Our “right to be forgotten” online.

May 14, 2014

Marc Randazza’s article on CNN regarding Google’s defeat in the European High Court, which requires it to remove links to outdated information that is not a matter of public interest when asked to do so by the subject of those links.


Arresting Children

May 13, 2014

Apropos to this morning’s poast. Vice article on how common it is to arrest kids in America.


The twisted path of justice

May 13, 2014

On May 10, Italian Carabinieri responded to a call Telse Terme, Italy (just inland from Naples) from a grocery store owner. Two women had just absconded with two packages of hamburger meat.

The women explained that they stole the meat because they were broke, had four young children, and nothing to eat. The Carabinieri, after listening to the story, paid the grocer for the hamburger and moved on to deal with real crimes. (source)

Holy mother of fucking god.  The Shogun Burger!

Holy mother of fucking god. The Shogun Burger!

It is ironic that this story came across my screen today, as just today I was eating a $26 hamburger at lunch (instead of lettuce and onions, it had sea eel and foie gras on it) and told the story of my short career as a prosecutor.

Yes, I worked as a prosecutor.

For one day.

It was a long time ago, in a shithole called Ocala, Florida. It was an externship during my visiting year at the University of Florida, and it was supposed to be the last 6 credits of my law school career. Cruise through four months of this, and then off to the big-salary firm job already waiting for me.

It would be great experience.

Perhaps fun even.

Real live “being a lawyer” experience! You know, like professors often don’t even have.

On the way in to my first day, I was listening to NPR, and a story came on the radio about how juveniles fared in adult prison. As I remember the program, to which I was not listening very intently, 50% of them would die in prison. 100% of them would be raped. I don’t know if the stats are correct. Like I said, I wasn’t listening that carefully. It might have just been about one facility. It doesn’t really matter.

I walked into the office, waved on by men in badges who saw me as a new guy on their team. I sat down at my desk, and was given my very first file. I started to fill in a form. I have forgotten the name of the perpetrator, but I will never forget the name of the “victim.”

Wal-Mart Corporation.

The perpetrator had committed the dastardly act of shoplifting. She stole maternity clothes. She was 16 years old. She was pregnant. She had prior arrests, so I couldn’t just let it go. Her priors? I shit you not – stealing medicine from a drug store and stealing food from a supermarket.

All three times she got caught. All three times she got arrested. Who knows, maybe she got away with 100 other crimes. But she had three arrests, and reading the reports made me want to lock someone up, but it sure was not the “perpetrator.”

I sat there staring at the forms. I didn’t want to move. I just sat there and asked myself “what the fuck am I doing here?

Juvenile convicts, 1903.

Juvenile convicts, 1903.

Then my supervisor busted into my office. “Hey, come on down here, there’s a hearing.” This was going to be exciting. “We’re trying to get these two guys put in adult prison. Violent offenders. Real bad guys.”

We went over to the courthouse, and there were two 15 year old boys on a monitor. They were arrested for bashing a guy over the head with a tequila bottle.

They were not sympathetic characters. In fact, they were awful monsters. There was a guy out there with half a tequila bottle buried in his head. They thought it was funny. My supervisor argued to the judge that they should be put in with the adult population, meanwhile the boys looked disinterestedly around while on closed circuit TV. They were either too stupid or too uninformed to have a clue what was happening to them.

Then I started thinking about the NPR story. Was I remembering the details right? Was it really 100% would be sexually abused? Nah, that’ couldn’t be right. Maybe it was 50%. In any event, there I was calculating the odds as to whether something I was involved in would result in one or both of these boys dying, or being turned into someone’s fuck toy.

There was a 100% chance that I felt like a piece of shit right then.

After the hearing, I went back to my office and saw the file staring up at me.

Victim: Wal Mart Corporation.

I sat there until 5:00, staring out the window. Then I went home.

The next morning, I went in to the office and quit. My supervisor was incredulous at first. I told her that I knew that this likely meant that I wouldn’t graduate — at least not that semester. I told her that I just couldn’t do that particular job. I explained to her that I understood that someone had to lock these criminals up. I explained that yeah, society might fall apart if everyone just takes what they want from a store. Yeah, one of those 15 year old tequila-bottle wielding psychopaths might bash my mom over the head at an ATM machine one day. Someone had to be a prosecutor.

But it sure as shit didn’t have to be me.

I walked out of that place, pretty sure that I had just fucked myself pretty hard. But, I had to live with myself. I was not going to be part of that.

Of course, I’m sure they found some willing person to take over. I’m sure that Little Miss “Perpetrator” got prosecuted anyway. So, did I change anything? I guess not.

But maybe if that “Perpetrator” had gotten a little compassion like these Carabinieri gave to the two mothers… maybe if that was the typical reaction. Where is the real “crime” when someone doesn’t have enough to eat? Why the hell didn’t everyone involved stand up and say “no, this is not justice“? You know, like everyone stood up and said “I am Spartacus!” If a bunch of slaves could do it, why the hell can’t an entire office full of prosecutors do it?

When a pregnant 16 year old girl needs fucking maternity clothes and the only way she can get them is by stealing them, where is the real crime?

Call me a socialist if you want, but there is no way in hell that a 16 year old pregnant girl who has to steal maternity clothes from Wal-Mart is a “criminal.” And, when you are in a nice suit and $800 shoes, calculating whether your actions will result in two boys dying or being raped beyond recognition, you’re doing something wrong.

I was proud of myself for quitting. I realized that I probably didn’t change anything, and there was no “Jerry Maguire moment” where anyone followed me out the door. But, if nobody says “I will not” then we certainly can’t ever get to “everybody.”

Of course, I was now screwed.

Epilogue:

The next day, I walked into the Dean’s office. I explained the situation. The rules said that I was fucked. No graduation for me this semester. It was February, and there was no way I could graduate until the summer, at best. A year’s worth of income, and a lucrative offer from a law firm went plop, plop, fizz, fizz, flush… right into the crapper.

I was bummed, but I still thought it was worth it.

The Dean and I talked for a bit, and he came up with an idea. There was a class in the business school that counted for law school credit, and since they were on a different calendar, it hadn’t started yet. He could get me into that for three credits. He then volunteered to let me do an independent study paper for him for another three. That way, I could graduate on time.

You see, there were rules. But there was also “justice.” The rules yielded and the right thing happened. At least for me. Not so much for the poor kids in Ocala whose files I left on my desk. No, for them, rules was rules.

FINALLY this boring fucking story gets interesting!

FINALLY this boring fucking story gets interesting!

I’m way too fucking cynical to let my readers end there though. Happy endings and shit. Happy endings are for Spielberg movies and shady massage parlors.

A few years later, that same Dean wound up getting arrested for some really creepy crimes — he was on some pedophile chat boards, giving guys advice on how to drug their kids before raping them. He also apparently had a stash of child porn. He wound up pleading no contest and got two years house arrest and eight years probation. (source)

I have no idea what ever became of the girl who stole the maternity clothes or the two boys who went to adult prison for bashing the guy’s head in with a tequila bottle.

But it does feel weird that I owe at least part of my career to a pedo, whom I never would have even met, but for that unnamed 16 year old girl who stole maternity clothes. And, who (despite his pedo thing) seemed to have at least some sense of justice.

Grazie a Carlo per l’ispirazione


Today on the lost privacy wire…

May 12, 2014

If you try and keep a handle on your privacy online, that makes the NSA think you’re suspicious. (source)


“Baldwin’s Nigger”

May 12, 2014

I usually wouldn’t post a video of such a length. But, if you find yourself with 43 minutes to spare, you really should listen to this lecture by James Baldwin and Dick Gregory in 1969. Even if you disagree with what they have to say, your mind will be larger once you do watch/listen.

H/T to Connolly for bringing this to my attention.


Want to know what Ancient Greek music sounded like?

May 12, 2014

Then click here.  


If you are watching other people have fun, while hurting nobody else, and it bothers you, then you are the douchebag

May 10, 2014

I think that is sorta the definition of a douchebag. Ok, or it is one of the definitions of a douchebag.

You know, you look at two people who are totally into each other. They want to be happy and to just go get married or just fuck each other for fun, or whatever. Nobody is getting hurt. Everyone involved is having a grand old time.

Except you — the spectator.

If it bothers you, then don’t watch.

This sorta sums it up, at least in the gay marriage context.

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 2.04.12 PM

Or maybe this sums it up even better:

Jennifer Rambo and Kristin Seaton, the first gay married couple in Arkansas history.  (Photo credit http://instagram.com/p/n0jnraAOE4)

Jennifer Rambo and Kristin Seaton, the first gay married couple in Arkansas history. (Photo credit http://instagram.com/p/n0jnraAOE4)

There is an even better photo of them here at an article about their big win in Arkansas.

If that bothers you… if those smiles and that joy makes you scowl, there really is something wrong with you. The Arkansas Family Council, I’m looking at you. I just can’t fathom how anyone, anywhere, could look at these two girls and say “y’all shouldn’t be together, because reasons.”

And I promise, I’d be saying that even if they weren’t hot. Which they are. Which is irrelevant. But, hey… hot. Happy. Yay.

And nobody has any business scowling, bitching, or trying to deny them their right to be happy.

Here’s another place where this lesson comes into play:

Yeah, a little less serious and historically significant. I will give you that. But, wouldn’t someone having a problem with this be just like the assholes at the Arkansas Family Council?

Yes, that’s some guys getting giggling girls to sit on a sybian in public, ostensibly to raise money for an organization that fights female genital mutilation. The guys certainly are enjoying it. The charity, I presume will enjoy the money. The girls are clearly enjoying it. So who is mad, bro?

Oh, who else?

Scowling harpy second-wave feminists.

Jezebel looks at that video the way that The Westboro Baptist Church looks at Adam & Steve having the most fabulous wedding ever. There is no fucking way that this is okay, and I’m offended, so insert scowl here. Jezzie brings us “Douchebags Film Women Riding Sex Toy ‘To Fight Female Circumcision’” (source)

The scowling harpies bring us this conclusion:

But as long as asking people to do sex-stuff on camera in public probably for my own enjoyment is okay as long as it’s “for charity” — Would any of them eat my asshole in front of their mothers in exchange for a $1000 donation to an organization that vaccinates children in third world countries against polio? It’s for charity! How about giving an anonymous male stranger a hand job through a curtain in exchange for me giving $500 to an anti-AIDS charity? Would they let a monkey perform a prostate exam on them if I promised to donate a sizable amount to a prostate cancer charity? (source)

The answer?

Yes. It is okay.

If you want to ask every guy walking by to eat someone’s asshole in front of their mother for charity, and they agree, and enjoy themselves, then who the hell is anyone else to judge. Ok, well, there would probably be some public indecency laws violated there, so it might not be okay with everyone. But, handjob through the curtain? Why not? If the jacker and jackee are both happy, why would anyone else have fuckall to say about it?

So what’s the moral of the story?

For fucking chrissakes, can’t we live in a society where we see other people happy and we just smile about it? I can see getting worked up if they’re smiling about dumping toxic waste in your yard. I can see getting worked up about it if they’re happy about slapping you in the face with a tire iron. But, short of that, maybe if we could all just say “fuck it, they look happy, what do I care?” we might be a bit better off.


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