Blawg Review #238: Celebrating the International Day of Tolerance … and the NRA’s Birthday

“We tend to idealize tolerance, then wonder why we find ourselves infested with losers and nut cases. — Patrick Nielsen Hayden “I have seen gross intolerance shown in support of tolerance.” — Coleridge

Cue the music.

The United Nations has proclaimed today, November 16, as the International Day of Tolerance. This came in the wake of the UN proclaimimg 1995 the International Year of Tolerance — whose successes Wikipedia documents in grueling detail. (Apparently, many did not get the memo.)

Worldwide response to this abbreviated version has been dramatic.


Meanwhile, blogging continues . . .

The irreplaceable Randazza encourages tolerance for anonymous douchebags, while Jack of Kent does not urge all that much tolerance for the UK’s much-mocked libel laws.

Personal injury lawyer Erik Turkewitz has decided to stop tolerating spam in his comments section from law firms, but tolerantly limits his response to outing them. (Apparently, his bastinado is in the shop.)

Many writers are somewhat less than tolerant of Google’s habit of scraping the entire contents of their works for Google’s benefit. The Author’s Guild and the AAP sued — a post mortem on the now-defunct settlement proposal as a look toward a new proposal was performed by Matthew Sag at Concurring Opinions. (Full disclosure: I said no to the proposed settlement; the remix doesn’t look any better to me.)

Moving on . . . I don’t follow such things closely, but I understand that the transportation of an imperfect oblate spheroid consisting of a swine’s epidermis for short distances and/or interference with said transport can be a very profitable profession, and has inspired many bons mot. One such highly-paid inflated epidermis transporter engaged in such clever formulations as 
larryjohnsontwitter was one Larry Johnson of the Kansas City “Chiefs”. Moved by the persuasiveness of the above and similar such clevernesses, his employers have, with minimal tolerance, invited him to seek other employment; Rob Radcliff furnishes the details.

Intolerance (as well as lack of humor) is utterly prevalent, of course, in airline travel, where the fearless screeners of the Federal Airline Transport And Security Service (known, strangely, by the acronym of “TSA”) strive mightily to prevent the smuggling of any of the traditional hijacker’s tools — guns, knives, boxcutters, the Medal of Honor, bottled water, nail clippers, meat thermometers and such — aboard airplanes, but have now decided that cash, even in multi-thousand-dollar quantities, does not represent an immediate danger. (This may be a relief to those who carry smaller amounts of cash — say, $20 worth of quarters — in a heavy sock in their carry-on.)

What does? Dean Vernon Wormer has explained that we’re all on Double Secret Probation. TSA Spokesperson Lauren Gaches has explained that the memo that would tell us all what we can’t carry is only available if it’s waterboarded out of her in response to a FOIA request.

Up until recently, a great deal of tolerance was displayed by the US Army with regard to one Major Nidal Hasan, whose presentation to senior Army MDs on the medical subject of I Am About to Engage in Sudden Jihad Syndrome If You Don’t Stop Me, The Koranic Worldview As It Relates to Muslims in the US Military was followed by his transfer from Walter Reed to Fort Hood. John Philips argues — persuasively to this intolerant amateur — that the apparent facts of the situation rendered the Army’s lack of discrimination unnecessary, and they could have, maybe, like, fired him.

The Fort Hood murders have inspired a lot of questions, as well as the usual posturing, which I’m going to skip. Eugene Volokh dispenses with what seems to me to be one of the easier ones — does the Second Amendment prevent the army from banning soldiers from carrying firearms on military bases? No.

Another easy one — too difficult, it seems for Wolf Blitzer at CNN — is how a lawyer who used to be a soldier could choose to represent a man accused, manifestly for good reason, of a horrible crime. Ken at Popehat shows limited tolerance for that stupid question.

One area where tolerance seems to run rampant society is for bad behavior by guys who have been issued badges.
The video shows Maricopa County Detention Officer Adam Stoddard snooping about and finding some interesting reading material in a defense counsel’s folder

She subsequently, and a bit irritatedly, explains, “you don’t get to do that!” (That appears to not be the case, at least in Maricopa County.)

— and sharing it with an equally badged friend, who promptly spirits it out of court.

Lawyers from all over the blawgosphere have been making intolerant statements about Mr. Stoddard’s reading preferences, very much not in the spirit of today.

One particularly cogent comment came from Mark Bennett, who noted that “Also note that the defense lawyer’s first reaction is to want to know if she’s being accused of wrongdoing.” Occurred to me, too, that she might have been worried that narcotics had been planted there. Wouldn’t be the first time.

The sequel showed a lot of tolerance, by the way; when Stoddard, under oath, told self-contradictory stories about why he ended up going through the defense counsel’s briefs (the legal kind, silly), the judge simply set another hearing, for further tolerant dithering.

The video, also by the way, was the official court video; no amateurs involved.

In England, though, the problem of police officers concealing their identities, presumably when performing various naughtinesses, has come to the attention of the authorities, who have come up with a simple solution: a “request” that all videos and photography of said naughty badged boys be thrown down the memory hole, brought to us by Charon QC.

The authorities in Stoughton MA apparently, though, are not tolerant of former police officer David M. Cohen’s demand for overtime payments for his work on a criminal case, totalling “at least”

… $113,000, which includes 87 accrued vacation days, 125 unused sick days, 144 hours of compensation time accrued for not using sick time, 152 hours of supervisor comp time, 481 hours for court appearances related to his criminal case, 280 hours of overtime to prepare for his case, at least 61 percent education incentive pay for 2007, and 61 percent for accrued stipends and benefits.

For some reason — intolerance, perhaps — the demand has been rejected; Cohen was the defendant in the criminal case, and convicted on four charges.

Great tolerance has been demonstrated in the sad case of Tennessee State Trooper Brent Gobbell, who decided to send himself a remarkably racist email, but accidentally ended up sending it to 787 other state employees; he’s getting 15 days off and a stint of diversity training, presumably after which he’ll return to his prestigious job providing security at the Tennessee Supreme Court. (I don’t make this stuff up, you know.)

Turning away from the tolerance issue . . .

Tomorrow is the NRA’s birthday, and as good an excuse as I can find for a bit of gun stuff. Self-admitted occasional NRA supporter Todd Wilkinson gnashed his teeth at the HuffPo over his anguish that shortly, state laws about carrying guns will be applied to National Parks. He doesn’t, for some reason, show that this is a bad idea because of the flurry of shootings in state and local parks in those states, probably because there hasn’t been one. If I understand him correctly, his argument is “Do it for the bears.”

The bears, when pressed for comment, murmured something about “pickanick baskets.”

Media Matters rends its garments over how the Hasan shooting hasn’t, unlike previous shootings in victim disarmament zones, excited a flurry of gun control discussion and perhaps yet more legislation.

In Germany, a postscript to their mass shooting earlier this year: German regulations now permit the authorities to enter gun owners’ households without notice or warrant, just to be sure that the guns are stored with Teutonic correctness. In that case, the gun that the young murderer used hadn’t been locked up.

Over in the US, neither was Jacksie King’s:

“Jacksie King was an elderly grandmother who lived in a small Illinois house on dead-end Gaty Avenue since her youth. At 87, she mostly stayed at home and enjoyed frequent visits from her daughter. Her life changed one December night when an unidentified intruder cut her phone lines, pried the security bars off her window and invaded her home. After severely beating her, the man robbed her house and escaped. The case was never solved. Two months later, King awoke to the sound of an intruder breaking through her storm door at 2 a.m. As before, the bars were pried off her window to access an enclosed porch, and again the phone lines were cut. King reached for her only remaining lifeline–a .38-cal. Colt revolver her daughter had given her for protection. This time the would-be victim fired, striking 49-year-old Larry Tillman in the chest, immediately dropping him on the doorstep. Terrified, King stayed in her chair for four hours, clutching her revolver, until her daughter arrived. Police later learned Tillman was a career criminal with an extensive record, including residential robbery.”

Last year’s Heller decision is beginning to percolate through the courts; the DC Circuit weighs in, and the Chicago Gun Case is gearing up to be heard by the Supreme Court.

(As I understand it, the authorities in Chicago found a little-known addition to “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, unless, like, we want to, then it’s totally okay.”)

Expect oral arguments on January 11, another snappy 5-4 decision forthwith, or maybe fifthwith.

This weeks’ WTF gun law moment was provided by the UK, where a man who found a sawed-off shotgun dumped in his yard promptly brought it to the nearest police station, only to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted for doing so. Paul Clarke will spend at least five years in prison. I guess maybe the Brits need even stricter gun laws.

Meanwhile, the Hasan rampage has excited more commentary on gun control. The eminent legal scholar, Chicago’s second Mayor Daley, explains:

“Unfortunately, America loves Guns. We love guns to a point where that uh we see devastation on a daily basis. You don’t blame a group.”

Well, there’s always the murderers, but . . . Daley is mayor of the city with the strictest gun control laws of any major city in the US; it also has one of the highest violent crime rates; it would be intolerant to show the connection between the two, but John MacAdams obliges.

Perhaps more sober analysis of what to do — rather than “don’t blame a group” — in the unlikely event you find yourself around an active shooter is provided by Karl Rehn here, courtesy of Lawrence Person.

A few goodies just don’t fit in with either of the two themes of the day, but I couldn’t leave out Jamie Spencer’s entry, which combines a pointer to a tour of Oaksterdam University, “the first cannabis college” and a pointer to U.S. v. Villar, where a guilty verdict was immediately followed by an email from one of the convicting jurors to the defense attorney, where the juror explains that he and two other jurors really didn’t think that the convicted had been proven guilty, but was sure that there was no point in holding out, as the guy wouldn’t get any better a jury the next time around. (As I understand it, three of the jurors weren’t sure he’d been proven guilty, but were sure that he’d been proven to be Hispanic.)

I can’t quite close this with that bit of ugliness, so I’ll just point to the new scourge that is just ruining the reputation of Las Vegas: Strippers in a Box, and, courtesy of Grits for Breakfast, the only funny Taser video I’ve ever seen.


My own views on tolerance were shaped by General Charles Napier, who explained to a group of Indian gentlement that Her Majesty’s forces were utterly committed to tolerance. (The issue was the practice of “suttee” in India, where a widow, out of grief at the loss of her husband, would invariably throw herself upon his funeral pyre, often assisted by a bunch of men who were pretty sure that her own protestations and struggles to the contrary were purely pro forma.)

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

Then again, I’m not known for my tolerance.

Happy birthday, NRA.

(Thanks to the anonymous Ed. of Blawg Review for offering me this opportunity, and to both him and Colin Samuels for many great suggestions for links.)

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