"We’d been having a sort of tacit conversation about it for a couple years. Then one day, his sister, who already knew, was teasing him about having a crush on a boy at school. And I heard him say: ‘Well, maybe it’s true!’ So I said: ‘Son, we’ve never really talked about this. Are you gay?’ And even though he was 6’4”, he came over to me, curled up in my lap and just sobbed and sobbed. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, actually.”
LTMC: I love that fact that HONY is one of the most emotionally evocative websites on the internet, and it does so by simply letting ordinary people tell their stories. It invigorates the old saying, “be kind to all, for every one you meet is fighting a great battle.”
A News anchor for RT quits live on the air over the network’s coverage of Russia’s military action in the Ukraine.
If you are a fan of House of Cards, and want to know how close it is to actual establishment politics, this article is for you.
Upskirt photos are now totally legal, says disgusting MA court ruling
March 5, 2014
Today in disgusting, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that it’s totally legal to take upskirt photos on public transit. Provided that the victim is wearing underwear.
LTMC: Shocking as this seems on its face, legally speaking, the Court made the correct decision. The law is poorly written, and needs to be updated to cover this type of behavior.
The problem with the law lies in the definitions section. As the article suggests, one of the elements of the offense requires the victim to be “partially nude,” which is defined in a very specific way:
Section 105. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Partially nude”, the exposure of the human genitals, buttocks, pubic area or female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola.
As a matter of basic logic, you could obviously make the argument that when a person tries to take upskirt photos, the victim is de facto partially nude. But the definitions section of the law forecloses this possibility, because the legislature gave “partially nude” a very specific definition. As written, it only includes “exposure of the human genitals, buttocks, pubic area or female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola." This is how you get the legally absurd result that a person could violate the law if their victim isn’t wearing underwear, but can’t violate the law if the victim is wearing underwear.
It’s pretty easy for the legislature to fix this by just changing the definitions section of the law so that “partially nude” embraces people in the situations mentioned above. It does have to be the legislature that does that, though, since the Courts don’t have the power to change a law simply because it’s poorly written.
Gawker recently published a letter from Ray Jasper, a death row inmate who was convicted of killing a man named David Mendoza Alejandro. David’s brother, Steven, then published a response to Ray’s letter, which, as you can imagine, casts the contents of Ray’s letter in a decidedly less positive light.
As I was reading through Steven’s letter, several things jumped out at me. First, there was this passage, about when Steven testified at trial regarding his brother David:
After I was sworn in and sat in the chair, the prosecutor handed me a picture of David. It was a postmortem picture. It was a close up of David’s face from the neck up. His eyes still open. The gash from Jasper’s knife visible. I let out a gasp and when the Prosecutor asked me what the picture was of I told him, “it’s my brother, David.” Through tearful testimony, I tried my best to bring my brother back to life in that courtroom. When I got off the stand I reached for my father’s embrace and sobbed as I had never before and have not since.
This is a good example of how prosecutors manipulate the emotions of witnesses in order to inflame the jury. Here is a guy whose brother was recently killed, and the prosecutor, with zero scruples whatsoever, shows the witness a photograph of his brother’s freshly murdered corpse. The prosecutor then proceeds to ask him to talk about his brother while holding the same gruesome photo of his brother’s corpse in his hand. This is outrageous conduct by the prosecutor. There was absolutely no legally compelling reason whatsoever to show Steven a picture of his brother’s murdered corpse. But the prosecutor did it anyway. Because he knew it would upset Steven and make him an emotional mess on the stand. That of course, would make the jurors more likely to convict based on emotion, rather than the evidence.
Another part of the letter that jumped out at me was Steven’s vacillation over the death penalty. When the defense called him to the stand, they tried to get him to testify that he was opposed to the Death Penalty, but he refused to admit it, even though he actually does oppose the Death Penalty. David wrote the following after recounting his testimony:
After everything, I’m still opposed to the death penalty. I have no intention of witnessing Jasper’s execution but I have no intention of fighting to stop it either. Does this make me a hypocrite? Maybe, but that’s for me to live with. I harbor no illusions that Jasper’s ceasing to exist will ameliorate the pain I feel daily from the loss of David. The truth is I rarely think of Jasper or the other defendants. I think of David more. Those thoughts are more important to me than anything else. Certainly more important than any last statement from Ray Jasper. Though I purposefully skipped reading Jasper’s statement, I did read through the comments. I have to say to my fellow death penalty opponent friends: Keep up your fight. It is an honorable one. But do not use this man, Ray Jasper, as your spokesperson, as your example of why the death penalty should be abolished. The death penalty should be abolished because it is wrong to kill another human being. Not because a Medical Examiner said your knife wound did not cause immediate death. Ray Jasper is not worthy of your good and kind hearts. He has never accepted culpability or expressed remorse. He is responsible for viciously ending the life of “the nicest man he ever met.” Responsible for ending the life of the nicest man my family ever met, David Mendoza Alejandro.
As the family member of a murder victim, Steven Alejandro is certainly entitled to feel whatever way he feels about his brother’s death, and about Ray Jasper’s fate. But I think he’s making a categorical error in reasoning when he tells us that it’s wrong to kill another human being, and also says that Ray Jasper is not worthy of our good and kind hearts.
There are two types of arguments against the Death Penalty. One of them is procedural, and the other is ethical. The procedural argument against the Death Penalty is that human beings are flawed, and thus, so are human institutions. Even if we agree that some people deserve to die, the State is incapable of reliably making those determinations. So procedurally, the Death Penalty can never be effectively implemented without an intolerable risk of injustice.
The ethical argument against the Death Penalty is different. The ethical argument claims that even if we could reliably determine the guilt of persons accused of Capital Crimes, the Death Penalty should still be abolished, because all human beings have fundamental human dignity and inherent value. Nobody is capable of forfeiting their inherent value through their actions or omissions. As Steven Alejandro said in his letter, “The death penalty should be abolished because it is wrong to kill another human being,” i.e. it is wrong no matter what the circumstances. Even if the person you are killing has murdered someone you care about.
That’s the fundamental difference between someone who supports the Death Penalty, and someone who wants it abolished on ethical grounds. A person who wants the Death Penalty abolished needs to be able to look the killer of a loved one in the eye with a straight face, and say “you don’t deserve to die.” It is certainly difficult to maintain this conviction when faced with the violent loss of a loved one. And it is completely understandable that a person’s conviction might flag when a prosecutor is manipulating your emotions on the stand.
But it is wrong to say that you oppose the Death Penalty, while also stating that the people most likely to benefit from abolishing it (e.g. Ray Jasper) are not worth the good and kind heart of abolitionists. Ray Jasper is a far more realistic version of the type of people who will benefit most from Death Penalty abolition than the unspoken alternative Steven Alejandro has in mind. Indeed, Jasper does not seem to be the same selfish, violent 19-year old that participated in the robbery and murder of Steven Alejandro’s brother, demonstrating that even murderers are not beyond change and redemption. But even if this wasn’t true, Jasper would still be an acceptable spokesperson for Death Penalty abolition. If the ethical argument against the Death Penalty doesn’t hold up in Ray Jasper’s case, then it really doesn’t hold up at all.
Discharge Petition #14 Filed by Oscar De Priest Regarding H. Res. 236, a Resolution to Prevent Discrimination, 01/24/1934 - 03/05/1934
Item from Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. (04/01/1789 -)
This resolution and discharge petition from Representative Oscar De Priest, a Republican from Illinois, attempted to end racial discrimination in the House of Representatives’ Restaurant. De Priest introduced H. Res. 236 to the House, which called for the creation of a special committee to investigate the House Restaurant’s refusal to serve two African Americans, one of whom was a member of his staff. When the resolution stalled in the Rules Committee, De Priest successfully used a discharge petition to move the bill out and onto the House floor.
Don’t forget to check out the National Archives’ future exhibition “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” opening to the public on March 21, 2014!
Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom."
— Ray Jasper, Texas death row inmate who will be executed this month.
One of the more frightening prospects about America’s wars overseas is how many war crimes are committed that we’ll never hear about. Here’s a veteran recalling his experiences overseas, from HONY:
"It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hypervigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East."
"What were some traumatic things that happened to you?"
"I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it.”
"We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits."
"How many times did you see that happen?"
When people are placed in inhumanly stressful situations, they can succumb to their darker influences and do terrible things. But whether you view the soldiers who commit these terrible acts as evil or victims of circumstance, it remains true that America’s political discourse sanitizes this reality with the language of patriotism. There is a brand of hero worship associated with soldiers that plays a role in covering these stories up. The idea that all soldiers are heroes makes it harder for us to acknowledge that some of our “heroes” are actually committing war crimes, and they should be held accountable, not praised for their service.
- freebroccoli asked:What did you mean, that "works of Ayn Rand" are "not technically libertarian"? Or were you referring exclusively to Orwell in that remark?
Ayn Rand was personally extremely clear that she was not a libertarian. For example, she said:
[Libertarians] are not defenders of capitalism....
Bar is in two days.
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Two rich economies, relatively similar in structure, reacted very differently to the global financial shock of late 2008. In America output sank...”
- “Please have no leniency on me. To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor you could give me.”—
Megan Rice, the 84-year-old...
- I think that makes it the 7th 'banker' suicide in a week or so, doesn't it?
- so we finished Angel last night
Spoilers abound, obviously.
Oh my goodness I have no idea what to say. The last few episodes were all over the...