selections:
1. Nobiz Like Shobiz: Four wins in his last six races. Cool name. Pretty solid bet at 8:1.
2. Curlin: Dominating horse, but today just isn’t his day.
3. Dominican: Longshot, but very good workouts, and Rafael Bejarano is my favorite jockey.
Above: A drink that is not a martini.
Who says the Emm-Ess-Emm can’t tell hard, necessary truths?
Before we discuss the findings, though, we need to clear up a little matter. It’s come to my attention that some people believe martinis are made with vodka. I hate to get snobbish about it, but a martini should be made with gin or it’s not a martini. Call it a vodkatini if you must, but not a martini. Gin and vodka have as much in common hierarchically as a president and a vice president. Vodka can fill in for gin from time to time and might even be given certain ceremonial duties of its own, but at important moments you need the real thing. Vodka generally makes a poor substitute for gin in a martini or any other gin cocktail.
Certain truths are self-evident and among them are 1)drinks made with vodka are not martinis, and 2)Americans who pay 11 bucks a shot to drink a deliberately tasteless alcohol straight are wankers. Vodka’s place is solely as a mixer for drinks that don’t taste like drinks. I also like the fact that Asimov gets the minor premises right: if a drink has no vermouth in it, it’s not a martini. If only he had been covering the Iraq War…
How does George W. Bush, a towel-snapping Texan who puts his feet on the coffee table, drinks water straight from the bottle and was once caught on tape talking with food in his mouth prepare for a state dinner with the queen?
With tips from an etiquette guide, of course — and a little gentle prodding from his wife.
The White House is atwitter over the visit on Monday by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. This is the first visit by the queen since 1991, when Mr. Bush’s father was president. White House aides say the state dinner in her honor is not only the social event of the year, but also of the entire Bush presidency.
It will be closely watched by the social elite for its collision of cultures — Texas swagger meets British prim. Dinner attire is white tie and tails, the first and, perhaps, only white-tie affair of the Bush administration. The president was said to be none too keen on that, but bowed to a higher power, his wife.
Wow; I hope that George “Cletus” Bush doesn’t use the salad fork to slaughter a hog during dinner. I see the potential for high comedy! Isn’t this part of an unused Parker and Stone script for “That’s My Bush!”?
Let’s review: George W. Bush is not a country bumpkin. He is not a stranger to formal affairs. He didn’t spend most of his youth clearing brush. He knows how to use all of the forks at the table. He’s not going to accidentally hock a loogie into the Queen’s hair while aiming for the White House spitoon. He probably even knows how to tie a bow-tie. He is a very wealthy man, the product of a long line of New England aristocracy. His heritage and upbringing are every bit as WASP-ish as that of John Kerry. The Queen has been dining with Presidents since Eisenhower, and apart from his father Dubya is probably the most aristocratic of any of them. The central achievement of his political life has been disguising all of that beneath a thin veneer of “rustic Texan”, but the New York Times shouldn’t have respected that nonsense in 1999, and shouldn’t take it at all seriously now.
It’s all affect. I suppose that’s all he has left.
For anyone remotely familiar with the history of Darwinian thought as a prop for socially recalcitrant views of “human nature,” there’s not much new in this Times piece — though it’s always heartening to hear conservatives returning with childlike wonder to the great intellectual debates of the 1880s.
All that aside, there’s also nothing new in the sloppy invocations of “fascism” and “communism” in the effort to undermine the very notion of Darwinian theory. And so:
Skeptics of Darwinism like William F. Buckley, Mr. West and Mr. Gilder also object. The notion that “the whole universe contains no intelligence,” Mr. Gilder said at Thursday’s conference, is perpetuated by “Darwinian storm troopers.”
“Both Nazism and communism were inspired by Darwinism,” he continued. “Why conservatives should toady to these storm troopers is beyond me.”
It’s good to know that between servings of warm bean paste and pureed bananas, William Buckley can still mumble the cliches that sustained him for all those years. [Evidently, all the time I've spent not grading this week has ruined my reading comprehension skillz. As pointed out in comments, the "storm troopers" line was from Gilder, who isn't quite old enough for a bean paste and bananas diet.] It’s also good to know that the meaning of phrases such as “storm troopers” has been so diluted from overuse that it can now apply to science educators and school boards. Still, it’s worth pointing out that statements like Buckley’s reveal what I can only see as willful ignorance of the history of biological and social thought. The basis of the error is pretty simple. Nazism and communism are teleological, perfectionist narratives; the Darwinian view of adaptation and descent with modification is not. The problem is that many intellectuals — like Republican presidential candidates paying worship to the name of Ronald Reagan — attached Darwin’s name to ideas that owed little to Darwin himself.
From the 1860s through the 1940s, nearly everyone with an elaborate social vision claimed — however implausibly — to be influenced by “Darwin,” most of whose writings they had not apparently bothered to read. Aside from some speculative remarks in The Descent of Man, Darwin didn’t much bother to apply his ideas to contemporary civilization in any systematic way. Racists, socialists, patriarchs, single taxers, vegetarians, feminists, robber barons and philanthropists each borrowed selectively from Darwin and drew their own lessons, all of which claimed the authority of science. Same for communists and Fascists, whose visions of human destiny were in any event always more Lamarckian than Darwinian, no matter what their advocates claimed in public. (Nor does this fact mean that Lamarck was responsible for the horrors of the death camp and the gulag; it just means that fascists, on top of their other flaws, were deeply stupid as well.)
As a product of 19th century European culture, there are certainly some teleological, “progressive” elements to Darwin’s work, but I’ve always been struck by the degree to which Darwin’s writings describe a natural world that’s disorderly and unpredictable and not the servant of human “will.” If Darwin’s ideas validate any particular social arrangement, then, I think the old leftist complaint about Darwin still applies — at times, The Origin of Species reads like a science fiction novel about the virtues of classical liberalism. But this certainly doesn’t “prove” that classical liberalism (or contemporary conservatism) is the appropriate way for creative, dynamic, pluralistic human societies to order their business. Any idiot can see that.
As for Darwin’s later work on vegetable molds and climbing plants, though, I think there are many relevant lessons there for anyone seeking to understand the rise of the New Right. In the very least, those books help explain why William F. Buckley continues to find an audience.