On Securing Liberty

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.Thomas Paine (1795)

The Fundamental Flaw in HB2

As do countless citizens and corporations, I fundamentally disagreed with North Carolina’s 2016 legislation now known commonly as HB2. It was as much hateful as it was an egregious violation of federal law. I have pointed out in other posts that treating all females as frail victims incapable of defending themselves or speaking for themselves is supremely misogynistic just as it is supremely misandrist to presume all males to be menacing predators. In fact, I argue that the same mental processes which make a particular person (man or woman) a predator are the very same mental processes that make a comparable person a hero. You see, while a predator perceives a given set of circumstances as a potential victim to be exploited, a hero perceives those exact same circumstances as a potential victim in need of defense. And in this the old cartoons got it right! The hero and the villain wear identical hats and the color merely reflected the content of their character. Apart from these extremes, though, most males just go about their own business and their presence is neither good nor evil.Continue Reading

Laws & Outlaws

I stumbled upon a politician’s Facebook meme yesterday that employed at least a hundred words to restate a very succinct bumper sticker of the 1980 : “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” This truth—that laws only regulate the law-abiding—is not true only of guns.Continue Reading

Senator McKoon, Tear Down Your Wall

Georgia Senator Joshua McKoon has proposed a state constitutional amendment to require that all government business be conducted in English and it makes no good sense. As a citizen with one foot still in Georgia (and the other foot looking for better soil to trod), this moronic initiative bothered me when I first heard of it, but it has really stuck in my craw and I must now speak out.Continue Reading

Amber Guyger

I’m going to predict that Amber Guyger will be (or should be) convicted of the lesser manslaughter. It is so bizarre. No explanation makes sense. I can believe that she was so tired as to go to the wrong apartment. I could also believe that she was doing blow or meth to stay awake and work those extended hours (which, btw, in and of itself is full of shit; plenty of departments work standard 12-hour shifts). Whether she was exhausted or not, the first response of any person is not to shoot. If I were in my home and someone walked in, yeah, it would be lights out. But if I walked into my home and immediately saw an intruder, I’d duck out as fast as I could and re-assess the situation from cover. If I came home and found my door ajar, I’m not sure what I would do. And maybe that’s what happened for her, but her always-right, never-wrong, bad-ass cop programming took over and she acted as if she had just responded to a burglary in process. But even then, she would have been justified in shooting if she saw a weapon or something that appeared to be a weapon. I am unaware of any such testimony. Whether she was mistaken or not, she was negligent. Her negligence caused the death of a person. That is manslaughter.

Amadou Diallo

In February 1999, four plain-clothes New York City cops shot and killed 23 year-old African immigrant Amadou Diallo more than 40 times in the doorway of his own home. Diallo was unarmed. The cops were acquitted of second degree murder.Continue Reading

Police Turning to UK to Learn De-Escalation

Scottish police officers simulated a riot at the Jackton training center in Glasgow, Scotland, where police leaders from throughout the United States gathered to discuss department tactics.
“A difference long curious to Americans stands out: Most British police officers are unarmed, a distinction particularly pronounced here in Scotland, where 98 percent of the country’s officers do not carry guns. For them, calming a situation through talk, rather than escalating it with weapons, is an essential policing tool, and one that brought a delegation of top American police officials to this town 30 miles northeast of Glasgow.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/12/nyregion/us-police-leaders-visiting-scotland-get-lessons-on-avoiding-deadly-force.html

More Enthusiasm for Sport Than for One’s “Neighbor”?

I just stumbled upon a 1970s or 1980s Billy Graham crusade. He said: “here in this stadium when you have a football game, if you’re really for Texas Tech you’re really gonna shout loud when they make a touchdown and the man who loves his neighbor the most will fight all that hurts and deprives and oppresses his neighbor. Paul said, ‘who is offended and I burn not?'”Continue Reading

On Belief and Justice

On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was: “From this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you – get a second opinion. If you want justice, go to a whorehouse; if you want to get fucked, go to court.” Richard Gere as Martin Vail, Primal Fear

On Discovering Truth

[T]ruth is best discovered by powerful statements on both sides of the question. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)


N.B. Though often attributed to Lord John Scott Eldon (1751-1838), Eldon was, in fact, quoting Bacon.

More Thoughts on Death Penalty

I just finished watching The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix and I am conflicted more than ever by the death penalty. How does homocide remedy homicide? To what degree is the death penalty entrenched in antiquated Judeo-Christian religiosity? And what do the evolved states of those religions say about the preciousness of life? Does the Talmud not teach that to save one life is to save the whole world? Did Christ not teach that even the most wretched life is still worth sparing? And to what degree is pronouncing the death penalty our attempt to vangloriously exalt ourselves to equality with God to decide who should live and who should die? I think that as a society the death penalty must exist as the ultimate repudiation and condemnation of intolerable crime. But as a civilization, should we not then immediately commute that death sentence to exile (which is to say, prison)? We euthanize animals in the name of compassion, but we refuse that same compassion to those agonizing in the throes of slow natural death. Yet we force death upon those we condemn in the name of justice for the victims. Is that just a reverse–and a perverse–euthanasia? Using death in the name of compassion, not for the one dying, but for the one already dead? More death does not reverse the finality of the a priori death. And no, I haven’t been the victim of anyone like Ted Bundy, but I can say that the natural death of the alcoholic who terrorized my childhood brought me neither pleasure nor displeasure. His death closed the cover of an open book, but it did not erase the contents of the chapters.

Habeas Corpus and Actual Innocence

I am convinced that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), was really about re-aligning the checks-and-balances and restoring federal courts’ authority to take corrective measures. While the decision was technically adverse to the underlying habeas corpus petition, it was overwhelmingly (and controversially) restorative to habeas corpus practice, and I think the Supreme Court chose to hear the case simply to renew its prior holdings in House v. Bell, 513 U.S. 298 (2006), and Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298  (1995), rather than to address the actual issue of Perkins’ liberty.

Writs of habeas corpus are traceable at least as far back as the Magna Carta of 1215. Basically, it’s a desperate cry to a higher authority to investigate a person’s unjust confinement. Most landmark precedents emerge from federal habeas corpus proceedings—Gideon v. Wainwright and Mirando v. Arizona are two such über-cases that every American student hears in high school. I’ve been digging around and want to take a moment to disseminate information on one particular aspect that exists in United States federal courts called Actual Innocence.Continue Reading