Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Friday, April 30, 2004

A TANGENTIALLY RELATED 9/11 THOUGHT: Posting on McCarthyism reminded me of Ann Coulter. Which leads me to ask: how absurd is it that the only people who lost their jobs after September 11th were Ann Coulter and Bill Maher?
OF COMMUNISTS AND WITCHES Over at the Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh says:

"At the same time, I balk at casual condemnations of McCarthyism as a "witch hunt." Witch hunts are unambiguously bad because we know there are no witches. If there were witches, in the standard sense of people who could use black magic to harm the rest of us, then of course we ought to hunt them."

I concur. That said, the problem with McCarthyism isn't that there weren't any witches. It's that McCarthy and HUAC weren't any good at catching them, and their bluster and bullying distracted from any actual efforts at witch hunting and did much to discredit the very idea of witch hunting for future generations. When there are witches in our midst, or genuine subversives in the service of some foreign power, by all means they should be uncovered and prevented from doing us harm. But ruining the lives of innocent people for political gain or just out of spite (Roy Cohn, anybody?) doesn't help us do that, it hurts us.

I'm sure Professor Volokh probably agrees with that; I'm not trying to criticize him. I just think it's always worthwhile whenever McCarthy comes up to remember why McCarthyism actually was bad.

PS - If you scroll up at the Volokh site, there's more in-depth discussion of the philosophical problems that would be cause by the actual existence of witches (and also of telepaths). The web is such a strange, strange place.

PPS - I actually do (sort of) believe in witches. I figure I believe in lots of other kooky things that can't be empirically verified using the scientific method - the soul, God, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, angels, demons - why not toss witches into the mix? (Plus they're in the Bible!) I don't exactly stay up nights worrying about them - I figure they can't do me any harm in the long run - but I wouldn't be shocked if it turned out they're still around.

THIS IS GOOD ADVICE, not just about parenting, but about life in general. People are so obsessed with having the best (or being the best) in terms of things they can quantify that they lose track of the real costs this approach has in terms of non-quantifiable things. The best is all well and good, but sometimes - to paraphrase every federal judge in the country - you just gotta settle, people.
ON A FAR LIGHTER NOTE, there's an episode of "Law & Order" on right now, from the first season. It's very interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all, it's only tangentially a murder case; it's principally about a prosecution trial. More importantly, it's filmed in a very different style, and has a very different tone, than later episodes. Much less naturalistic lighting, and far more theatrical in general. Also, a much lower quality of acting than in later episodes. And, worst of all: there's no "doink-doink" in between the scenes, nor the little datelines. I'd always assumed that L&O had it's trademark tics from the get-go. Apparently they developed organically as the show progressed. Fascinating.
HORRIFYING, UTTERLY HORRIFYING This news is just sickening. These people should be punished to the fullest extent that the Uniform Code of Military Justice permits. In addition to being ridiculously counter-productive in terms of our larger goals in Iraq, it's just plain evil. Remember how the barbarism of the Iraqi regime - the "rape rooms" et alia - was part of the justification for invading the country? ugh.

(More disturbing pictures are available here.)

Thursday, April 29, 2004

SWEET. Today was a big day: I got my first-ever Nigerian scam-spam email. First a blog, then this: I've finally joined the internet age. Maybe now the people at LawMeme will finally think I'm cool. Allow me to reproduce the aforementioned email in full:

Good day to you.

I am Mrs. Mariam Abacha, the widow of Sani Abacha
the Late Nigerian Head of State.

The government has frozen all the family account
and auctioned all our properties.

To save the family from total bankruptcy I have
managed to ship out through a shipping company,
the sum of US15,500,000.00. kept by my late husband.
The money was disguised to beat the Nigerian
security and it is currently deposited in a credit commission.
I want you to recieve the money and pay it into your
account for the family safely.

I am offering you 30% for assisting me secure this
money fast before it is located by the Nigerian
Government Agents. Contact me immediately with my
Email Address so that I can forward to you all the
neccessary details.

Kindly send your phone and fax numbers for easy

Best regards.
Mrs. Mariam Abacha

(misspellings in the original)
VIVE LA RESISTANCE! Anti-insurgent insurgents in Najaf, picking off members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Go you, Thulfiqar Army! (found at Instapundit)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

HE'S OUT! Yanks robbed of an out in the sixth. Bobby Kielty "beats out" a wimpy, wimpy grounder. It's a shame, too, because it was a great off-balance throw from Posada, and an even better catch from Giambi. Believe me, Giambi needs every great defensive play he can get.
AS LONG AS I'M HANDING OUT SHOUT-OUTS: go to the Brainerd, the new blog of my old friend Tripp. With his enormous melon-head, his taste for fine Cuban cigars, and his inexplicable love of the Mets, Tripp is an American original. I think we can expect big things from this one. (no pressure.)
TRULY AN HONOR: Zorak the Embittered Mantis has added me to her "Blogs I Know" blogroll. Surely this is a milestone in my blogging career. (You will note on your left that I have returned the favor.)

I was going to make a pun on Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" (something about how working too hard will give you a Zor-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak) but I couldn't quite make the rhyme scheme work, so you'll just have to make due with the bare suggestion.
GUESS WHAT MY DRAIN IS DOING: It's draining! Which it hasn't done in almost a month! Thank you, Drāno® Max Gel.

Monday, April 26, 2004

ON THE OTHER HAND: this is the best we can do for the new Iraqi flag? Honestly, I could make a better design with Microsoft Paint.
OOOOO, MUQTADA! Things don't look so hot for everybody's favorite radical Shi'a cleric / would-be theocrat. Widely despised in his erstwhile city of refuge, Muqtada al-Sadr is showing increasing signs that he's not, in fact, the next Khomeini. Which strikes me as good news for just about everyone, American and Iraqi, who isn't al-Sadr himself. Doubtless I'm being especially Pollyannaish, but this guy seems like he's got "footnote-bound" written all over him: history will remember Muqtada al-Sadr as the last gasp of tyranny before the non-crazies took over and established some form of liberal, consensual government. One wonders, though: will al-Sadr be remembered as Karl Doenitz, or as Eugen Levine? That is: is this really the last gasp, or will the the following period of liberal-democratic calm be merely a prelude to a big hocking up of the phlegm of tyranny? (How's that for a metaphor?) Man, I hope it's the latter.

(Also, I hope this makes things better, rather than worse.)
HEADLINES MAY NOT REFLECT POLL, SURVEY FINDS Jonah Goldberg looks at this Sacramento Bee headline ("Poll: Nearly one of three Californians favor gay marriage. ") and responds by pointing out that :

One could also say "More than 2 out of 3 Californians Oppose Gay Marriage."

But why stop there? How about: "Poll: More Californians Believe Gay Relationships 'Morally Wrong' than Favor Gay Marriage"? Or "2 out of 5 Californians Believe Gay Relationships 'Morally Wrong'"? Or "On Homosexuality, Californians Only Marginally More Liberal than Rest of Troglodyte Country"?

How about: "Blog Entry: All of Above Headlines Equally Reflective of Polling Data"?
AHH, UNITARIANS: THE CANARIES IN THE SOCIAL-SEXUAL COAL MINE. Last month they were officiating gay marriages. Today they're standing up for polyamory. Can Unitarian Universalists for Consanguineosexuality Awareness be far behind? To quote Julia Gorin: "Let's hope so!"

Sunday, April 25, 2004

HMMM... YALIES ARE VERY VERY STRANGE (more on this later)
YESTERDAY WAS A GOOD DAY. In the morning, I started Love in the Ruins (courtesy of Cross-Campus Library) which I'd meant to do for a while. Then I had lunch at Mory's with Old Oligarch and Zorak the Embittered Mantis, who were in town for various sinister doings. It was nice to get to meet them. I wish I'd had more interesting things to say, but alas, as you might have guessed from reading this blog, I'm not a terribly interesting person.

After lunch I went to a bbq further up on Mansfield Street. That too was a good time. The people who'd taken the Journal entrance exam were celebrating their having finished the exam. The people who hadn't (I like to call them smart people) were celebrating their not having taken it. Burgers, dogs, brauts, beers, sangria, frisbe, football, a pit-bull in a tu-tu (don't ask): an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Then it was on to my final obligation of the day: tending bar at the Divinity School's spring formal. And by "tending bar" I mean "serving people beer and wine". I tried to get hard liquor for the event, but the organizers shot me down (not unreasonably, I suppose). I guess my Mr. Boston will have to continue to gather dust for a little while longer.

The Div School prom was the highlight of my day. I really love tending bar; couldn't tell you why, exactly: it just feels right. Maybe someday I can be like NBC's Ed, with a bar instead of a bowling alley. Probably not, though. Those kinds of things don't happen in real life.

Anyway, enough melancholia: the prom was fun. It was in a park on the west side of the harbor called Lighthouse Point. There was a DJ and dancing and an indoor carousel. I cannot stress how strange that was. People were riding it all night long. Unspeakably strange. (Full disclosure: I tried it at the end of the night.)

So it was a good time, and an excellent cap to a great day.

Today? Eh, not so hot. Perhaps it'll get better, but I suspect today is just the kind of day when things go badly. Ah, well.

Friday, April 23, 2004

MEMO TO STEINBRENNER: Can we lay off the next hot Cuban emigre prospect? Please? El Duque was fun and all, but these guys all have a ton of baggage and there's no reliable metric to convert Cuban national league statistics into Major League potential. Am I the only one who looks at Jose Contreras and says, "This guy's the Cuban Hideki Irabu."? The money you pour into the next bidding contest for some can't-miss Cuban could be much better spent scouting in American colleges and high schools.

Think about the best young pitchers: Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Dontrelle Willis, Roy Oswalt, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Kip Wells, Javier Vazquez, Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Eric Gagne, Roy Halladay (to construct an incomplete list). What's the common denominator? Well, none of them are Cubans. And all but Vazquez, Zambrano and Gagne are Americans (and Vazquez is a Puerto Rican). Scott Proctor is the big Yankees pitcher-to-be. Make him the model, too. Scouting and astute trades = good. Throwing money at aging foreign superstars = questionable.

Note: I started writing this post before Contreras gave up back-to-back homers to Millar and Bellhorn, and got hooked in the fourth.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE WORLD QUITE LIKE A NEWBORN BABY? The ruddy face, the half-stuck-out tongue, the tussled hair: they're a miniature vision of God's most perfect creation, the drunk. (Kidding! Kidding!) (found via Matt Yglesias)
IT'S KIND OF A DUMB POINT, but it's worth mentioning, perhaps, that Dubya should be denied communion, too. Y'know, 'cause he's not a Catholic.

To quote Lisa Simpson, "I'm no theologian." My analysis of the situation may be wrong (please correct me if it is). But:

It seems to me that Kerry ought to be denied communion, for his own sake. He's a major public figure, advocating a position of neutrality towards grave sin. That seems like scandal to me. (c.f., Pius XII: they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline in morals...) John Kerry, by his words and deeds, helps lead others into grave sin; as such, he himself is in a state of mortal sin.

If he continues to receive the Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin, he compounds his folly by adding to scandal the sin of sacrilege (c.f., 1 Corinthians 11:27-29). As such, even if Kerry is a virtuous man in all other respects (and I've no reason to doubt he is), he's locked in a self-perpetuating cycle of mortal sin. For the sake of his soul, he needs to get out of it.

Kerry shouldn't be receiving communion, for his own sake. If he can't take care of himself, the bishops ought to do it for him ("feed my sheep" and all that). It won't be pretty, and it won't be fun, but it might be the kind of slap-in-the-face wake-up call that leads him to renounce his sinful ways. Look: I'm not holding my breath. But I have hope.

PS: I'm not blind to the political ramifications of all this. But that's besides the point. Elections come and go; empires rise and fall. What's at stake here is the immortal soul of John Forbes Kerry. No number of electoral votes is worth more than that.
REQUIESCAT IN PACE. Pat Tillman, a man whose courage and self-sacrifice shows us all for the selfish cowards we are, has been killed in Afghanistan. He died a hero, in the service of the cause of freedom for the American and Afghan peoples. Something perhaps to think about when you read about Eli Manning or Maurice Clarett. They may be big-time athletes, but they are little, little men.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

YOU DON'T SAY. Apparently, suicide bombers will "burn in hell". Huh.
FINALLY: a poker night where I don't lose my shirt. Not a bad three hours' work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

CRIMINAL, JUST CRIMINAL As of now, Haile Gebrselassie, the world's greatest distance runner, is getting killed by Thierry Henry in the first round of's greatest living athlete bracket.

First of all, no Frenchman could ever beat an Ethiopian. Ever.

Second: I knew Americans, in their endless ignorance, had no love for distance running, a.k.a. the world's purest athletic endeavor. But Premiere League soccer isn't exactly the national past-time either.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

ROWAND THE HEADLESS THOMPSON GUNNER grounds out to end the 7th. (Last pun of the night, I swear.)
OK, I'M DONE WITH BLOGGING THE YANKEES GAME. Too much action, makes my head hurt. Proctor did a decent job; I like him as a pitcher of the future for the team. Graman probably needs a little more seasoning.

Aaaaand: Bernie has another defensive screw-up, allowing Uribe a one-out double. D'oh!
AROD SINGLES. Slump my hairy yellow ass.
PROCTOR K'S SANDY ALOMAR, JR. TO END THE INNING. You may recall that Proctor, along with Bubba Crosby, was acquired from Los Angeles last summer for Robin Ventura, in the most comically lopsided trade of the (still young) decade (and unnecessarily so, since the Yankees, having acquired Aaron Boone, had no choice but to trade Ventura).

8-5 Yiznankees. 2 men in scoring position.

Appropriately, Joe pulls Graman. It was worth a try to let him come back after the rain delay. But the game must be won.

Go Scott Proctor!

The Yankees are warming up Scott Proctor in the bullpen. It's the night of a thousand rookies!
ORDONEZ WINS ROUND TWO: triples to center. Bernie tries to make a fancy-pants stop, and the ball gets by him.

But Carlos Lee pops out to Giambi. Two outs (Uribe struck out to lead off the bottom of the inning).

But then: Konerko, unable to hit into a double play, singles to center instead. 8-3 Yanks.

And then: Gload doubles to the right field corner, scoring Konerko. 8-4 Yanks.

Aaaaaand: it's raining again.
AND WE'RE BACK! The delay is over. The YES announcers are suggesting, correctly, that the umps are trying to get the five innings over with, in case the rains return, and they've expanded the strike zone to do it. At this rate, Graman could get a pick-off move called for a strike.

OK, the Yanks went down in order in the top of the 3rd. Now it's Graman v. Ordonez, round 2.
HAROLD REYNOLDS AND JOHN KRUK ARE ABOUT TO RIP EACH OTHER'S HEADS OFF on Baseball Tonight. Kruk says it was selfish of A-Rod to bunt against a left-hander with Giambi (who's veddy weak against lefties) coming up, and that it was girly-man baseball for the Yanks to play for one run in the first. Reynolds is arguing that your #3 should be able to do everything, including bunt if needed, and that, besides, it worked: A-Rod got on and eventually scored, and the Yankees wound up scoring seven runs. Where can I get some action on a Reynolds-Kruk title fight?
"WEAK HIT" WILLIE FLIES OUT TO GARY SHEFFIELD TO END THE INNING. Grounds crew begins to drag out "Le Tarp".
AS DOES SANDY ALOMAR - Gload scores.
BERNIE CAN TOO FIELD! Aaron "Chanson de" Rowand flies out to deep center, advancing Gload to third.
JUST HEARD THE MAGIC WORDS: "Lightning overhead". This game, and all those loverly Yankees hits, isn't long for this world.
YOU KNOW, BERNIE WAS A BAD ENOUGH FIELDER WHEN HE JUST THREW LIKE A GIRL, but now that he can't run either.... (a.k.a. Ross Gload just blooped one into shallow center.) Great, and now Joe Crede just hit one past A-Rod. Who are these guys?
I HAD A GREAT PUN GAG ABOUT THE CHICAGO-A CENTER FIELDER AND THE SONG OF ROLAND. But then I realized his name is Aaron Rowand. So no pun for you.
OH, HOW I LOVE SLOW ITALIANS: Giambi hammers one to the left-center gap, and trots into second. Honestly, Franklin Roosevelt was faster on the base-paths than #25.
SEE, ANGUS, AS ALWAYS, IS RIGHT: Graman throws a strike, and Paul "Hideki Matsui Will Lead the League in GIDP over my Dead Body" Konerko grounds into - what else - a double play. Inning over.
LESS NICE FOLLOW UP: Graman is throwing around the plate. Dude, you have a six-run lead. Throw strikes!
CARLOS LEE SWINGS AT BALL FOUR, but then takes ball five, and walks.
AND THEN SCORES on a Magglio Ordonez double. Yanks lead down 7-1.
A-ROD ALMOST MAKES A FANTASTIC PLAY, but Uribe gets a single.
NICE START: In front of 32 members of his extended family who've driven up from Indiana, Graman strikes out Willie "The WH Stands for Weak Hit" Harris to start his big league career.
WOW, CRAZY STAT: Alex Graman is the Yankees' first left-handed starter of the season. This is the Yankees' fourteenth game.
VERY GRATIFYING FIRST INNING: Less the seven runs the Yankees scored, then the fact that they did it mostly on walks and singles. Jeter's feet-first slide to lead off the inning set the tone. Me likey small ball. Now, can Alex Graman, in his first-ever big league start, make a 7-0 lead hold up?
NOTE TO HOSNI MUBARAK: at least one American is not all that keen on you, either.
INTERESTING ARTICLE IN SLATE ON THE COLUMBINE KILLERS. Apparently, most of what you think is true about Harris and Klebold and their murderous rampage is not, in fact, true. I wonder what these new data will do to everyone's favorite piece of semi-fictional pseudo-documentary agit prop?

Monday, April 19, 2004

POLYGAMY, HERE WE COME... If you need me I'll be in Provo. (found via Mark Shea)
Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"

You are blue collar and Rock n Roll. You Work hard and party harder.

Friday, April 16, 2004

(A play in one act)

Dramatis Personae
AD, a ruggedly handsome law student
KA, the very young daughter of a big-wig law professor

AD: Bye.
KA: See you Sunday!
AD: I'm sorry, I can't come on Sunday.
KA: [frowns]
AD: I'll tell you what - have your people call my people, we'll work something out.
KA: [very perplexed look]
KA: See you Monday!


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

THE GRAND INQUISITOR ASKS: Is it just me, or is there something not-quite-right about this image? I mean, it's Christ on the Cross, except he's not exactly on the cross. It seems like kind of mish-mash of the Crucifixion and the Ascension. Can't say, exactly, but something about it set off my heterodoxometer. 'Course, my 'doxometer has a bit of a hair-trigger - that's one of my major character flaws (the others being laziness, gluttony, intemperance and lack of self-control). Perhaps I should refer the matter to a member of the Church Militant with a higher pay-grade, like Old Oligarch.
I GET IT, I GET IT: I CAN'T SPELL! Last word on the antediluvian/antedeluvian/antideluvian controversy. The correct spelling is "antediluvian". My initial (wrong) spelling was "antedeluvian", not "antideluvian", as I mistakenly suggested in my first correction. Chalk this up to a mixture of lack of natural spelling ability and the hurried hand with which one posts corrections during one's legislation class. Blogging is as much an art as an art as a science, but it seems of late I've been a little too much Jackson Pollack and not enough Piet Mondrian. I shall endeavor to be more careful in the future.
HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO BLIND? Reader BHW correctly points out that "Waterworld" is not, as a definitional matter, "antediluvian". (He also points out that it's not spelled "antideluvian".) The correct term, I suppose, would be "postdiluvian". Or perhaps just "diluvian". Anyway, I should think twice in the future before throwing around five-dollar words.

Monday, April 12, 2004

ALSO ON TV: Band of Brothers, my all-time favorite TV miniseries. Tonight: "Day of Days", June 6, 1944. The History Channel, every night this week at 9:00.
NOTHING'S FREE IN WATERWORLD. Guess which dystopian antedeluvian epic is being shown on Bravo right now? That's riiiiiight... I actually kind of like "Waterworld". No doubt part of my general fondness for apocalyptic fiction. My favorite, of course, is the genre's "Hamlet" - "A Canticle for Liebowitz" - but even the genre's minor lights tickle my fancy.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

FOR NOW, I MUST SNARK. What does it say about the world that one of the local Fox affiliates, WTIC out of Hartford, chose to celebrate Easter Sunday by broadcasting the movie Striptease in the middle of the afternoon!?!
THE MONKEY WILL JUST HAVE TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE'S BACK TO BE ON. Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty, aka Man-Boobs McGee, has finally won a major tournament. He did it by birdying 18. Boffo. He then immediately went over and hugged his kids. Good man.
WATCHED SOME OF "KING OF KINGS" AFTER MASS. Was struck by the uncanny resemblance of Rip Torn's Judas to Corky St. Clair.
BUBBA! Bub-ba!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

A LITTLE SSM BEFORE I GO-GO. On CSPAN right now is a rerun of Wednesday's Boston University debate on gay marriage. A few thoughts before I run out for a drink.

* My old prof, Hadley Arkes, was there as the professorial voice on the anti-gay marriage side. I love to hear Hadley speak, which was why I stopped surfing when I saw it. I've described the strange hypnotic quality of his voice before, and I can announce without fear of contradiction that he's still got it.

* I was struck by the difference between the argumentation styles of Prof. Arkes and the lead student debater for the pro-gay marriage side. The professor's argument, which I've hear a dozen or so times, is that traditional marriage is critically tied to the "natural teleology of the body" (one of the coolest phrases around): that the begetting of children (the obvious purpose of human sexuality) is an enterprise that requires a specific formula, one man and one woman (no more, no less, and in no different gender-permutations). Once you detach marriage from this "teleology of the body," from procreative sex, in order to extend it to homosexual couples, there is no principled ground for extending it further, to include groups with more than two members, or sterile adult incestuous couples. Or even, as Professor Arkes points out, couples in which there is no pretense of any erotic or romantic bond. Why shouldn't a pair of maiden aunts taking care of an orphaned nephew, or a grandmother and mother taking care of their grandchildren/children, be able to avail themselves of the various benefits we now associate with marriage? Simply because they're not doin' it? And yet, once "marriage" has been expanded this far, to the point where a marriage can include any number of people, and those people can have any conceivable relationship with one another, will "marriage" have any meaning? We'd have a situation in which literally everyone in the United States could marry everyone else, simultaneously. What, then, would be special about "marriage"?

The professor's arguments, as I hope I've laid out, take the form of a logically reasoned argument. You may disagree with his principles, or disagree with the inferences he draws from them, or how he links up inferences, or you may accept his argument and nevertheless pull back from his conclusions. But you can, at least, see his argument. You can watch as he takes you from A to B to C and finally to D. You can disagree with his argument, but at least you can know, with some degree of certainty, what the argument is that you're disagreeing with.

The lead student debater, who from the comments made by others I take to be held in high esteem by the Boston University forensics community, had a different style. I would call it emotional-demagogic, if I felt I could without suggesting negative connotations I don't mean to suggest. Whatever the name of the style, his speech was notably more difficult for me to diagram than the professor's. He began by speaking of the lowly status of women in colonial and pre-20th century America, in which they had few rights and could not even form legal contracts (truth indeed). Then he turned to the long ban on interracial marriage in the country, which he rightly decried as shameful. (At this point in his speech I got up to pee; if I missed a crucial logical point, I apologize.) By the time I got back, he was talking about how shows like "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" have debased the institution of marriage, and how appalling the country's divorce rates are. Then he brings up Brittany Spears' micro-marriage, which lead to the inevitable-in-debates-about-SSM point: if Brittany Spears can marry some shlep from Louisiana because it's Vegas, it's 5:00 am, and she's bored, and get a divorce the next day [an annulment, actually, but who's counting], why can't a pair of lesbians who love each other and are dedicated to each other tie the knot. Then he quotes Plato (in response to the good professor's ancient name-dropping), specifically the theory of the origin of love from the Symposium (you know, people cut in half, searching for their other half, etc. cf: Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

All of which, through a species of rhetorical prestidigitation, becomes: the government should sanction same-sex marriages. I hope, perhaps, I've made my point by indirection. His argument, as near as I can tell, was a) that we refused to permit certain types of marriages in the past, and that was wrong; therefore, when we refuse to permit certain types of marriage today, that's wrong;† and b) "traditional marriage," as the professor outlines it, isn't really what we have today - so why use that as a straw-man to deny gay couples the right to participate in the tumultuous, screwed-up, never-quite-works-out institution straight couples actually experience. Anyway, I think those are the arguments; you have to pan pretty adeptly through the river mud of his verbiage to get to the gold-nuggets of his point. By its tone, the speech was not really an argument designed to persuade, at least in a logical way. It was designed to make people feel a certain way. Especially, I think, it was designed to make the generally pro-gay marriage audience feel good about their support for gay marriage. Not to arm them with compelling arguments to convert opponents, but to remind them of why they're on the side of the angels. It's worth noting that the student debater left the podium to applause, while Professor Arkes left to the sound of the papers of his prepare speech ruffling up against his microphone.

* My final observation in this rapidly growing post is that the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage are themselves about enshrining a certain degree of bigotry in the law. The student debater's meta-argument he summarized in one sentence, which he repeated over and over: he wants to live in a country where someone could marry the person of their choice. Yet, if pressed, he surely would have said he supports laws preventing siblings from marrying, or preventing a man who's already married from taking on a second wife without divorcing his first. And yet, even if there is legally recognized same-sex marriage, if a man wants to marry his sister but cannot because the law forbids it, would we really live in a country where a person can marry the person of their choice?

The argument of the mainstream proponents of same-sex marriage is basically "Equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples! Polyamorists and consanguinosexuals can go to hell!" which isn't an unreasonable argument. After all, Saudi princes and sister-lovers should fight their own battles; gays don't have some kind of moral imperative to be the champions of every non-traditional sexual persuasion. But they should recognize a) that when they say they want everyone to be able to marry the person of their choice, they don't really mean it; and b) defining marriage as between two unrelated persons, they are, by their own logic, enshrining in the law the deliberate exclusion from marriage rights of certain sexual minorities, with no greater justification (that I can see) than that those groups are small, and relatively powerless, and unpopular, and closeted. Gosh, that sounds strangely familiar...

†The logically stronger, if rhetorically weaker, version of this argument I actually agree with: that given that we were wrong when we denied interracial couples the right to marry a half-century ago, we ought to carefully consider our arguments for not extending marriage rights to new groups seeking them today, to be certain our justifications are not merely a mask for irrational prejudice.
MANSFIELD FOX: TOO HOT FOR TV? No, probably not.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE QUERY(S): Let's say the Supreme Court upholds the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Elk Grove School District v. Nedow, and it becomes unconstitutional across the country for public schools to start the day off with the pledge of allegiance if it includes the phrase "under God." What happens then?

* Public schools become a pledge-free zone, just like they're now a prayer-free zone, but the pledge, complete with "under God," continues to run wild elsewhere: private and religious schools, the Congress, flag-factories. So we get to keep the pledge, with all it's attendant religious establishment and/or ceremonial deism, but vulnerable public school children will (deo gratias) be protected from its pernicious doctrines.


* Public schools will continue to begin the morning with the pledge of allegiance, albeit one purged of the offending phrase.

If it's the latter (which I think more likely) this raises other questions. Will everyone start using the new, abridged pledge? Or will a two-track system develop, in which the public schools use one pledge and other institutions use another? (For a parallel, think of the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Lord's Prayer.) And, if public schools start using the new "clipped" pledge, what happens if kids start voluntarily inserting "under God" back in? Are schools going to start punishing those pint-sized civil disobedients? Would that violate the Establishment Clause?
BUT ALL FOR NAUGHT... Despite Koch's pitching and fielding misadventures, the Yankees lose (the-e-e Yankees Lose!). Once again, the Bombers were undone by heir mysterious love of the long fly-out. Well, better luck next time.
BUT THEN THERE'S KOCH, who just committed an "Angus-style" high-and-away throwing error, allowing Gary Sheffield to get on. And then allowed a real purty single up the middle to Jorge Posada, which scored Sheff. Oh, Billy, Billy, Billy....
HE'S ERRORILICIOUS! ERRORTASTIC! ERRORIFFIC! Miguel Cairo just committed what seems like his fourth error of the afternoon. It's always an adventure with that guy. (Note: they awarded Ordoñez a double. Riiiiiiiiight...)
TO QUOTE THE TEACHER FROM PEANUTS: "WAH-WAH" Remember that potential elbow injury to Andy Pettitte that the Yankees were worried about? Heh.
NOTE TO SELF: next time, do not follow up Good Friday fast with Holy Saturday cheesesteak. Tummy hurts...
KIND OF A NONSENSE POST but I've finally got my big basso voice back. No more sexy Irish tenor for me, no-no.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

QUIT YER BITCHING ABOUT AIRPORT SECURITY. Quoth Slate's Tim Noah, "I don't mind being the haystack, because Sept. 11 taught me that there are needles out there." I agree. A few months after September 11th, I did some flying between Hartford and Washington. I was always bothered that I wasn't being searched more thoroughly at the gate. I had, I think, the kind of profile they should have been watching out for: young (21), male, with a thick beard, an unusual name, little luggage, one-way tickets, an almost out-of-date passport that doesn't look like me, a driver's license that has a different birthdate on it than the passport (long story), &c. I'm not a terrorist, of course, but you wouldn't know that to look at me (or at least, you wouldn't've at the time). I thought then, and still do, that people like me, rather than randomly selected grandmothers, ought to face elevated scrutiny in airports and the like. Of course it's an inconvenience, but it's a reasonable one, and one that makes the country, and me, safer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

THOUGHTS HAD WHILE WATCHING THE NCAA TITLE GAME: Am I the only one who thinks Luke Schenscher was cloned from mole scrapings from the back of Brian Scalabrine's neck? Is there any way we can get the Kass Commission to look into this?

Monday, April 05, 2004

*ANGUS SHUDDERS* What is it with Alanis Morissette and being naked? And what is it with a naked Alanis Morissette and my night terrors?