Archive for the ‘Language and the law’ Category

Active shooters, armed gunmen, and their ilk

March 24, 2018

(For the day of the Marches for Our Lives.)

On March 2nd in the Stanford Report, the university’s daily newsletter for faculty and staff, the top item:

(#1) About the video “Run. Hide. Fight. — Surviving an Active Shooter Event”

My main interest here is in the family of expressions that includes active shooter and armed gunman, but as usual my attention will wander far afield.

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Call me by your name

March 1, 2018

The Mother Goose and Grimm, from February 21st:

(#1)

A joke playing on use and mention: Grimmy mentions the name of the Oscar-nominated movie Call Me by Your Name, but Ralph understands him to be using the expression call me your your name, so he calls Grimmy Ralph.

That leads us to the movie and so to a thicket of issues about language, sexuality, gender, and the law.

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Lawyers, Gubs and Monkeys

May 3, 2016

My grand-daughter Opal arrived for breakfast on Saturday with a book she immediately immersed herself in. Not a children’s book, not a book of cartoons, but instead an entertaining 2015 book by jurist William W. Bedsworth about amazing legal cases — which Opal and her mother sampled for me as breakfast went on:

(#1)

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Protecting fictional brand names

July 19, 2015

It’s all about Duff Beer, on The Simpsons:

(#1)

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Marriage, rights, and cake

July 10, 2015

From the NYT on the 8th, “States Weigh Gay Marriage, Rights and Cake” by Jack Healy:

Denver — The case before the court on Tuesday grappled with issues of equal rights, religious objections to same-sex marriage and wedding cake.

At issue was whether Jack Phillips, a Colorado bakery owner, had broken state antidiscrimination laws when he refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception, citing his religious beliefs. With same-sex marriage now legal everywhere nationally in the wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling in June, his case is being closely watched as a test of the boundary between personal religious objections and legal discrimination.

… “This case is simply not about cake,” said Ria Mar, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. “Businesses open to the public must be open to all, on the same terms.”

Unless Ria Mar is using “open to all” and “on the same terms” in an exceptionally careful way, this can’t be right.

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Two books

May 16, 2015

From the NYT Book Review of last Sunday (May 10th), bits from two reviews that caught my eye: Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts reviewed by Jennifer Szalai; and Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino (a memoir combined with analysis of the same-sex marriage case) reviewed by Lincoln Caplan. I haven’t read either book (though I’ve read and posted about other things by Yoshino). But I was intrigued by the reviewers’ comments.

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Judge Judy: the early days

May 14, 2015

Today’s Zippy, featuring Judge Judy and her hectoring courtroom speech style:

Judge Judy is something of a preoccupation in Zippy, often in combination with Donald Trump (for instance, #2 on 3/17/14, #1 on 5/26/14), sometimes with other pop culture icons (JJ, Howie Mandel, and Dr. Phil on 8/17/13).

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Define marriage

April 30, 2015

The most recent Scenes from a Multiverse (available on-line here) tackles the task of the U.S. Supreme Court:

The legal issues here are genuinely complex, but apparently SCOTUS isn’t contemplating undoing the same-sex marriages that have already happened as a result of judicial actions (as opposed to legislation or popular vote), though it could conceivably let stand existing bans in some states.

Then there’s the question of extending protections against discrimination based on sexuality to those jurisdictions that don’t now have them — or not.

And there’s more.

God’s law and man’s law

March 25, 2015

Frank Bruni in an NYT opinion piece, “Too Much Prayer in Politics: Republicans, the Religious Right and Evolution” on February 15th:

Faith and government shouldn’t be as cozy as they are in this country. Politicians in general, and Republicans in particular, shouldn’t genuflect as slavishly as they do, not in public. They’re vying to be senators and presidents. They’re not auditioning to be ministers and missionaries.

… Mike Huckabee, who is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist church, put God in the title of a new book that he wrote and just released on the cusp of what may be another presidential bid. He ran previously in 2008, when he won the Iowa caucuses.

The book is called “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.” These are a few of his favorite things.

During a recent appearance on a Christian TV program, he explained that he was mulling a 2016 campaign because America had lost sight of its identity as a “God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God.” The way he talks, the Constitution is a set of tablets hauled down from a mountaintop by a bearded prophet.

The notion that God’s law is above man’s law is widespread these days, especially among politicians. This is disturbing, especially since it comes from people who claim to know the mind of God. Certainly it wasn’t what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

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Artistic freedom

February 2, 2015

Today’s Zippy alludes distantly to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France:

Do artists have the right to depict their subjects in ways that will offend some people (in particular, these subjects)? Well, in a large number of places, yes. What, then, if those offended respond with physical attacks?