I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY!

November 4, 2014

You remember that episode, where Michael Scott declares bankruptcy?

Keep that in mind for this lesson, kids.

This happens to all of us, from time to time. A lawyer sends you a letter with some threatening language on it that he thinks accomplishes his goal of making it “confidential.” You know, like this:

CONFIDENTIAL LEGAL NOTICE
PUBLICATION OR DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED

The correct legal response is “suck my ass” or whatever you want to say. Ok, fine, how about “your point is invalid”. Let’s go with that. It is nicer, after all. And I’m all about being nice.

Now here’s one thing you can rest assured of: If someone puts that foolishness on their letter, it is because they’re afraid of that letter getting out there. They can’t possibly have confidence in what’s in it. Look, I write a letter, I expect that it might wind up getting slapped on Simple Justice, with Greenfield making fun of it. Even then, I can’t seem to catch every typo. But you know what? If my name is on it, you can bet your ass that I’ll own it.

And here’s why you can make the chucklefuck who signed YOUR letter own it by publishing the shit out of it, if you want.

For starters, saying “This letter constitutes confidential legal communication and may not be published in any manner.” is about as legally compelling as Michael Scott yelling “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY.” Lawyers do not have magic powers that turn letters into confidential communications. You’re more likely to find a lawyer who can turn water into funk than a lawyer who has the magic spell to make a letter confidential. Sure, there might be some rules that make them inadmissible for certain purposes in litigation. But, you wanna share that letter? Go right the fuck ahead. Unless you’ve agreed to confidentiality, it ain’t confidential.

When I get one, I usually email the other guy and say “I’m not going to respect your request for confidentiality.” I give them a chance to support their position. When they don’t, I ask them if they want to give me something in exchange for confidentiality. So far, no takers.

Then, they realize “holy flaming peckerballs, this Randazza character can see right through the I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY trick! Randazza has spell capability? FUCK, he’s not a fighter, he’s a goddamned level 9 Ranger, and he’s got Druid spells! HE JUST CAST THE ‘SEE THROUGH BULLSHIT’ SPELL!!!!!

I know, it's my intellectualize proprietary res judicata!

I know, it’s my intellectualize proprietary res judicata!

So then they try again…

Aha, smart ass. That letter is COPYRIGHTED! I hereby throw the spell of Title 17!

Bush. League. Shit.

If someone pulls that on you, they’re even more full of shit than the guy who just tries the I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY spell.

Dumbass rolls a 2.

Here’s why:

It is no secret that the film, The People vs. Larry Flynt is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was required viewing in my classes, back when I did the lawprof thing. New hires need to watch it at my firm. You need to watch it.

Most of my readers are fully aware of the Supreme Court case depicted in the film. However, the lesser known case, mentioned for all of 30 seconds in the film, is the Hustler v. Moral Majority countersuit.

In that case, Jerry Falwell took the “Jerry Falwell Talks About His First Time” Campari parody and sent it to his Moral Majority minions — soliciting donations. Falwell took the entire copyrighted work and used it for a blatantly commercial purpose.

One of Falwell’s top executives conceded that the inclusion of a copy of the ad parody was part of a “marketing approach” to fund-raising, and the court can safely assume that this strategy involved encouraging the faithful to donate money. Hustler v. Moral Majority, 606 F. Supp. 1526, 1534 (C.D. Calif. 1985).

However, the court also found that he was not using the ad to elicit support for purely commercial gain, but even if he was, this did not dissolve his fair use defense.

[T]he court must also consider whether “the alleged infringers copied the material to use it for the same intrinsic purpose for which the copyright owner intended it to be used.” Marcus, 695 F.2d at 1175; Jartech, Inc. v. Clancy, 666 F.2d 403, 407 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 459 U.S. 879, 74 L. Ed. 2d 143, 103 S. Ct. 175 (1982) (same); see Italian Book Corp. v. American Broadcasting Companies, 458 F. Supp. 65, 70 (S.D.N.Y. 1978) (fair use generally sustained if defendant’s use not in competition with the copyrighted use). Under this principle, defendant’s use is more likely to be considered fair if it serves a different function than plaintiff’s.

In distributing the parody Falwell evidently meant to provoke the anger of his followers and to comment on the level of obscenity in the work.

The C.D. of California also pointed out portions of the Copyright Act’s legislative history, upon which a re-poster of a demand letter can rely:

The court discerns additional support for Falwell’s position in the legislative history to section 107. The House Report states: “When a copyrighted work contains unfair, inaccurate, or derogatory information concerning an individual or institution, the individual or institution may copy and re-produce such parts of the work as are necessary to permit understandable comment on the state-ments made in the work.” House Report, supra, at 73. It would thus be consistent with congressional intent to find that Falwell was entitled to provide his followers with copies of the parody in order effectively to give his views of the derogatory statements it contained.

Accordingly, when a law firm sends you a cease and desist letter accusing you of illegal activity, you can use that letter to provide your own supporters with copies of it in order to effectively give your own views on the issue — and to gather support for your cause. And… to make fun of that shit (because making fun of buffoons is classic fair use)

The legal landscape for I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY gets even more gloomy as we continue to read the Hustler case. The First Amendment rears her sexy pouty slutty face. (Yes, I want to bang Lady Liberty. Its a fetish. Constitutional cosplay anyone?)

First amendment considerations also enter into the court’s assessment of the purpose and character of defendants’ use. Although the first amendment does not provide a defense to copyright infringement, when an act of copying occurs in the course of a political, social or moral debate, the public interest in free expression is one factor favoring a finding of fair use. See Keep Thomson Governor Committee v. Citizens for Gallen Committee, 457 F. Supp. 957, 959-60 (D.N.H. 1978) (political committee’s use of a portion of rival candidate’s musical composition amounted to fair use in light of public interest in full debate over election and absence of injury to plaintiff). Cf. Robert Stigwood Group Limited v. O’Reilly, 346 F. Supp. 376, 383-84 (D. Conn. 1972), (priests’ un-authorized copying of rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” was not fair use where facts did not support defendants’ contention that their performance was counterattack to original’s “perverted” version of the Gospel), rev’d on other grounds, 530 F.2d 1096 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 848, 50 L. Ed. 2d 121, 97 S. Ct. 135 (1976).

Similarly, anyone who receives a cease and desist letter, from any lawyer (including me) can certainly claim that there is a debate at hand. Without the debate, there would be no complained-of statements or actions. It does not take Justice Brennan to see the First Amendment protection inherent in the republication of a demand letter in this context.

The purpose of copyright is to create incentives for creative effort. Even copying for noncommercial purposes may impair the copyright holder’s ability to obtain the rewards that Congress intended him to have. But a use that has no demonstrable effect upon the potential market for, or the value of, the copyrighted work need not be prohibited in order to protect the author’s incentive to create. The prohibition of such non-commercial uses would merely inhibit access to ideas without any countervailing benefit. Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, 104 S. Ct. 774, 793 (1984)

Under the “harm to the market for the original” prong of fair use, if the defendant’s use would tend to diminish sales of the plaintiffs work, then the factor can count against the defendant. However, that only applies if it would supplant the marketplace for the original. For example, if I copied a demand letter and used it as my own, then I might be committing copyright infringement. On the other hand, if I use the demand letter to ridicule the author, and the result of that ridicule is that consumers form the opinion that perhaps it would not not be a wise choice to select that lawyer to represent them, that is protected speech.

Let us return to Hustler v. Falwell:

The court has carefully considered all the evidence placed before it in light of the factors set out in section 107. It concludes that the “‘equitable rule of reason ‘ balance,” Sony Corp., 104 S. Ct. at 795, tilts sharply in favor of a finding of fair use. Any other result would mean applying the copyright laws in an inflexible manner and ignoring fundamental considerations of fairness. The ad parody was a satire about Falwell. He was entitled to use it as he did.

Exactly. The cease and desist is an instrument of attack upon the recipient. Any court that would find that this is copyright infringement should be reversed or impeached.

Okay counselor, but do you have a case that is exactly on point?

As a matter of fact, I do.

In Online Policy Group v. Diebold, the Northern District of California held that “fair use is not an infringement of copyright.” This is a slight tilt from the more common “fair use is an affirmative defense” logic. The N.D.Calif. held that the copying of the copyrighted materials (Diebold email archives) was so clearly fair use that “[n]o reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright.” The court in that case held that a DMCA notice and take down was defective and that the sender was liable for material misrepresentation. § 512(f) FTW.

Conclusion

In short, while this is not legal advice, I’d say that if you want to reproduce a cease and desist letter as an act of self-defense or criticism, you should feel comfortable that the fair use defense will back you up.

And if you are the author of a cease and desist letter, don’t write anything that you don’t want the entire world to see.

Bottom line, no court has ever held I DECLARE CONFIDENTIALITY to be valid, nor has any court supported the “DON’T MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE COPYRIGHT” position – but an undisturbed case, relying on mountains of precedent, refutes it.

Lena, meet Barbara.

Lena, meet Barbra.

So with that, here’s a really stupid demand letter from Lena Dunham’s attorneys. It isn’t just dumb because it tries the aforementioned tricks — but substantively, dood… really? You’re supposed to be a better lawyer than that.

Short version of the story: Lena Dunham wrote a book in which she arguably wrote about doing some sketchy shit with her little sister. Truth Revolt wrote about it. The quotes from the book back up the Truth Revolt article. Dunham got all snippy about it. (source)

Yeah, that was pretty fucking stupid.

Its not stupid that she did it. She was a child. Ok. I can live with that. Its not even stupid that she wrote about it. Respect to her. (Ok, not really, book sounds like a piece of shit) But, what the monkeys-eating-their-own-feces-fuck was she thinking in authorizing a law firm to make a stink about it? Stupid. Well, unless they had a meeting and said “hey, Lena, want us to totally fiddle-fuck you by making you look like an asshole? Well then, have we got a plan for you!” If that happened, then GENIUS!

This article constitutes confidential legal communication and may not be published in any manner.

(just kidding)


Woman Charged Under Revenge Porn Law – Oh, Shocker

October 22, 2014
No I wd not cuz I no wut im talking about, LOL thx bai.

No I wd not cuz I no wut im talking about, LOL thx bai.

I hate the whole revenge porn thing. Not just that people do it, but I hate talking about it. Why? Because the whole subject just attracts bullshit like tourists with fanny packs attract gypsies.

One of the biggest sources of bullshit it attracts is the MacKinnonite-Dworkinite “legal scholars.(1) That’s the wing of feminist “thought” that sees everything in terms of “its the girls against the boys, and the boys suck.” They all banded together to make revenge porn a “civil rights” issue, and a gender issue, most inconveniently failing to investigate the facts.

They tend to see this as “a thing men do to women.” Guess what. It ain’t.

Here is how they look at it:

In 2009, Professor Danielle Keats Citron published “Cyber Civil Rights,” arguing, for the first time, that we ought to understand and address cyber harassment as civil rights violations. In that article, she called for a cyber civil rights legal agenda to prevent, punish, and remedy bigoted online abuse that make equality in our digital age “more of a slogan than a reality.” As she documented, the Internet has “all too often reflected and reinforced the offline world’s power imbalances.” Cyber harassers “raise the price” women, sexual minorities, and other members of historically subordinated groups “have to pay to engage with others on- and offline by forcing them to suffer a destructive combination of threats, reputation-harming defamation aimed to interfere with their employment opportunities, privacy invasions, and denial-of-service attacks because of their gender, race, or sexual preference,” she explained. (source)

That was stupid then, and it is stupid now — the notion that online harassment is in any way more focused on anyone by virtue of their race or genitalia. That might have been the case back when there were no women on the Internet. But, even then. Monica Lewinsky claims to be “patient zero” with this shit, and who was her key tormentor? Linda fucking Tripp. And case after case after case shows that harassers are often women, and frankly, more of the serious cases are involving women doing the harassing.

That is in no way intended to mean that I believe that it is 180 degrees from what the “Cyber Civil Rights” idiots think. They’re 90 degrees off, not 180. If we kicked all men off the Internet for a year, I would not imagine that things would improve, at all. Trying to make this a gender issue might serve a publication agenda — because academia loves that shit — but that’s the only thing it serves. It sure as hell does not serve any quest for truth.

So with that as a backdrop, we find this. At least one journalist seems surprised that the first conviction under Virginia’s revenge porn law is a woman. As she is someone whose exposure to revenge porn is probably limited to reading a few stupid blog posts and press releases, coupled with the male stereotypes that she probably carries (fairly, I suppose), her surprise is not all that surprising.

But, when we look at what happened here, is anyone really surprised? News reports about the conviction describe the perpetrator’s motives in pretty familiar terms.

“Waynesboro Police Sergeant Brian Edwards said, “What was the intent of Ms. Craig for posting this? She considered the victim a romantic rival for this one individual’s affections and she said that she did it out of anger.” (source). See also (source)

Yes, there are dickless creeps (I refuse to call them “men”) out there who are behind revenge porn sites, and who distribute the crap. In fact, I’m confident saying that more than half of the perpetrators are dickless creeps. But, a pretty good chunk of them are women — exhibiting some pretty negative feminine type behavior — the whole “woman scorned” thing is a rotten stinky thing. And, just like some people exhibit really shitty behaviors, which are more likely when you have XY chromosomes, there are other really shitty behaviors that come with the ol’ XX model.

So, to answer this bubble headed “journalist”, I will say “No, No I am not surprised.” What I am surprised at is that anyone still buys this bullshit simple narrative of its “boys against the girls.”

That isn’t helpful.

And, I won’t accept the opposite either. Any commenters who say “yeah, it’s all the bitches” can go fuck themselves in advance.

Curing ignorance. It is not really in vogue, but lets give it a whirl, if you’re not too busy.

Update: This sums it up perfectly.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.15.40 PM

___________________
(1) For those of you who don’t know what that means, Andrea Dworkin and Katherine MacKinnon are legal scholars (I use the term loosely) who are alternately credited with the idiotic statement that “all heterosexual sex is rape.” While we are trying to dispel bullshit here, lets do that in all directions. Neither Katherine MacKinnon nor Andrea Dworkin ever actually said those words. The Straight Dope has a good summary of it — here, with links.


Mayer Brown, shame on you. (日本、ストライサンド効果へようこそ)

February 25, 2014

The offensive statue. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Wall, Ph.D. under a creative commons license.

The offensive statue.
Photo Courtesy of Melissa Wall, Ph.D. under a creative commons license.

Every law firm gets confronted (on a pretty regular basis) with the question: “should I put my name on this?

That soul searching comes into play when you wonder, “is this honorable?” You know when it is, and when it isn’t.

I’m not talking about representing a client that you know is guilty — they deserve a defense. I’m not talking about representing a really evil client — because there might be an important legal issue in play.

I’m talking about when you do something truly disgusting.

That bar is pretty low. Despite the lawyer jokes, I have encountered few lawyers who have ever even approached that line.

If a law firm takes on the Nazi party as a client, in furtherance of some greater good, I do not look down on them. Nobody should. Represent a child pornographer? I can see plenty of justification there. There is almost no cause that doesn’t have some justification.

But, sometimes you gotta say “no.” Or, at least if you say “yes,” you must do so with class and dignity.

For example, if you represent a child molester, that is ok. You take it on from the point of “I may not condone what my client did, but he has a right to a defense.” But, if you put in your pleadings “the kid had it coming to him, he just looked so fucking sexy in that altar boy outfit,” well then… you are a dishonorable and filthy-taint-licking-piece-of-shit.

Ok, got that? That is the bar you need to step over. It doesn’t take strong leg muscles.

I’m sort of disappointed that I have to draw that distinction for anyone. But, I come to you with proof that this lesson is actually necessary.

Mayer Brown brings you this masterpiece– a lawsuit where they are trying remove a memorial for World War II “comfort women” from a public park. You see, it “offends” some of their clients. The cause itself is a bit slimy, but how they’re going about it qualifies them as “the least honorable law firm in the world.

For those of you who do not know what the “comfort women” were — they were about 200,000 women (some say as many as 400,000) who were forced into working in whorehouses for Japanese soldiers during World War II. (source)

Many were abducted, and some were barely in their teens. “I was taken at the age of 11,” one former sex slave Kim Young-suk said.(source)

As you can imagine, these women were not terribly pleased with this treatment. And, wouldn’t you know it, but some of them are still all harping on the past.

The few surviving comfort women, all in their 80s and 90s, cry foul.

“I was walking along the side of the road when I was captured and taken away,” says Ok-Seon Yi.

It was 1942, and Japanese and Korean soldiers grabbed her and threw her in the back of a truck. Her family never knew what happened to her, she said, and gave her up for dead. She spent three years at a military brothel in China. She was 15.

She’s 87 now and lives in a home for survivors like her outside of Seoul. She’s tiny, with white hair, frail and quiet — until the subject turns to Japan.

She shakes her fist. “The Japanese government are thieves,” she says. “They’re trying to rewrite history.

“They have no right to take away my honor and dignity,” she adds.

She says she’s thankful for the memorials in the United States, and says America is the only country that can right the historic wrong. (source)

So in comes Mayer Brown to try and put and end to this outrage. Not the outrage of forcing a couple hundred thousand girls and women to suck the cocks of filthy imperial soldiers, mind you — but the atrocious conduct that happened in the City of Glendale, California. You see, the City of Glendale has done something awful — it put up a memorial to the “comfort women.”

“They were raped maybe 10 times a day. On weekends, as many as 40 to 50 times a day. The majority of them were teenagers,” says Phyllis Kim, who as part of Los Angeles’ Korean-American Forum helped bring the statue to Glendale. “There are victims who are still alive, and waiting for an apology.” (source)

This little statue does not sit well with… well, lets scratch our heads for a minute about that, shall we? Who are Mayer Brown’s “clients” in this lawsuit?

Two of the plaintiffs are Japanese-Americans who live in Glendale. The third plaintiff is an “organization” called “GAHT-US.”

Plaintiff GAHT-US Corporation (“GAHT-US”) is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. The purpose of GAHT-US is to provide accurate and fact-based educational resources to the public in the U.S., including within California and Glendale, concerning the history of World War II and related events, with an emphasis on Japan’s role. (Complaint at Para. 7)

Well, if we look for GAHT-US (The “Global Alliance for Historical Truth”), what do we find? We find that it is a corporation that someone created on February 6, 2014. After 14 days of legal existence, this lawsuit was GAHT-US’s first act — well after slapping up a web page.

This “Global Alliance’s” address is 1223 Wilshire Boulevard #613. That’s a UPS Store.

The world headquarters of GAHT-US

The world headquarters of GAHT-US

Ok, so with that illustrious organization out of the way, lets look at the two people that they managed to get to stand up for this noble cause…

As a Glendale resident of Japanese heritage, [Michiko Shiota Gingery] believes the Public Monument presents an unfairly one-sided portrayal of the historical and political debate surrounding comfort women…” (Complaint at 2).

The other Plaintiff, Koichi Mera, had similar gripes. I do see their point. I mean, on one side you have all these women who were kept in sexual slavery and essentially gang raped for 4-5 years. But, where is the side of the poor Japanese soldiers who had to fuck them? What of them? Have you ever had to fuck a woman who was captive and crying? I mean, think of it? Those poor Japanese rapist soldiers. The fact that nobody thinks of the other side in this discussion is really distressing. Bravo, Mayer Brown, Bravo.

Additionally, the Plaintiffs are upset because the monument offends them. They “would like to use Glendale’s Central Park,” but they now avoid the park because they are offended by the Public Monument’s pointed expression of disapproval of Japan and the Japanese people.(Complaint at 2, 4)

Guess what? I bet the City of Glendale actually loves Japan and the Japanese People. Aside from the fact that they seem to have a disproportionately large number of scat porn enthusiasts (second only to Germany), and this little “comfort women” thing, the Japanese are a-ok by me. For fucks’ sake, they gave us Godzilla. After being the only country to ever get nuked into the stone age, they staggered around for about 18 months, and then they kicked the entire world’s ass at technology, amassing wealth and power on a level that it took 17 Italians to equal the productivity and innovation of one Japanese high school girl with a Hello Kitty purse.

But yes, we all have our blemishes — and government-organized mass rape is a pretty bad one.

So if the consequence of such a sick-as-fuck act is that there’s a bronze statue in the corner of some obscure park 10,000 miles from the nearest piece of Japanese territory, I think that’s pretty fair.

Ok, so their clients are offended and rich, (I presume the rich part). The complaint has at least some rational points. They seem frivolous, but not completely off the wall. One part of the complaint discusses how this memorial interferes with the foreign relations between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. (Complaint at 14). I’m not saying it is a supportable argument, as Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312 (1988) seems to dispense with the key point here. In that case, a D.C. ordinance sought to suppress speech that might chafe foreign powers. This is a little different, since it is private citizens trying to suppress governmental speech, but the core of the matter is the same — smooth foreign relations are not a sufficient justification to suppress speech.

The complaint also makes one rational argument –That the monument went in without the proper procedure being followed before the Glendale City Council. (Complaint at 16). I have to agree with this one (if it is true) — cities should not be engaging in ultra vires acts. And, the complaint could have made those arguments, stating that the complaint was brought reluctantly. Or, just lay off the victims, but make the dull legal points.

But no.

No.

Instead, Mayer Brown put its name to gems like this:

During World War II and the decade leading up to it, an unknown number of women from Japan, Korea, China, and a number of nations in Southeast Asia, were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners for troops of the Japanese Empire in various parts of the Pacific Theater of war. These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute. (Complaint at Para. 14) (emphasis added)

You know… “whores.” They just “acted as sexual partners.”

I mean, lets just call them what they really were, BATTLE SLUTS!!!

Right now, my face is figuratively bright red and in searing pain from the epic facepalming that I am imagining doing to myself.

The complaint reads like a who’s who of hypocritical trash. Yoshikazu Noda, the poor mayor of Higashiosaka, Glendale’s sister city is quoted as saying that the installation of the monument was an extremely deplorable situation and the people of Higashiosaka are hurt at a decision made by [Glendale] city to install a comfort woman monument.” (Complaint at Para. 38).

Awwww… does it hurt, Noda? Can you describe the pain? Is it anything like being kidnapped, and then being raped repeatedly, every day, for four or five years? Does it hurt like that? Or just like when you step on a Lego brick in the middle of the night — because that, I tell you, absolutely fucking smarts.

The Plaintiffs want the monument removed and kept off of any and all public property in Glendale, and of course, they want money. (Complaint at 17).

I will give them some credit — at least the complaint did not call for all the remaining comfort women to be rounded up and shipped off to Manzanar.

Despite that small bit of tactful omission, I have never seen anything this dishonorable with a law firm’s name attached to it. I’ve seen dumber shit. I’ve seen more frivolous shit. I’ve seen more unethical shit. But, never seen anything this foul or shameful with a law firm’s name attached to it.

The silver lining in this? Mayer Brown’s abject stupidity and dishonorable behavior will bring their clients into complete disrepute (which they deeply deserve), and will educate more people than ever on the history of the “comfort women.” The “comfort women” have already won this battle – and they aren’t even really on the field.

Don’t let the bastards get you down, “Comfort Women”… Mayer Brown just made your critics into complete laughingstocks.

UPDATE: Looks like Popehat is pissed off about it too

I have written about many maddening lawsuits at Popehat. But I cannot remember a lawsuit that so immediately repulsed and enraged me. (source)


Temple of Sweetness

February 11, 2014

By Tatiana von Tauber

1933, child actress Shirley Temple

1933, child actress Shirley Temple

I grew up watching Shirley Temple as a child. I bet you did too. While we age and time runs from us, death of great icons really bring us something to be grateful for, to see our lives differently or to realize just how someone affected you, more powerfully than you knew. Shirley Temple did that for me. I’m so grateful to be of age where I will remember the sweetness of her childhood song and dance etched into my inner child. She simply brought pleasure to millions through an innocence that is lost so quickly among our girls.

I was born in Czechoslovakia and Shirley Temple’s position as US Ambassador to Czechoslovakia made her especially dear to my heart. I grew up in Miami in a predominately Latino community and in my neighborhood nobody heard of Czechoslovakia. “Checka-who?” In fact, I specifically recall my 4th grade teacher spelling it “Checkoslovakia”.

So, when the Czechoslovakian government fell in 1989, my birth country was finally in the news and in my mind, on the map. When Shirley Temple took ambassadorship, however, I felt especially proud. She added a magical quality of representation to this country no one seemed to know during my youth – and everyone knew Shirley Temple. And, it wasn’t so much that Temple was famous as was the fact that her presence, her history, her movies made people feel a sense of joy. Joy is good!

However, what Temple has achieved in her adult life is far more impressive than her child star success and her legacy extends far beyond her child star image.

Shirley Temple’s life achievements include:

- Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia

- First female Chief of Protocol of the United States

- Acting as Representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly

As a native Czechoslovakian turned American citizen, what an honor it was to have Shirley Temple act as a liaison between two lands that I love. More importantly, Temple was a graceful, feminine and intelligent role model to many women and little girls. Sadly, culture has moved us to Honey-Boo-boo, a poor quality child star. We can do better, can’t we? I think a little sweetness in little girls is just fine to nurture. Shirley Temple is a fantastic symbol to what little girl sweetness can become!

 


Knox. Knox. No Justice There.

January 31, 2014

By Tatiana von Tauber

What do you think of this Amanda Knox story?

I watched her interview here . It’s moving. I’ve been following the case for years and I empathize as sometimes facts lead to conclusions which create illusion, not truth and it is here we discover the depth of trust (and fault), in ourselves and our systems.

What is justice? Truly, at what level can another human being say “this person deserves x, y or z for punishment” and call it a day? Who is satisfied? What or whom does that “justice” affect and what is its effect? Will our community be better off with someone like Amanda in jail so we are safer or are we merely seeking justice built on what we believe a victim’s life is worth because it’s socially demanded we punish those who kill?

If Amanda Knox did aid in murder, has her emotional turmoil and years already spent in prison – in the battle for her freedom – not counted as “time served in prison” if prison is defined as a place of punishment? Has her particular suffering not counted as anything at all? For the Italian court to accuse Amanda Knox of guilt after innocence, and weigh a hefty 28 year term on her is so striking I feel violated and I’m just a spectator!

Let’s face it, society places value on murders. They happen all the time. Every day.  Why is the destruction of Knox’s life more important than the destruction of yesterday’s murderer? And what about tomorrow’s murderer? What is jail for? Is it a place to make another person suffer for their pain onto another or is it a holding cell to keep the rest of us safer? What factors determine when it’s both? Or is jail a place where we feel, as a society, a sense of accomplishment in that we are doing what we’re supposed to do to “bad people”? Is there hope to rehabilitate or only institutionalize?

I don’t know if Amanda is guilty or not. I do know that I find her to have suffered a good deal for the circumstances upon which she found herself. There’s a point where another human being should suffer for murder (Hitler comes to mind) and then there’s a point where another human being should be given reprieve when being played with like a pawn in a game and having clearly suffered through an aftermath of such accusation. How is 28 years more of prison time a case of justice served at this point in time?

Amanda Knox presents herself very authentically. Maybe she is faking it but to imprison her for another 28 years for a crime that’s been tainted is a crime onto itself. It is way too harsh and unreasonable. Consider that killing the enemy in war constitutes as justified murder – freedom fighting we call it – but Knox’s situation demands almost three more decades of her life? From an innocent verdict to “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”?  Should this be the perfect case of “let it go”?

Life gets complicated when you discover that human beings have varied value and thus death isn’t the most atrocious thing we can do onto another.  The freedom we are given should never, ever be taken lightly as that option for choice is always at risk of being taken from others. I commend Knox’s ability to stay so vigilant with her freedom at hand and it’s terrible to have freedom handed to you like a toy to jump for.

For Italy, home of the Vatican, to not be an example of forgiveness in the light of tainted investigations (and prior innocent verdict!) certainly seems in line with the church’s very own hypocritical philosophy. Italy should have risen above common human nature of reaction. Punishing Knox will do absolutely nothing to bring back the victim, show or teach a lesson that hasn’t already been shown or taught, nor will it contribute to Knox’s potential good, to which I believe Knox is capable of expressing given the opportunity.

By demanding to lock her up further, Italy has shown an example not of justice but “murder to the spirit”. Knox, if imprisoned, would be as lifeless as the victim in the sense that neither could flourish, live a life to better themselves or others and nor contribute to the world through the good that is within them because they weren’t given a chance. One loss of life is enough but when grounds are not certain, why not give benefit of the doubt and rise above human weakness? Sometimes bad things happen and while time is the best healer (and eye-opener), it’s best to move on quickly to weave those experiences into new creations. Give people a chance. Justice is a human construct and in the case of Knox, justice begs for reinterpretation.

Amanda Knox interview: (http://gma.yahoo.com/amanda-knox-39-couldn-39-t-believe-hearing-071851472–abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1)


First Amendment vs. Disabilities Act

May 12, 2013

(From Charles Platt) Is this a real threat, or just posturing? The ADA has already been extended far beyond the areas in which is was first designed to apply. I can certainly imagine regulations compelling web sites to be “equally accessible” to the disabled. Discussion here.


Talking to your kids about gay marriage

December 10, 2012

I used to have neighbors in Flori-duh, whose argument (to me anyhow) against gay marriage was “what am I supposed to tell my kids?

Louis CK had a funny reply to that.

“It doesn’t have ANY effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it’s a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say ‘How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married?’ I dunno, it’s your shitty kid, you fuckin’ tell ‘em. Why is that anyone else’s problem? Two guys are in LOVE but they can’t get married because YOU don’t want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin’ minutes?”

The issue came up with my daughter, yesterday. Age 4.

She asked what I was reading. I told her, “an article about a Supreme Court case” – 5 questions later, and it was time to make something up, or just tell her, and see if she got it.

I brought up one couple we know who are legally married (and happen to be my son’s “godfathers”). I told her “they are married, like mama and daddy, because they love each other.”

“Oh” she said.

I then told her about our cousin and his boyfriend of 25 years – who we also refer to as “cousin.” I said “they love each other just as much, but they are not allowed to get married, because they live in Las Vegas, which is in Nevada.”

“Oh. That’s not fair.”

There… conversation had. That wasn’t so hard.

I’m glad that my four year old understands the Equal Protection Clause better than some judges. When the gay marriage cases come before the Supreme Court, I’ll be impressed if Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas are able to show as much intellect and wisdom as a girl who thinks that Santa Claus is a member of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,102 other followers