Tagged: Race

Quasi-Literate Racist Asshole Jim DeBerry of Definitive Television Threatens To Sue Above The Law For Calling His Video Racist

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If you want to be a quasi-literate racist asshole, go right ahead. It's a free country. There are lots of quasi-literate racist assholes around and it's unlikely you will distinguish yourself. I trust the marketplace of ideas to assign appropriate social consequences to you and your business. I may or may not help distribute those social consequences depending on the degree to which you irritate me.

But when you start threatening to sue people for pointing out that you're a racist asshole, I feel that you are going out of your way to antagonize me. I feel that it's time to put on my cockroach-stomping boots.

You might have seen the coverage at Lowering the Bar or FindLaw or numerous other sites of a breathtakingly racist caricature in a purported law firm advertisement produced by a company called Definitive Television, the vehicle of one Jim DeBerry of DeBar Holdings Ltd. The advertisement features a man dressed up in an Asian-caricature costume using an Asian-caricature voice to recommend a law firm called McCutcheon & Hamner, PC in Alabama. The caricature is a character Definitive TV offers to its clients. Definitive TV is a little defensive about it right out of the gate:

IF YOU ARE ON A SENSITIVE WITCH HUNT OUR SUGGESTION IS TO FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION TO MURDERERS, DRUG DEALERS, CHILD MOLESTERS THAT LIVE NEAR BY YOU.

So touchy!

When Joe Patrice at Above the Law reported on this, two things happened. First, the law firm of McCutcheon & Hamner PC claimed that it had been "hacked" and that it did not approve the commercial. That may or may not be true. Second, Jim DeBerry wrote Above the Law and threatened to sue for suggesting that the advertisement is racist.

The threat is a masterful example of sub-literate drivel from a self-important tool who thinks he's learned law from ten minutes on Google, seven of which were spent looking at lolcats. There's the moronic "it's not racist under this dictionary definition I chose" rhetoric:

We object to the statements of racism, as we do not fit under the legal definition, which is, The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

There's the bizarre use of commas, odd diction, and weird capitalization that suggest that Jim DeBerry just took a break from sending 419 scam emails:

Furthermore, upon your interview request, we have read MR. JOSEPH PATRICE article/blog

YOU MAY FIND IT ODD THAT I EMAIL YOU BUT I HAVE A BUSINESS PROPOSITION FOR YOU MR. JOSEPH PATRICE. I AM THE QUEEN OF ROMANIA.

Finally, there's the barely-coherent jibber-jabber threat:

We firmly believe MR. JOSEPH PATRICE statements of racism when done with intentional malice and to damage our name for gain of revenue and promotion on his article through your business. Mr. Patrice is not stupid or ignorant, by lacking intelligence or common sense. By all appearances, He is educated and he fully understood the reckless racist statement claims with intentional malice he chose to type and for yourself to distribute when he submitted for article creation in which you accepted. We are currently consulting with another party regarding how we should pursue action against the libel statements made by Mr. Patrice, through your company, and others.

I will accept a retraction and apology related to the racist claims made by MR. JOSEPH PATRICE published by your company.

Let's be clear: Jim DeBerry's legal threat is complete bullshit and shows that he's pig-ignorant in addition to a racist. When Above the Law or any other blog or individual looks at DeBery's douchey video and calls it racist, that's a classic statement of opinion absolutely protected by the First Amendment. Above the Law didn't claim that DeBerry's company produced a racist video based on a secret review of some undisclosed videotape. If that had been the case, DeBerry might argue that Above the Law was implying false undisclosed facts. Instead, Above the Law and other commentators are offering opinions based on a specific disclosed fact — the video. You might not share the opinion that the video is racist, or that it reflects racist attitudes by the people who produced it. That's your prerogative. But calling the video racist — and calling the classless untalented hacks who shat it out racists — is classic opinion. As I have explained before, such an opinion is protected by the First Amendment:

This is not a case of opinion premised on false unstated facts, as if someone said "based on what I overheard Donna Barstow say, she is a racist." Rather it's pure opinion based on disclosed facts — the very cartoons she complains they posted. (Note that this strengthens the fair use argument.) Partington v. Bugliosi, 56 F.3d 1147, 1156–1157 (9th Cir.1995) ("when an author outlines the facts available to him, thus making it clear that the challenged statements represent his own interpretation of those facts and leaving the reader free to draw his own conclusions, those statements are generally protected by the First Amendment.") Such accusations of racism are routinely protected as opinion by the courts. See, for instance, Rambo v. Cohen, 587 N.E.2d 140, 149 (Ind.Ct.App.1992) (statement that plaintiff was “anti-Semitic” was protected opinion); Stevens v. Tillman, 855 F.2d 394, 402 (7th Cir.1988) (Illinois law) (accusations of “racism”); Smith v. Sch. Dist. of Phila., 112 F.Supp.2d 417, 429–30 (E.D.Pa.2000) (granting judgment on the pleadings after concluding that the accusation of racism was an opinion); Martin v. Brock, No. 07C3154, 2007 WL 2122184, at *3 (N.D.Ill. July 19, 2007) (accusation of racism is nonactionable opinion in Illinois); Lennon v. Cuyahoga Cnty. Juvenile Ct., No. 86651, 2006 WL 1428920, at * 6 (Ohio Ct.App. May 25, 2006) (concluding that in the specific context of the accusation, calling a co-worker racist was nonactionable opinion); Puccia v. Edwards, No. 98–00065, 1999 WL 513895, at *3–4 (Mass.Super.Ct. Apr. 28, 1999) (concluding accusations of racism are nonactionable opinion); Covino v. Hagemann, 165 Misc.2d 465, 627 N.Y.S.2d 894, 895–96 (N.Y.Sup.Ct.1995) (concluding statement that plaintiff had “racially sensitive attitude” is not actionable). By contrast, cases finding that accusations of racism were actionable defamation usually involved implication of false facts. See, for instance, Overhill Farms v. Lopez, 190 Cal.App.4th 1248 (2010) (accusation that business fired workers for racial reasons was a statement of fact distinguishable from a mere opinion that farm owners were racist). And those are just the cases I found in about five minutes whilst distracted by yelling at an associate.

Similarly, if I said "I've reviewed his personal papers and Jim DeBerry is illiterate," that might be defamatory, because I'm implying potentially false facts. But that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that Jim DeBerry's idiotic legal threat, which I've linked, shows that he's less literate than the average penis-enlargement spammer — in addition to being a racist douchebag. That's opinion based on disclosed facts and therefore absolutely protected.

Before closing comments on the YouTube video, someone (consider the diction and grammar, and guess who) from Definitive TV wrote this:

We are respect your 1st amendment right and your freedom of opinion and speech on our comment board and will approve your comments. Due to the overwhelming feedback (50% positive and 50% negative) and at the request of McCutheon & Hamner at Law we have elected to disable the comment thread. We may open the comment section back up soon when we can reply.

Of course, this is wrong. YouTube is private and Definitive TV is private and nobody has a First Amendment right to post comments there if YouTube and Definitive TV don't want them to. But Definitive TV's mention of the First Amendment here is more than a little erratic, given their bogus legal threat to Above the Law. Maybe being a racist douchebag all the time is mentally taxing.

So: don't let the stupid threats of the Jim DeBerrys of the world chill you. Instead, call them out.

And I propose, to commemorate Mr. DeBerry's idiocy forever, that we make "We are respect your 1st amendment right!" a catchphrase for dealing with such censorious thugs.

What Kind of Nutter Calls For Censorship?

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When a public official acts like a censorious asshat, and flogs one of my least-favorite stupid pro-censorship quotes, and is named "Nutter," my fundamentally suspicious and misanthropic nature leads me to look around nervously. Am I being Akbarred here? Or is this giddy warmth and pre-pounce quivering anticipation I feel further evidence of a God that loves me?

It's the giddy warmth one.

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Progress Kentucky: Vigilant Against Every Type of Alien Threat

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I am not a fan of Mitch McConnell, even though I am impressed that he has a lifespan of over 100 years and is the 10th-heaviest living reptile. However, I lack any animus against him based on the ethnic background of his wife. This distinguishes me from a PAC called Progress Kentucky

SoProgressive

This attitude earned Progress Kentucky not only the anger of conservatives, but the scorn of the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Talking Points Memo. And you know what they say — if you've lost the New York Times, then you're not going to get a trend story about you, even if a New York Times reporter hears about you from her Pilates instructor.

Progress Kentucky's response to criticism has not been exactly on message. They've gone with a modified sorry-if-you're-offended-by-our-intern:

A spokesman, Curtis Morrison, told WFPL, “It’s not an official statement. It’s a Tweet. And we will remove if it’s wrong.”

They've also asserted that accusing them of race-baiting is unfair, because when we accuse them of emphasizing McConnell is married to a woman of Chinese descent, we ignore that her father is also Chinese and is reputed to have gone to school with Chinese people.

As you can see from that tweet above, Progress Kentucky cites and promotes — and might have picked up its public relations skills from — Rense.com, a site that stands for a great American political truth: the more fearless and truth-seeking a political organization, the more likely it is to advertise questionable herbal supplements. Give Rense.com its due — would non-Progressive sites promote and link you to multiple posts disclosing the alien threat, or would they conceal it from you?

Hi, welcome back to 1996.

Hi, welcome back to 1996.

And what can you learn through those links?

Why would humans, (no matter how psychopathic), poison our environment with radiation, crude oil & chemtrails and put cancer causing GMO’s in our food? Answer, they wouldn’t, and they aren’t. These things are being done by the same cold, calculating pernicious evil that has controlled the course of events on this planet for thousands and thousands of years. Evidently the talking monkeys figure things out after enough time goes by, and they revolt, and have to be put down, hard. No problem, pernicious evil is patient, and will begin all over again after each mass extermination, uh, er, extinction event.

We are in Progress Kentucky's debt for its willingness to point out the threat of each and every type of alien.

But you probably shouldn't take my word for it. Like McConnell, I'm in league with them.

FEARMYDIMPLESMORTAL

More of the Things They Will Say To Your Face

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Nancy French pointed me to this great video that illustrates the sort of comments you get from people when you are out and about as a multiracial family (often, but not always, an adoptive one). Been there, heard that.

Regular readers may recall that last year I collected comments from adoptive parents on an adoptive forum and posted them to demonstrate some of what humanity has to offer.

Like I said before, the point of this is not to throw a pity party for adoptive parents. Any discussion of transracial adoption shouldn't be all about the adoptive parents' feelings. Rather, calling this sort of thing out is about (1) preparing parents to deal with such situations in a way that's constructive for their kids, (2) whistling past the graveyard — a sharing of the experience, and (3) laughing about the brokenness and general asshatitude of humanity.

Dirty Asians Set Marion Barry Up!

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Marion Barry is on a lifelong quixotic quest to stand out, even in Washington D.C., as a living refutation of the viability of representative government. This week, after winning a council primary (which, it appears, he would have won even if he had strangled a kitten on camera), Marion continued to be Marion:

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said on Tuesday night, according to video posted by WRC-TV/NBC4. “They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

Certain theoreticians and academicians, and the sort of people who take them seriously, inform us that only white people can be racist. (Occasionally people outside the academy use this trope when it suits their immediate political goal: see, e.g., "the shooting couldn't possibly have been motivated by race because the shooter is Latino.")

In the real world, the world occupied by people like Marion Barry, we know that certain theoreticians and academicians are full of shit.

[Edited to add the word "certain," without which the point is unclear and/or unfair.]

Lowe's, "All-American Muslim," And Living From The Inside Out

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Part One: Lowe's Decision

This week home improvement mega-chain Lowe's pulled its advertising from the TLC channel's show All-American Muslim. TLC describes the show like this:

All-American Muslim takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan–home to the largest mosque in the United States–through the lens of five Muslim American families.

Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.

To some Americans — for example, the Florida Family Association — this portrayal was unacceptable. Does "All-American Muslim" portray Hamas suicide bombers sympathetically? Does it glamorize calls for the destruction of Israel? Does it suggest that honor killings are a rational method of maintaining good family order?

No. All that "All-American Muslim" does is fail to depict such issues. The quarrel of people like the Florida Family Association is that "All-American Muslim" portrays a group of Muslim-Americans as regular folks, faced with regular challenges, with blowing people up and imposing Sharia Law on the West not among them. This, to the Florida Family Association, is necessarily propaganda:

The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.

One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated "I really am American. No ifs and or buts about it." This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity. Dearborn Police falsely arrested Nabeel Qureshi and Paul Rezkalla in 2010 and Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg in 2009 for preaching Christianity at the Annual Arab International Festival. Information on these two arrests are posted below.

The first two episodes start off with Muslim youth complaining about non-Muslim Americans’ perception of them as extremists after 911. The show then reports on these youths’ daily, weekly and monthly prayer rituals. Many Imams who are at the head of these prayer rituals believe strongly in Islam and Sharia law. This TLC show clearly failed to connect the dots on this point but then again that appears to be their intent.

In other words, the FFA believes that it is propaganda to portray some American Muslims as regular people without mentioning that there are also some Muslims who are extremists. Imagine, for a moment, applying this logic to other religious groups. Imagine arguing that it's propaganda to portray a Jewish family without mentioning Baruch Goldstein or Irv Rubin or the USS Liberty "for balance." Imagine attacking any of the many television shows portraying Catholics on the grounds that they do not depict clerical molestation of children. Imagine saying that "Big Love" is propaganda not because of its portrayal of polygamy but because it fails to spend enough time depicting Mormons like Ron and Don Lafferty. Imagine saying that it is propaganda to portray conservative Christians (like those in the Florida Family Association) without mentioning people like Eric Rudolph.

Well, actually, it's not too hard to imagine any of those. America is full of nuts saying stupid, stupid things about popular entertainment.

But it is hard to imagine a major company like Lowe's caving to such an argument about other faiths other than Islam. And make no mistake — spin as they might, Lowe's did cave here:

While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe's advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe's will no longer be advertising on that program.

Our goal is to provide the best service, products and shopping environment in the home improvement industry. We appreciate your feedback and will share your comments with our advertising department as they evaluate future advertising opportunities.

Lowe's is now desperately trying to pretend that it didn't cave to the FFA, and that it just sort of coincidentally decided that "All-American Muslim" is unsuitable:

Lowe's spokesman Katie Cody clarified, insisting that the reason why they stopped their ads was not solely the Florida Family Association.

'We understand the program raised concerns, complaints, or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show,' she said.

'It is certainly never Lowe's intent to alienate anyone,' she continued.

The Florida Family Foundation, triumphant, can wander off to pester other advertisers for buying ads on shows that fail to portray homosexuality as an E-ticket ride to Hell. Lowe's, having caved to the FFA, is now reaping the whirlwind and trying desperately to please everybody:

It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective – social, political and otherwise – and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry. We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment.

Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.

Lowe's apologia merely hands a roadmap to anyone who wants them to pull advertisements from shows in the future. It's also bringing out the attitudes of their supporters, and the supporters of the Florida Family Association. The comments on their Facebook post show off the folks who support them and the FFA. Take Dr. Dan S. Gilliam, Sr., apparently a psychologist in Wildorado, Texas, who says "I guess it is time to return to Lowe's. At least they can hear and analyze what customers say about promoting a race that would like to kill Americans. If you don't believe that, then you have your head in the sand." Personally I wasn't aware that Muslims are a race, but then I'm not licensed in Texas. There's Billie Jo Connor of Berwyck, Pennsylvania, who is either confusing Muslims with Latinos or is trolling me: "Welcome to america everyone comes from different backgrounds but i for one believe if u come here u should learn english and we should not press 1 to hear someone who i can understand im not gonna learn another language to live in the good ole USA! Merry Christmas!" Or there's Mary Calkins Malone of Yelm, Washington, who has grasped the core message of the FFA that Lowe's has endorsed through its action: "Yay, Lowe's! I don't think All-American and Muslim should be in the same sentence."

Part Two: Americans Living From the Outside In and From the Inside Out

The Florida Family Association is wrong. Lowe's was wrong to yield to it.

Earlier this year, when I wrote about the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I discussed a theme our pastor emphasizes that has become very significant to me:

A life lived from the outside in is a life defined by what has happened to me. A life lived from the inside out is a life defined by how I conducted myself in reaction to what happened to me. We should not define ourselves as the nation that was attacked on 9/11. We should define ourselves as the nation that stood up again, dusted itself off, looked to the injured, honored its dead, and persevered after 9/11.

It is beyond question that some Muslims are violent religious extremists who will kill Americans if they can. It's even beyond question that some such Muslims are here in America. It's clear that some Muslims favor imposition of Sharia law — antithetical to American values like equality and freedom of expression and worship — upon societies, and that some harbor a grand ambition to impose Sharia law here in America.

But those Muslims — however many of them there are — are powerless to change America's nature by themselves. The most horrific terrorist act, the most aggressive campaign to impose their religious values upon us — none of that can, by itself, alter fundamental American traditions and values. Those traditions and values were born in rebellion and deprivation, raised on the frontier, toughened through slow and painful progress from wrong towards right. They include hard work, fair play, due process, equality before the law, liberty, and individuality. Terrorist bombs cannot quell them.

But Americans' reactions to terrorist bombs could.

Americans could live from the inside out — we could define ourselves as the people who defend equality and free expression and freedom of worship and freedom from government interference no matter what, in good times and bad, come what may. Our we can live from the outside in. We could define ourselves as "the country that was attacked by Muslims and now is at war with Islam." God knows that's how people like the Florida Family Association wants us to see ourselves — a fond wish they share with both actual Muslim extremists and lip-service-paying dictators in Muslim countries, who dream of the power they would reap from America declaring war on all Muslims. By doing that, we'd not only commit ourselves to total and endless war, we'd change what America is in response to the threat of Islamic extremism. Muslim fanatics wouldn't have to destroy America — we'd do it for them by turning it into something different, something else, something small and ugly and inglorious. We would abandon consistent and ordered liberty for the vain hope of safety. "Liberty," said Learned Hand, "lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." (Thanks to Mike for reminding me of that quote.)

We've flirted with doing this, after 9/11. We've allowed the government to assume much broader powers, unreviewable powers, upon the premise that "9/11 changed everything." That danger is not past. And the mindset displayed by the Florida Family Association and endorsed by Lowe's threatens to push us much, much closer to the abyss. People like the Florida Family Association believe that there is no such thing as an "All-American Muslim" — that "Muslim-American" is an inherently contradictory term. They might agree in theory that America is a land of freedom of expression, but they will employ some categorical dodge to explain their position on Islam — like the increasingly popular "Islam is a political agenda, not a religion." (Note that this appeal to the categorical is exactly how the government convinces us to hand it more and more power over us — by saying things like "this belongs in the 'terrorism' box, not the 'freedom' box.")

So, such people want to affix an asterisk to "Muslim-American." That asterisk is indelible and stains us all, as surely as if we agreed "there is no such thing as a Jewish-American, because Jews have divided loyalties to Israel" or "there is no such thing as Catholic-Americans, because Catholics have divided loyalties to the Pope." No doubt there are some Muslims divided between American values and the values of Islamic extremists, just like there are some Jews divided between American values and the best interests of Israel and some Catholics divided between American values and papal edicts. But it is a central tenet of the mighty American experiment that we should treat people as individuals based on their abilities and acts, not based upon their origins or creeds. If we accept the proposition "we welcome all religions except Islam" or "we recognize freedom of religion for everyone except Muslims" or "we treat everyone equally except for Muslims, because of what some Muslims have done or want to do to us," or even the milder "any Muslim must be viewed with suspicion; no Muslim can be portrayed without a reminder that some Muslims are grave threats," we become a nation that lives from the outside in. We re-define ourselves based on wrongs done to us, rather than continuing to define ourselves by what we are capable of doing in the face of any challenge or any wrong.

It's fashionable, in some quarters, to call words like these naive. Islam is different, we're told. Sharia law is on the march, they cry. You're a fool to extend protections to people that they would never offer to you. But if hewing to these values is naive, I'll live with being naive. Frankly, I think that the mindset of the Florida Family Association and their ilk offers far more fertile soil for Sharia law than tolerance. I'm not worried about secular humanists (or "liberal" Presbyterians like me) yielding to Sharia law some day. I'm far more worried about the sort of people who invoke "America is a Christian nation!" to every social, cultural, legal, or political issue. These are the people, I fear, who are already susceptible to the belief that dogma trumps everything.

Make no mistake: the Florida Family Association and its members have the freedom to call for boycotts of anything they want. Lowe's can cave to the advertising-related demands of any cultural group they want; they're a private entity and they have rights too. But the rest of us also have freedoms. I submit we should use those freedoms to criticize Lowe's and defy the mindset of groups like the Florida Family Association. Let's define ourselves by continuing to defend core American values even when facing tremendous threats. Let's live from the inside out.

Questions For Delta Airlines About Its Partnership With Saudi Arabian Airlines, And Treatment of Israelis and Jews

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This story is breaking as I write this, and some of the details are in dispute. But the facts appear to be these:

1. Delta Airlines is entering into a partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines through SkyTeam, a group of "code-sharing" airlines.

2. Saudi Arabian Airlines, owned and controlled by the Saudi government, enforces a number of the Saudi government's restrictions on travelers. One of these is a prohibition on non-Islamic religious materials:

Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are also prohibited. These may include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others. Makkah and Medina hold special religious significance and only persons of the Islamic faith are allowed entry.

3. Saudi Arabian Airlines also enforces Saudi Arabia's ban on entry by citizens of Israel or people who have Israeli stamps in their passports (that is, people who have traveled to Israel).

4. Today USA Today reported, and then withdrew, claims that Saudi Arabian Airlines sometimes prevents Jews — or people it believes to be Jews — from flying. A USA Today blog later printed claims that some Jews have been able to travel to Saudi Arabia without incident. Though some sources continue to assert that Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabian Airlines have some kind of "no Jews" policy, I submit there is grounds to ask for proof on this issue.

5. Delta's response to date has been to say that it is bound by the travel restrictions of the countries to which it flies, but not to clarify what it understands Saudi Arabian Airlines' rules are or will be.

Based on that, I have some questions for Delta Airlines, an American company, to determine my position on its policy, and whether it merits a boycott:

1. Is it your understanding that Saudi Arabian Airlines does not permit Israelis, or people with Israeli passport stamps, to fly with them?

2. Have you conducted any due diligence to determine whether there is cause to believe that Saudi Arabian Airlines excludes fliers it believes are Jewish?

3. When you are partnered with Saudi Arabian Airlines through SkyTeam, what (if anything) will be your role in connection with travelers attempting to book flights to Saudi Arabia?
(a) Will customers be able to book travel on Saudi Arabian Airlines through your web site or other facilities?
(b) Will Delta advertisements include information about flights on Saudi Arabian Airlines?
(c) Will any Saudi Arabian Airlines flights be branded as Delta flights, or vice-versa?
(d) Will any Delta web sites, advertisements, phone systems, or information materials include warnings regarding restrictions on Israelis or people with Israeli passports, or about non-Islamic religious materials?
(e) Will any Delta employees have any role in inspecting passports to prevent Israelis, or people with Israeli stamps on their passports, from checking in, clearing security, or boarding Saudi Arabian Airlines flights?
(f) Will any Delta employees have any role in preventing people from boarding with non-Islamic religious materials?

4. Does Delta partner with any other airline that prohibits nationals of a particular country from flying? Does Delta partner with any other airline that offers flights to a destination country that prohibits nationals of a particular country from flying?

5. If someone provides Delta with credible evidence that, at least on some occasions, Saudi Arabian Airlines prohibits people from flying because it believes those people are Jewish, will Delta continue its partnership with them?

6. Is Delta proud of its partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines?

Answering these questions might help defuse this public relations crisis.

Or not . . . .

Edited to add: to be a little less coy, I think that if the whole "Jews can't fly" thing is an internet hoax — certainly possible — then there's no reason for Delta not to come out strongly and say so immediately. Even if that part is a hoax, though, I think the other questions — about what role Delta will take, if any, in Saudi Arabian Airlines policy of excluding Israelis and religious materials — are apt.

Edited again: At Volokh Conspiracy, David Kopel has thoughts about the evidence of any anti-Jewish policy and the role of Delta. Also at Hot Air.

Edited a third time: If Delta merely checked whether passengers have a visa from Saudi Arabia (which would necessarily involve Saudi Arabia checking to see if they had an Israeli passport, or an Israeli stamp on their passport), that would be different; I leave it to you to discuss how different.

You Didn't Have To Be A Dick About It

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You've probably heard that San Francisco voters will consider a ballot measure to ban circumcision in the city. It's a controversial topic; there are hotly contested medical, social, and individual rights arguments on both sides. I'm not going to try to resolve them: I was circumcised, my son isn't, I see arguments on both sides.

Some Jewish leaders view the initiative as an anti-Semitic attack. It need not be one, necessarily — the circumcision rate in the United States hovers around 50%, while Jews make up only about 2% of the U.S. population (and observant Jews less than that). Moreover, there are many arguments to be made against circumcision that do not depend on denigration of religion.

It would take a heroic effort to frame this dispute as primarily one of anti-Semitism in time for the vote.

Help us, Foreskin Man!

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A White Supremacist BLAST FROM THE PAST!

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Hey, remember Bill Johnson?

Bill Johnson, racist lunatic who (under one of his assumed names) proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow only certain whites to vote? Bill Johnson, who tried to ditch that racist lunatic past and run for Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County? Bill Johnson, who made it onto the Ron Paul 2008 endorsement list until someone noticed his history of racial lunacy and threw him under the blimp? Bill Johnson, local boy in my hometown, who inspired ridiculously incompetent news coverage by my local rag?

He's still around.

When the story broke that judicial candidate Bill Johnson was also known as James O. Pace, author of the Pace Amendment, reaction from Johnson supporters (which included, but were not limited to, Ron Paul supporters) were dubious and/or angry. Not angry at Johnson — angry at people who criticized him. The forums are deleted now, but some supporters asserted that the whole story was all a trick. Many others suggested that Bill Johnson must have changed, that he's no racist, that he was real friendly to non-whites now, and that if he ever was a racist he isn't one now, and this is all just liberal Obama race-card playing.

Yeah. About that.

Via a trackback to my original Bill Johnson post, I discovered a "white nationalist" website reporting on a "white nationalist" entering a Congressional race in Montana. From passing references there, I learned that Bill Johnson is now the Chairman of something called America Third Position, which "exists to represent the political interests of White Americans." His biography notes that he is "more than any other, responsible for safeguarding the course, values, and program of the party."

So, Johnson-for-Judge supporters, how's that apologia looking now?

(I leave it to the imagination of the reader whether a white nationalist site would link to my original post about Johnson to identify him because (1) they didn't read it, (2) they're stupid, or (3) they don't give a shit that it's not complimentary.)

(By the way: Johnson lives (or until very recently lived) within a few miles of me. My wife and I are white, but our kids are Asian-American. Writing about him and people like him tends to attract the sort of people who have a history of inciting threats and violence against people they don't like, with success. However, please remember that Very Serious People think that I should not blog anonymously and that you should think less of me if I do.)

Free Speech And The Urge To Genuflect

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When UCLA student Alexandra Wallace posted her moronic anti-Asian rant to YouTube, she felt compelled to preface it with an increasingly standard disclaimer

So we know that I'm not the most politically correct person so don't take this offensively. I don't mean it toward any of my friends I mean it toward random people that I don't even know in the library. So, you guys are not the problem.

All the modern "I can say whatever I want, and you're unreasonable to object" tropes are there — the meretricious invocation of "political correctness" (meant to imply that anyone who objects to what follows is a censorious ideologue), the whiff of "oh, I don't think of YOU as being Asian," and the request that listeners not take offense, invoked as if it changed the meaning and natural tendency of what followed.

Wallace then proceeded to vent, to the best of her bubble-headed ability, her spleen against UCLA students of Asian descent. The shit hit the fan. UCLA — acting correctly — said it would not discipline her for bigoted speech spewed onto the internet, but the tide of infamy has led her to flee.

Allow me a sweeping generalization: nobody ever said anything worthwhile after beginning "I know this isn't politically correct, but . . ." or "I'm not racist, but" or "I have nothing against gays/blacks/Asians/Muslims/whatever, but . . . ." It's not because there's never been a worthwhile statement that could be construed — or misconstrued — as politically incorrect or bigoted. It's because if the speaker had anything worthwhile to say, they wouldn't feel the urge to preface it with an unconvincing disclaimer. They'd say what they had to say, let it rise or fall on its own merits, and accept the consequences, like a grown-up.

Starting out with "you know I'm not politically correct" or "I know this isn't politically correct" or "Not to sound like a racist or anything, but . . ." is a form of special pleading, and a sign of moral and intellectual weakness. Its a request that the listener exempt the following statement from the listener reaction that naturally and probably follows it. It's shorthand — the long form is "Look, I'm not prepared — or perhaps not capable — of presenting a cogent argument about why it's not reasonable for you to take offense at what I'm about to say. And I sure don't have the stones to assert that it doesn't matter whether you are offended or not. So, could you please let me off the hook on what I'm about to say? Please?" It shows an urge to genuflect towards listener sensibilities, but an unwillingness or inability to confront them or defy them. Statements like "I know this isn't politically correct" also have more than a whiff of bootstrapping — of the suggesting that a sentiment has inherent merit because it is offensive to someone. That might wash with simple-minded folks like Bill Maher, but most of us can recognize it as bullshit.

Alexandra Wallace might as well have launched her rant by saying, "Look, I'm a ditz and an asshole. So it would be totally uncool for anyone to react badly when I act like a ditz and an asshole."

There's a flip side to this, though. There's also pressure to genuflect towards sensibilities when we discuss behavior like Wallace's. A discussion of whether or not the First Amendment permits UCLA to discipline Wallace for her speech does not and should not require a ritualistic denunciation of Wallace's behavior. People who find overtly hostile sweeping generalizations about Asians will recognize her rant as offensive whether or not a writer tells them to. People who don't find it offensive still won't even if they encounter a First Amendment analysis suggesting that they should. A demand that any discussion include a sufficient critique of racism infantalizes readers and encourages the worst right-wing stereotypes of academia. Moreover, it erodes civic literacy. A First Amendment analysis ought to be judged on its legal merits, not on its ideological compliance.

You'd think that's obvious. It's not. Blogger Angus Johnston at the blog Student Activism criticized FIRE for failing to condemn Wallace sufficiently in analyzing the First Amendment implications of her speech. In fact, by his title, Johnston suggests that a failure to condemn speech sufficiently is the equivalent of defending the content of the speech, as opposed to the right to utter the speech. Moreover:

Alexandra Wallace’s speech was detestable. If you’re going to defend it on principle, there’s no reason not to admit that.

Well, there is a reason, actually. Whether speech is "detestable" is not pertinent to the question of whether it is protected. If a writer is moved to condemn offensive speech (or ridicule the speaker, which is more our style here), there's nothing wrong with it. But measuring the value of free speech analysis by the extent to which it condemns the speakers and soothes those offended is a distraction — and more than faintly insulting to the offended besides.

In a follow-up, Johnston argues that FIRE downplays and misrepresents the offensive nature of speech it defends:

Again, I respect FIRE’s principles as articulated. I can accept their belief that the work they do requires them to do no more than “present … all the evidence that we have about the expression in question in order to help people make up their minds for themselves.” But that’s not how Shibley approached the Wallace case, and it’s not how FIRE addressed the two previous cases I’ve highlighted. In each of these three cases, representatives of FIRE offered partial and incomplete descriptions of presumptively racist and/or sexist speech, with their omissions serving to create the impression that the speech was less obnoxious than it actually was. And in each of these three cases those same representatives offered editorial defenses of that speech on content-based rather than civil libertarian grounds.

Yet, quite significantly, Johnston utterly fails to explain how FIRE's alleged omissions or distortions were material. That is, Johnson fails to explain how, if FIRE had described the racist speech more vividly, it should have changed FIRE's First Amendment analysis or conclusions. No, what Johnston is talking about is ideological compliance — the notion that there ought not be any discussion of racist speech without a full exposition of the speech and a painstaking denunciation, even if the full details are not relevant to the First Amendment analysis.

That's genuflection. It's no more persuasive that Alexandra Wallace's genuflection. If FIRE engaged in ritual denunciation because it felt that it was expected to do so, then they would be, like Wallace, undermining themselves with a form of cowardice — they would be conveying the message that a discussion of free speech stands not on its legal and civic merits but on its ideological compliance.

Fortunately, FIRE doesn't roll that way. Neither should we.

Was That Wrong? Should We Not Have Done That?

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More great moments in American education: Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi had an official, written policy of racial segregation of its student government, including a chart that explained which positions (president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer, and reporter) could be held by whites and blacks in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. The highest office to which blacks could aspire was 8th-grade vice-president. [Edit: some news reports suggest that the school alternated years, so students were eligible for different offices depending on race different years.]

The story, broken by a blogger, has hit the mass media. In response, School Superintendent Russel Taylor has posted an awfully tepid statement.

"Student elections have not yet been held at Nettleton Middle School for the 2010-2011 school term. The processes and procedures for student elections are under review. We are reviewing the origin of these processes, historical applications, compliance issues, as well as current implications
and ramifications. A statement will be released when review of these processes is complete."

Yeah, you do that review, Russel.

Wouldn't you love to be in the room when the people who enacted this policy, or turned it into a chart, or distributed it, explain why they thought it was legal or appropriate?

Public education includes many brilliant, dedicated, and skilled teachers and administrators, but also a certain number of people who are so knuckle-draggingly stupid, or so woefully ignorant, that they are able to convince themselves it is appropriate to publish a chart dictating the acceptable race of student government leaders. The size of that category is subject to dispute. The process of weeding out the morons and freaks who create situations like this is stymied by politically powerful public employee unions that frequently make it nearly impossible to fire freaks and morons, or even rate them.

Edited to add: Hey, they've got racially divided homecoming courts as well.

Edit two: they changed the policy.

After being notified of a grievance regarding upcoming student elections at Nettleton Middle School, research was conducted that evidenced that the current practices and procedures for student elections have existed for over 30 years. It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body. It is felt the intent of these election procedures was to ensure African-American representation in each student office category through an annual rotation basis.

It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed to help ensure minority representation and involvement. Furthermore, the Nettleton School District acknowledges and embraces the fact that we are growing in ethnic diversity and that the classifications of Caucasian and African-American no longer reflect our entire student body.

Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office. Future student elections will be monitored to help ensure that this change in process and procedure does not adversely affect minority representation in student elections.

Thank you

Superintendent

Russell Taylor

To which I respond: seriously? They did this for 30 years, and nobody said anything? It never occurred to anyone that it was patently illegal? Seriously?

Maybe they can get Jimmy Carter to come supervise the next election.

Be The First On Popehat's Lists of Jewish, Gay, Or Asian Donors!

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Now, we've never actually accepted donations at Popehat. But I've been thinking of starting. The whole "work" thing isn't really turning out well for me. And I'm pretty sure Patrick was fired 18 months ago and has been blogging from a dumpster outside a Starbucks. So we're all penurious over here.

Anyway, if we're going to be hitting up our readers for cash, we need to find some way to keep track of the money and who gives it. I've been thinking of keeping track on a spreadsheet, broken down by the ethnicity and/or religious preference of the donors.

Because that's how the big kids do it.

See, apparently Mike McMahon, Democratic Congressman from New York, categorizes donors by ethnicity or religion. Or, to be more precise, he categorizes donors to his opponent by ethnicity or religion. Faced with a reasonably well-funded challenge by Republican hopeful Mike Grimm, he sent the media a list of Grimm's Jewish donors in order to argue that Grimm's campaign is funded by voters "outside the district":

The file, labeled "Grimm Jewish Money Q2," for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home.

"Where is Grimm's money coming from," said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's campaign spokesman. "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees."

It really helps that the opponent's name is "Grimm" because "Grimm Jewish Money" sounds ominous, helping McMahon drum up the anxiety level. Maybe someday he'll be lucky enough to be challenged by rising young politician Cabal Q. Christkiller.

Anyway, if you're going to generate a scare-list of Jews who donated to your political enemy, you'd want to make it as precise as possible, right? I mean, it would be damned embarrassing if you slipped a Southern Baptist on there or something by accident and ended up undermining your whole they-control-my-opponent schtick. So — how does McMahon and his team know which Grimm donors are Jewish?

Jennifer Nelson said that the list was compiled by the campaign's finance director, Debra Solomon and that she did not know exactly how the finance team knew who was Jewish and who was not.

"She herself is Jewish so she knows a lot of people in that community," Nelson said.

Debra Solomon has Jewdar! Well, that sounds like a perfectly sound basis for compiling an ethnically or religiously segregated list of donors in an odd attempt to discredit your opponent. Of course, Nelson also said:

Nelson stressed that the point of compiling the list was not to show that Grimm had a lot of Jewish support, but that he had little support in the district.

"I don't think ethnicity matters. When people look at who is funding his campaign it's not people who have a direct vested interest [in the district.]"

This necessarily implies that (a) the Jews on the donor list are not local Jews, and that (b) therefore Debra Solomon is familiar with "that community" not just locally, but throughout the United States — throughout the community that the McMahon campaign refers to as "Jewtopia." This is exactly how I was led to understand the Jewish community works by watching Mel Gibson videos on YouTube.

Anyway, the whole story has broken now, and it will play poorly for McMahon, and much more poorly — hopefully lose-your-job-and-never-get-one-again poorly — for Nelson and Solomon. If only they had thought to ask a subject-matter expect, like Oliver Stone, they would have realized that floating a OMG-JEWS-CONTROL-MY-OPPONENT story to the media in hopes of getting a helpful story was kind of a long-shot. They might have also realized that when you get caught sending around files called "Jewish Money," you don't lean into the story by providing quotes like "there's lots of Jewish money."

It's said that politics is Hollywood for ugly people. I have no idea if Mike McMahon, Jennifer Nelson, or Debra Solomon are ugly on the outside. But it does seem that they are in that elite group even more menacing than any ethnic or religious tribe you could name: they are people who are too fucking stupid for politics.

Hat tip: Jonathan Turley.

Update: McMahon, appropriately, fires Nelson and blasts her comments. If Nelson was telling the truth that Solomon compiled a list of Grimm's Jewish donors, knowing it was for such racially tinged propaganda purposes, she needs to get the axe too. And even if we take McMahon at his word that he's not the sort of guy who would have approved this, he's still the sort of guy who hired people with regrettable judgment and contemptible morals.

Jeffrey Lord Is Not A Writer

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Jeffrey Lord and his supporters claim that he is a writer for American Spectator.

They're lying. Probably for political advantage — out of bare, naked hatred for every thing that makes America great.

How did I discover this outrage? Several ways. First, note in the link above that American Spectator lists Lord as a "contributor," not as a writer. Also, the page about him says he is an "author," not a writer. Moreover, I couldn't find him on this wikipedia page called "Lists of writers." Furthermore, Merriam-Webster defines "writer" as "one who writes stock options," and I've seen no evidence whatsoever that Lord writes stock options.

Therefore, even though in one manner of speaking he "writes," and even though he uses his own name (which I am recently given to understand is the sine qua non of credibility and literary excellence), he's not a writer, and nobody ought to read him.

There. I've constructed an irrefutable logical edifice.

How did I learn to do so?

Why, from Jeffrey Lord himself.

See, Lord wrote — though not as a writer — that controversial former federal employee Shirley Sherrod is a liar. Why is she a liar? Well, in the course of discussing race in America, Sherrod claimed that a relative of hers, Bobby Hall, was lynched in the South. But Lord knows, that's not right. Ask the Supreme Court itself. Here's how they describe what happened to Bobby Hall:

This case involves a shocking and revolting episode in law enforcement. Petitioner Screws was sheriff of Baker County, Georgia. He enlisted the assistance of petitioner Jones, a policeman, and petitioner Kelley, a special deputy, in arresting Robert Hall, a citizen of the United States and of Georgia. The arrest was made late at night at Hall's home on a warrant charging Hall with theft of a tire. Hall, a young negro about thirty years of age, was handcuffed and taken by car to the courthouse. As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two pounds. They claimed Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language as he alighted from the car. But after Hall, still handcuffed, had been knocked to the ground, they continued to beat him from fifteen to thirty minutes until he was unconscious. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail and thrown upon the floor, dying. An ambulance was called, and Hall was removed to a hospital, where he died within the hour and without regaining consciousness. There was evidence that Screws held a grudge against Hall, and had threatened to "get" him.

Aha! sayeth the Lord. There's nothing in there about lynching. It doesn't even mention a rope. He was beaten to death, you big dummy. Black folks and their exaggerations! QED.

Now, people like Radley Balko — not to mention Lord's own colleagues at the Spectator, might lack the unique mental agility of a Lord. They're insisting on looking at statutes, and actual definitions, to show that "lynching" is a term used to describe mob murders of all sorts, not just ones accomplished with a rope.

But Balko and his ilk forget that in the year of our Lord, there is one supreme authority on the meaning of words, including "lynch."

I refer, of course, to HUMPTY. MOTHERFUCKING. DUMPTY.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that's all.'

Make no mistake that our Lord is a master. So "lynched" means what he wants it to mean.

That's why he embarked on a furious, indignant defense of his definition of "lynched", snapping at his detractors. In the course of that defense, he informed us that (1) even if there was no rope, it couldn't be a lynching, because only three people did it, and that's not a "mob", and (2) the Supreme Court said that the murder was "under the color of law," meaning that they had legal authority to do it, so it couldn't be a lynching.

Now petty detractors might argue that anti-lynching bills of the time defined "mob" as three or more people. But Lord thinks that's not what it means, and that's the only relevant point.

Petty detractors might point out that "under color of law" means, and has always meant, under pretense of official right, not under actual official right. Hence, when the Supreme Court took up the case of the 1964 murder of civil rights activists Michael Henry Schwerner, James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman by Mississippi law enforcement, and agreed that they had acted "under color of law," the Court was not suggesting that the murders were lawful. Of course, that definition of "color of law" is an obscure issue, known only to lawyers and marginally literate people capable of reading the newspaper without reducing it to an illegible pulp with their OMG-A-NEGRO-IS-PRESIDENT spittle. Moreover, if Jeff Lord is a master of the language, what stops him from being a master of what the law is as well?

Other detractors might assert that all of this misses the point — that only a lunatic would quibble over the use of the term "lynched" to describe a brutal racist murder in the first place, and that such quibbling demonstrates a gravely disordered approach to the subject. Lord knows, that ain't right. History, and the people in it, are only there to advance our current political agenda. Even a non-writer like Jeffrey Lord can tell you that.

The Terrorists Have Won

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America: where the batshit-crazy get agitated when the moronic collides with the banal.

Today's episode: certain segments of the blogosphere go completely off the rails because a hot (if somewhat confused) woman won the obnoxious, contrived, Trump-infested spectacle that is the Miss USA contest. Well, more accurately, they're wetting themselves because the hot woman in question is an Arab-American Muslim. Doug Mataconis reviews some of the resulting outrage, as does Jonathan Turley.

Case in point: the reliably crazy Debbie Schlussel wets herself, explaining that her unnamed "intelligence sources" (as a doctor with a flashlight to help with that one) tell her that the winner is, of course, a Hezbollah supporter, and that (of course) Obama the great and terrible will "exploit this propaganda for Islam." Debbie's commenters, in typical form, see the bigger picture:

Please get a clue. The Fort Hood shooter is the typical Muslim in the U.S. forces. The others Muslims, like him, are fighting to help Islam, not America, and they know they can do this by infiltrating the American military, just like this Muslim ho and terrorist supporter feels like she can infiltrate a beauty contest through affirmative action: “Look, fellow Muslim barbarians, we are winning the jihad! I’m the new Miss U.S.A.” It is a great propaganda coup for irrational, violent, Mohammed pedophile-worshiping Muslims around the world.

The people in a tizzy over this think that it shows that the terrorists have won, in that Arab American Muslim Miss USA = terrorist propaganda victory.

I fear that I agree with them that the incident shows that the terrorists have won. I just think so for a different reason. I fear that their reaction shows that the terrorists have won by transforming a significant — or, at least, significantly noisy — segment of American society. The terrorists have succeeded, at least to some extent, in marginalizing the culturally superior elements of American society — bravery, fairness, open-mindedness, tolerance, and devotion to liberty and equality. They have also succeeded, in turn, in empowering and mainstreaming all that is willfully ignorant, bigoted, ineffectually fearful, and totalitarian in the dark recesses of the American psyche.

An America that is defined by the Debbie Schlussels of the world — and by her inane mob of conspiracy-minded comments — is doomed to fail, and deserves to.

Update: Instalanche! Many thanks to Radley Balko for the link and the kind words.

Is There Something Worse Than A Racist Beastophile? Yup — A Forward Spammer. Or A Moron.

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Carl Paladino, a Republican candidate for Governor of New York who associates himself with the Tea Party movement, apparently likes to forward emails with racial jokes and horse porn to what has been described as "a long list of political and business associates." Some selections:

A December 2008 email showing a video of African tribesmen performing a traditional dance. The video is entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal."

• A September 2009 email entitled, "Easy Steady Big Fella….XXXX," with a photograph that graphically depicts a horse having sex with a woman.

• A January 2010 email, containing a hardcore pornographic video entitled "Miss France 2008 F[***]ing."

• A July 2009 email showing a photograph of an airplane landing directly behind a group of black men. The caption reads: "Holy Sh*t. run ni**ers, run!"

I believe current convention requires us to accuse the liberal media of planting the emails. But Paladino didn't get that memo. Faced with this situation, Paladino has adopted exactly the same defense that your asshole uncle Wayne uses when you ask him to stop forwarding shit: "I don't read it or think about it, I just forward it, what's the big deal?" His press flack's statement:

Carl Paladino has forwarded close friends hundreds of email messages he received. Many of these emails he received were off color, some were politically incorrect, few represented his own opinion, and almost none of them were worth remembering.

We're not surprised the political establishment feels threatened by Carl's drive the take Albany back for taxpayers. Our campaign won't be wading through the details of what is just another liberal Democrat blog smear. It figures that members of the Party who brought us record taxes, record spending and record debt would want to change the topic from reform to having sex with horses and S&M parlors.

I think we'll see a serious and credible discussion of horse-fucking long before we see a serious and credible discussion of reform — from any party.

Anyway, if true, maybe this defense simply makes Paladino a different kind of asshole — not a racist asshole, but the asshole who compulsively forwards you stupid shit. I'm sure people have given up on asking Paladino not to send them horse porn, sending him links to snopes.com, or complaining that some of his emails are kind of offensive. Maybe he just wants attention. We should be happy he's not forwarding something really offensive, like those horrible inspirational stories that make you want to go out and beat brave sick kids with a shovel until they stop being so goddamned optimistic.

Or maybe he's not just a serial forwarder. I've argued before that social networking technology — including email — has a tendency to lead certain types of people to out themselves. Believe it or not, I'm not just talking about racist assholes. I think there's an excellent argument to be made that much of this racial "humor" is racist. But I could write until my knuckles bleed and I'll never change minds on that one — either you're prone to accept Paladino's explanation "I'm not sensitive to ethnic humor," or you're not. No, the types of people I'm thinking about are not racists, or not merely racists — they're morons.

Giving email and social networking tools to stupid people — particularly stupid politicians — is like giving a loaded gun to a dull toddler. Paladino's been in politics for a while. If he had a room-temperature IQ, or better judgment and self-discipline than God gave Lindsay Lohan, he'd grasp that you can't send porn and racial humor to a "long list of business and political associates" without it becoming public, probably at an inconvenient moment. You might as well cc the New York Post. We didn't have to grapple with the morality of infidelity in order to reach the conclusion that Gary Hart proved himself too stupid to lead when he dared reporters to catch him cheating while he was, in fact, cheating. Similarly, we don't have to agree whether or not Paladino's penchant for racial jokes makes him a racist in order to conclude that he's a spectacular fool to be sending out these sorts of emails whilst attempting to run for office. We're not talking about someone who is merely a little dim about how computers work. We're talking about someone who, in a game where nobody is your friend, chose to send friend and associates racial jokes and porn, assuming nobody would mind or say anything about it.

Paladino says he's the only Republican in the race who is 100% behind conservative values. Let's leave aside, for a moment, how his penchant for forwarded porn meshes with that. Let's just leave it at this: whatever Michael Moore may tell you, being a dumbshit is not a conservative value.

Australia: Foreign Bloggers Beware

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I must admit that I know almost nothing about Australia's Aboriginal peoples. I've had unkind words about a chauvanistic and scientifically questionable attitude towards didgeridoos, but beyond that, I got nada.

But I do know a very small amount about the Australian government's increasingly appalling attitude towards freedom of expression. So it comes as no surprise to me that Australia is threatening foreign bloggers with suit for the crime of being assholes when writing about Aborigines.

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