aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Alabama Day 2 (&3)
One of the most dangerous flaws in Alabama’s capital punishment system is the lack of a statewide public defender system. Instead, the state offers a hodgepodge, bare-bones way of providing lawyers to defend poor suspects. These court-appointed lawyers often have little experience in capital cases, and limits on pay discourage highly qualified lawyers from taking cases. Worse, there are no guarantees after the first round of appeals that an inmate even will have legal help.
I’m in Georgia, not Alabama. We have six prisons in our little town. And not one prisoner advocacy organization.
UPDATE: Reading at night, I got confused with my days. Above is actually Day 3. Here is Day 2, Many murders, few executions:
The death penalty isn’t applied fairly in Alabama. If it were, the horror of a particular crime and the guilt of a particular defendant would determine whether a case ended with a sentence of death. Instead, the outcomes often hinge on the status of the accused, the quality of the defense, the race of the victim, even the location of the crime.
Those who revere life in all its precious forms, as this editorial board does, should be troubled by the deep defects in Alabama’s system of dealing with cases that can end in death.
Who gets the death penalty - and who doesn’t - is a monumental issue across the country. It’s especially important in Alabama, a state that sentences more people to death and has more death penalty crimes than most other states.
Dover v Kansas
In Dover they’ve replaced the school board. In Kansas the State Board of Education approved a proposal to teach intelligent design. The Dover parents and the Dover teachers were and are heroic. Kansans chose faith over science:
The Kansas School Board and its defenders can couch this any way they like. They can’t disguise what they’ve done. They’re deliberately choosing to inject religious faith into science classes.
If America loses its pre-eminence—something that seems more and more likely given the way things are going—historians will mark her decline by citing events like this one.
Libby v Lewinsky
Six in 10 Americans say they do not think the news about Libby’s indictment has gotten too much coverage:
The recent indictment of Vice President Cheney’s top aide has struck a nerve with the American public. Four in five, 79 percent, said the indictment of former Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on perjury and other charges is important to the nation, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Pew noted that in September 1998, 65 percent said President Clinton’s lies under oath were important. Clinton was impeached over his handling of an affair with Monica Lewinsky, but was acquitted by the Senate on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Via Andrew Sullivan, Memo to the GOP: stop digging.
I live in a town where the only way to get the election results is to go to headquarters. No websites update the vote tally. No local TV, or even local access, covers it. Macon broadcasters will have “news at 11.” Takes me back to a different time and place.
So I’ll quote instead our candidate for mayor here, who, when challenged for his lack of electoral experience, deftly appealed to his Bible Belt audience:
“As I said last week, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic,” Bentley said.
UPDATE: He won.
Arguing for same-sex marriage at Volokh
In the end it comes down to this: Given that gay families exist, and are not going to be eliminated or converted by any means acceptable to the American people, what is to be done with them? Is it better for society that they be shunted aside, marginalized, ostracized, made to feel alien to traditional values and institutions? Or is it better that they be included in the fabric of American life, including the most important social institution we have for encouraging, recognizing, and reinforcing loving families? I can see why a sexual liberationist, or a radical of any stripe, might say, “Keep them out.” I have never been able to understand how a conservative could say that.
In the end I doubt this issue will be decided on the basis of debaterish points and arguments. It will be decided on the basis of the lessons we tend to draw from the real-world experiences we have and the people we know. What I have tried to do is outline a different way of thinking about gay marriage that might allow the thoughtful traditionalist conservative to reconcile his innate and healthy suspicion of change with his insight that marriage really is good for people and their families.
In a world where gay families had nothing to do with the problems marriage now faces, it’s pretty odd to “defend” marriage by keeping them out. With these wholly unrelated challenges to marriage out there, William Eskridge recently said that defending marriage by opposing gay marriage is like building a Maginot Line. You get all excited about your fine fortress, you preen and prance around about your impending victory, you pop open some champagne, and then . . . the enemy sneaks through the Ardennes and overruns you.
Mind your metadata
Recently a friend was embarrassed to find revisions exposed in a press release. The Times warns:
Technically, metadata is sort of the DNA of documents created with modern word-processing software. By default, it is automatically saved into the deep structure of a file, hidden from view, with information that can hint at authorship, times and dates of revisions (along with names of editors) and other tidbits that, while perhaps useful to those creating the document, might be better left unseen by the wider world.
(If you use Microsoft Word, open a document, go to the File menu and choose Properties. You should see some metadata. Third-party programs are available that will crack open even more.)
I suggested my friend use PDF. Even there additional steps may be required:
Saving a copy of a document in “rich text format” (RTF), or as a simple text file first (options in the Save menu), and then converting it into the common “portable document format” (PDF) before circulating it is a good tack, Mr. Kennedy said. Still, some debate remains as to whether traces of metadata from word-processing programs like Microsoft Word are carried through to the PDF file.
Hm. What traces? I’d like to know more.