Archive for the ‘Language and the law’ Category

Legally contested liverwurst

August 5, 2019

A recent amendment to my 3/30/16 posting “Back to Braunschweig” chronicles some legal events in my blogging life:

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Caribou with a pair

March 14, 2019

From Chris Waigl on the 10th, this bulletin from Alaska, the 2/24 Nuggets cartoon by Jamie Smith (inksnow.blogspot.com) in her local paper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

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[Chris:] [Since the cartoon is set in Alaska]  the animals depicted presumably are caribou (NOT reindeer). Note that in caribou, females have antlers, often quite elaborate ones.

Also [since it’s illegal to kill caribou cows, but legal to hunt bulls,] the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a remarkable multi-page illustrated leaflet about sexing caribou in the wild [here]

Ok: the idiom grow a pair; antlers on female caribou/reindeer; the distinction between caribou and reindeer; and as a bonus, an Ink & Snow blog posting “Bear Den” from 3/10 on the use of trademarked characters in cartoons.

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An omission

February 23, 2019

What someone doesn’t say can be as significant as what they do say; more generally, a topic that someone doesn’t talk about can be as significant as the topics that they do.

So I don’t know quite what to make of a passage from a NYT op-ed column by Thomas T. Cullen (U.S. attormey for the Western District of Virginia), on-line yesterday under the title “The Grave Threats of White Supremacy and Far-Right Extremism: Hate crimes are on the rise. Police and prosecutors need better tools to fight back.” and in print today under the title “Rising Far-Right Extremism in America: Police and prosecutors need better tools to fight back”, about the case of Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, arrested last week and accused of plotting to assassinate Democratic members of Congress, prominent television journalists, and others. The passage:

In 2009, Congress took an important step in arming federal investigators to deal with hate crimes by passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This law makes it possible to prosecute as hate crimes violent acts committed against victims because of their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity or disability. The law provides stringent maximum penalties, including life imprisonment, if someone is killed during a hate crime.

The omission in the bold-faced clause is sexual orientation, which is specifically listed in the Shepard/Byrd law — as a result of the savage murder of Shepard in 1998 because of his sexual orientation.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Protecting fictional brand names

July 19, 2015

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

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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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