The Alabama House and Senate have passed a measure which, if adopted by the voters in a 2012 referendum, would remove Jim Crow era racist language from the state Constitution, regarding segregation of schools and a poll tax. These sections of the state Constitution are already ineffective due to federal law. A similar measure was passed in 2004, but also included a change to property taxes, and was rejected by voters.
In a bizarre turn of events, the amendment was widely rejected by the state's black lawmakers. None of the state's 7 black senators voted in favor of it.
Representative Alvin "From Germany?!" Holmes said it was a "feel-good bill for white lawmakers," a "con game on the black people of Alabama," and that "[sponsor Arthur Orr] hasn't done anything for black people in the state."
The Constitutional Daily Ethics Committee has been hard at work investigation a very serious claim: the latest article by Bitter Lawyer contributor Matthew Richardson appears to be little more than a take on an old story by Tucker Max.
In his recently released Primetime Propeganda, Harvard Law grad Ben Shapiro covers what most of us already know to be true, that Hollywood, both on TV and in film, has an intense liberal bias.
Avatar portrayed capitalists as heartless, money-hungry, nature destroyers (and all white). The free clinic on House conveys the message that anyone should have access to the best doctors and medicine, regardless of insurance or ability to pay, and that doctors ought to be conscripted into providing that service. Battlestar Galactica had a plot line that was a not-so-subtle swipe at Gitmo and extraordinary rendition (though, we think the human suicide bomber bit was just because it's such an interesting idea, and not an attempt to side with terrorists). Modern Family, Glee, and America's Next Great Restaurant aren't even subtle in their messages.
The most recent show with a strong conservative angle,The Chicago Code, with it's pro-police theme (and a politically incorrect corrupt black politician as the villain) was canceled after one season.
Much of the bias is only slightly objectionable though. Creative artists have always infused their work with political and social messages, and should be allowed to do so. Where Shapiro's book really gets into the nitty gritty is the de facto blackballing of conservative actors and other talent.
For example, Bruce Patrow refused to cast Dwight Shultz (of The A-Team and Star Trek: The Next Generation) on St. Elsewhere, because Shultz was a fan of Ronald Reagon. About the casting decision, Patrow said "There's not going to be a Reagan asshole on this show!"
Political sympathies aren't a protected class, nor do we think the government should make it one. But, at the same time, we find no problem in exposing such discrimination.
Shapiro's complaints about shows having political messages is a bit whiny. Let the artists say whatever they want to say. But, Shapiro did come across one content choice we found very compelling:
Whites constitutie about 30% of the prison population, but are 60% of the criminals shown on COPS. In an interview with Shapiro, COPS creator John Langley defended Hollywood against accusations of portraying minorities in a negative light by stating that he intentionally over represented white criminals, in an effort to fight negative stereotypes about minorities.
Imagine if he wanted to fight stereotypes about poor whites, that they're all wife-beating, meth-smoking, gun-toting, drunk rednecks. And, to fight that stereotype he showed a disproportionately small number of whites being arrested, necessarily increasing the number of minorities arrested on the show.
In a punishment that we hope is a subtle homage to the opening sequence of The Simpsons, a Malaysian man has been sentenced to issuing an apology 100 times on Twitter over a three day period.
Fahmi Fadzil, a social activist, has just over 4500 Twitter followers, but there's a good chance the sentence will backfire, and news of the odd punishment will cause the ranks of his followers to swell.
He is currently on apology 23:
23/100 I've DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize
Contrariwise, it's possible that his followers will be annoyed with the spam, hurting Fadzil, but simultaneously causing the apology to reach fewer ears.
Three police officers in Baltimore detained and harassed a man for more than 40 minutes over the offense of taking pictures of trains.
After the man boarded a train to continue on his way to Penn Station, MTA police followed him, and upon arriving at an Amtrak terminal, the MTA police got the Amtrak police involved, who disagreed with the MTA about the illegality of photographing trains.
He caught nearly the entire incident on video, and the MTA officers can be heard citing homeland security concerns, and sections of the Patriot Act:
Listen, listen to what I’m saying. The Patriot Act says that critical infrastructure, trains, train stations, all those things require certain oversight to take pictures, whether you say they are for personal use or whatever, that’s your story.
Granted, no one has actually read the Patriot Act, so it's not like we can say with any confidence that this isn't in there, but given little things like Google Maps and the zillion YouTube videos taken on trains, it's pretty unlikely that there's a crime being committed here.
On the other hand, terrorists are well known for their meticulously documented before-and-after photos, taken conspicuously, in broad daylight.
In a 165-1 vote, Iran's parliament voted to take President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to court over his recent takeover of the nation's oil ministry. 124 members of Parliament either abstained or were absent from the vote.
In a continuation of the conflict between President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the President fired the head of the oil ministry and appointed himself to the position. The move makes Ahmadinejad the current head of OPEC, as the leadership of the oil cartel rotates through countries, and is currently in the hands of Iran.
Members of the Parliament argued that this move was unconstitutional, and their will send the dispute into the court system, though it is unclear whether Ahmadinejad will find himself in a criminal or civil dispute.
The California First District Court of Appeal appeared split on the question of whether bar exam records were subject to a Public Records Act request.
After losing in the lower court, Professor Richard Sander (UCLA Law) took his case to the appellate level. The State Bar has argued that it is not subject to the act because it is not a state agency, despite the obvious legal importance of the bar's admissions decisions.
Sander is seeking the data to further his controversial research on the issue of affirmative action. Black law graduates have a notoriously low bar passage rate. But, surprisingly, it is also low when controlling for LSAT and undergraduate GPAs. Sander's hypothesis is that these low bar passage rates may be caused by affirmative action programs (aka: "diversity initiatives") which cause black students to be admitted into more elite schools than they would have been accepted to if race were not considered. This "mismatch" could prove detrimental to students who are placed in a program that is over their heads, while they would have thrived elsewhere.
Two of the justices on the panel looked as if they intended to reach opposing conclusions on the question, with the third judge not yet giving any indication of his opinion.