I just got this link in email: SFSU cites Jewish émigré for ‘hate speech’ (May 31, 2002), and read the story — it appears that a 50 year old Jewish-lady SFSU student is being charged under a hate crime statute, based on evidence that she told pro-Palestinian counterdemonstrators to “fuck their camels”, and called on the Arabic word for “bitch”.
I’ve Googled this and don’t yet have confirmation, but it meshes with the earlier news reports that had a pro-Israeli student offered to the DA to be possibly charged with hate crimes based on what amounts to ethnic abuse.
I’m not in possession of all the facts (but the media reports are congruent); I’m not a lawyer, and I’m sure some lawyers will pick this up and go into depth with it.
But if the facts are what they appear to be, this is beyond absurd. I’ll go back to my earlier comment, which is that there is a wide gulf between passionate, even heated speech – which I’m pretty sure the comments above are – and threatened and actual violence – which I’m absolutely sure they aren’t. It frightens me a bit that this distinction is somehow not clear to the eminient administrators of the University.
The only reason in the world that I can imagine for the SFSU administration to pick this one women out of what were doubtless dozens of people screaming imprecations is that she is Jewish, and that by referring her to the District Attorney they can maintain exactly the impression of fairness that they find so important.
The facts will come out in the next few days. Message to President Corrigan: I sure hope the task force you have empanelled comes up with something profound this summer. I know I’ll be watching. Why is it that my expectations are so low?
Note (6/8/02): I mistakenly typed “UCSF” for “SFSU” and just got caught. My apologies to the medical students.


Well, while admiring my own bad self in pixels in Instapundit, I notice a link to a story about hospital time with a child, and as a parent, can’t help but follow it to a brilliant quote:

There is a particular radiant serenity that is immediately apparent in the countenance and bearing of the parents of critically and chronically ill children. After spending time with others who are in the clutches of what is almost universally acknowledged as the most indescribably horrible human experience, I come away feeling that I have been in the presence of God.

And it’s an amazing coincidence, but something happened that made me think just this today…the Littlest Guy had t-ball today (baseball for kids who are too little to play real baseball yet), and when we got to the field, a Challengers game was underway. Challengers are kids playing Little League baseball who are physically or developmentally disabled. It was quite a motley crew in wheelchairs and braces, the characteristic smile of children with Down’s syndrome…a walking embodiment of many parent’s – at least I’ll admit, my – fears.
Their game was running very late, but none of the t-ball parents had it in them to chase them off the field, so the coaches came up with some extra drills for the kids to do in the outfield, and the rest of us parents stood at the fence watching the game.
No one spoke about what we were watching; I don’t know what the other parents felt. I began by looking at the children struggling, and then remembering the relief I felt each time one of my sons was born and was pronounced fit. Then I felt bad for feeling that way, and started watching the parents.
And I know just what Katie Granju meant. There was an ease and a grace and a kind of joy that I saw in those parents which blocked everything else from my attention, and which I’m still carrying around with me and examining.
It amazes me how much I have to learn from people, and how easy it is when I just am willing to open my eyes and look.


Well, wowie…three weeks into this, and I get a link from the man himself, Instapundit. As egoless as you try to be, it’s hard to explain how good that feels…
He apparently got the link from Gail Davis at MyBlog, so thanks to Gail. I paged over to her, and noticed two things: Her ‘catchphrases’ are great – “Liberal and Proud of It”, and “Armed Women=Polite Men”. And she has some great, sensible commentary.
I didn’t find permalinks, so you’ll have to search or scroll, but she has at least three posts which I thought were excellent:

TUCSON POLICE: DAMNED IF THEY DO AND DAMNED IF THEY DON’T Appears that the Tucson Police Department video taped some individuals during an anti-sales tax demonstration. A policy to video tape demonstrations or gatherings that have a potential for violence came as a result of the Fourth Avenue Riot last April which was so incompetently handled by the Tucson Police. I don’t know that there was any reason to think pro-sales tax and anti-sales tax aficionados were going to come to blows. Perhaps the video ensured that they didn’t. I’m not really offended by the police video tapping specific actions during the event as long as those tapes are not retained once the event is over and no further police involvement in the issue is needed. I much prefer a policeman taking a few videos (if they will be discarded) to permanent video cameras installed around public areas.

Taping can serve at least two purposes—to allow the police to assemble intelligence by identifying people participating in or leading demonstrations (bad in the event the demonstrations are just that, good in the event that they turn into riots); and to serve as evidence in the event that police or demonstrators misbehave. Reynold’s post on my SFSU comment calls for SFSU President Corrigan to release his police tapes; showing the whole world what went on would make a differnce, he thinks. And I agree.

THE CONSERVATIONISTS ARE … Ill advised at best. The following quote is a continuation of Josh Marshall’s weblog entry below.

…I also concluded that many of the most visible hawks really are reckless, ignorant about key issues about the Middle East, and — not that infrequently — indifferent to the truth. They have been underhanded and they have used cheap media ploys.

Reckless and underhanded methods are not limited to those pushing the war or promoting their candidate for public office. Conservationists, who often have good intentions and valid concerns, emulate these methods and end up discrediting themselves. Conservationists have been so narrow minded that they inhibit any rational dialogue. And they do this in the name of “the better good.” Apparently they do not believe
1. That their data can counter those who are underhanded and indifferent to the truth;
2. That given good straightforward information, citizens in this country are able to think for themselves;
3. That we actually have a right to make choices and may not agree with all they propose.
The conservation movement needs to get it’s act together, and stop trying to manipulate us in the same way as do those arch conservative republicans.

Yes, environmentalism has moved from being a discipline aimed at rationally evaluating and preserving the environment to a secular religion…and aren’t we seeing enough religious wars these days?
I believe that there is a strong and reasonable case for conserving (note that I do not say preserving) the environment. I think that Den Beste is off-base in his attack today on energy conservation (as I thought Friedman was for his view that conservation would somehow insulate us against Islamicist terrorism). But the environmental community is painting itself into a corner by crying “wolf” so often, and taking positions so extreme and ill-thought-through that they risk pushing the mainstream away.

ALTRUISTIC MEDICINE? Chris Rangel at says:
: …most physicians are forced into a system where they have to cram in 40 to 50 patients a day (at about 5-10 mins per patient) just to cover the office overhead. They work 12 hour days trying to balance office visits with hospital admissions and emergencies and then have to sit down and fill out paperwork for an additional 2-3 hours after the office is closed. I’m not a bit surprised to see more and more physicians dump Medicare, go to cash only services, and concierge arrangements. Will this create a class divide in the quality of health care? Most assuredly but don’t go off blaming greedy physicians whom you believe are obligated by society to be more altruistic. You want altruistic medicine? There are plenty of places around the world (Canada, China or any communist country, the former Soviet Union) that you can go for socialized medical care. Funny though. I don’t ever seem to recall a flood of people into these countries for the sole purpose of basking in the light of their superior medical systems.
I have a different view of how we got to this point. I think that the medical profession (mainly physicians) became excessively greedy (as a group).

I know a lot of folks whose parents were physicians in the 50’s and 60’s, and a lot of my peers are doctors now. The big difference is that where their parents expected to do well – to lead an upper-middle-class professional lifestyle, the doctors now seem to all expect to get rich.
I’ll tie this back to the increase in inequality which I keep harping on, which leads to the feeling that just making $150 – $200K/year really may not be enough to live as well as many of us think we ought to.
Maybe we should rethink?


I keep wanting to write about sexy, controversial issues which will provoke wildfires of argument and commentary (after all, why else do this?), and keep getting sidetracked into what I know are relatively arcane issues – which I find to be absolutely critical and fascinating – and which I just can’t help but write about.
Chris Bertram (who I have complimented before) has another great discussion, this time on the flaws in libertarianism.
I have always felt that libertarianism was an interesting thought experiment (gedankenexperiment, as my old physics teachers used to say), on a class with Schroedenger’s cat. To be honest, I’ve also thought that Rawlsean liberalism was the mirror image of it, in terms of being the product of a bunch of smart, well intentioned kids sitting around with too much pilsner and pizza and trying to design a society.
In his terrific post, Bertram points out a key flaw in libertarian theory – which is that the absolute property rights created will need at some point to be adjudicated.
It’s a great point, but I don’t think he went quite far enough, so I want to take it and run a little further.
What, exactly, is property?
The “law for dummies” version is that property is something which you control, can dispose of as you see fit, can transfer the ownership of, and can deny the use of to another.
To which I add: Who says?
Well, in the old days, I did. By the force of arms. (i.e. I would either kill you and take your stuff, or threaten to kill you and you would then give me your stuff).
To condense two entire disciplines (sociology and anthropology) into some bullet points, we began to form increasingly complex kinship and then social groups, in no small part because we needed enough people by our side to keep the group over the hill from coming and taking all our stuff.
In these groups, often, the strongest took command, and could basically decide what stuff he wanted, restrained only by the fact that if he took too much stuff, the weaker members would gang up on him and take all his stuff.
Sometime around the beginning of the Enlightenment, the concept that everyone in society was subject to the rule of law…that it was not just the diktat of the strongest…began to gain currency. And as a part of that the concept of “ownership” came to the fore.
This meant that what you owned – your property – was yours independent of the say-so of the king, or the local powers-that-be. It was not “granted” to you by the Queen.
And, I will also argue (in this kind of cartoon fashion), that creation – of marketable, private property – is what led to capitalism, industrialization, and all the material progress that culminates with a college freshman surfing the web for fart jokes.
But in order to do that, we have to have a concept of ‘property’ which is both absolute, in that we have clear mechanisms to determine and enforce ownership, and flexible, in that we have to adapt the definitions of property to current social conditions.
We are living through an adaptation now as intellectual property in the form of movies and music is suddenly readily transferable (and changeable – the ‘remixed’ Star Wars Episode I.II is out on DVD).
So the reality is that property is a socially defined right; there are significant issues in how it is defined, and I will claim that the ‘best’ definitions require a healthy tension between the utility and fairness of individual control and the utility and fairness of a well-functioning society.
In my mind, this alone puts paid to the libertarian absolutism of property relations as the controlling element in social relations. Reality is, as always, surprisingly complex. And people are even more complex than that…