aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, December 18, 2006
On Genarlow’s cruel & unusual punishment
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The sentence sounds mandated by state statute, and I don’t think there’s any Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause problem here...But while the conviction is constitutionally permissible, it hardly seems like a just result.
How can it be that, in the judges own words, a “promising young man with good grades and no criminal history [is sentenced] to ten years in prison without parole and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender because he engaged in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old victim only two years his junior” and THAT IS NOT CONSIDERED CRUEL AND UNUSUAL???
Thankfully, someone at Sentencing Law and Policy disagrees:
I am not sure I have a fully evolved and sound-tight approach to this provision. But I think a common-person test ought to be of some use. And I have to think common persons would surely view imprisoning a Georgia teenager for 10 years for consensual oral sex as far more “cruel and unusual” than imperfectly administering a lethal injection to a condemned murderer in California.
Again, the key facts are that Georgia Legislature has now said that the defendant’s type of behavior should be treated as a misdemeanor, and many studies suggest that the defendant’s sexual behavior is quite common among teenagers. Yet prosecutions for consensual oral sex between teenagers is extremely rare, and I doubt anyone in recent decades has every received more than a year in prison for such an offense, let alone ten years. Why don’t these facts alone make out at least a plausible case of the infliction of a "cruel and unusual punishment"
So we’re left with a case for executive clemency. Be sure to read the comments:
It seems as if there was a day when the judiciary was more robust and served as more of a real check on the excesses of the political process in the criminal area.... I understand frustration with judicial activism. But there is just so much evidence of disfunction in the legislative branch in dealing with criminal justice—particularly sentencing—issues. And one cannot realistically expect the Executive Branch to function as an adequate check… I don’t think the reason political reform is not coming is because the majority of reasonable people (or legislators) think things are fine with sentencing the way they are. The reality is we pretty indisputably have real problems with over-incarceration in this country, but it is an terribly hard issue for politicians to deal with.
I had lunch in Center City Philadelphia the other day and asked friends, “what’s up with wireless?” I thought Philly was to be the wireless city and there was nary a signal to be found. Turns out, I was there a month too soon:
The grand experiment is about to begin.
Philadelphia’s push to become the country’s first major city with free, or at least cheap, wireless Internet connections, takes a big step forward this month as EarthLink Inc. completes a 15-square-mile test area. “So far, it seems to be going very, very well,” said Terry Phillis, the city’s acting technology chief. [...]
EarthLink workers have hung about 750 signal boxes in the test area. The entire project will blanket all of Philadelphia’s 135 square miles and require up to 5,000 signal boxes. It is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2007.
Customers can expect download and upload speeds of about 1 megabyte per second. That’s a fraction of the wired speeds offered by Comcast and Verizon, but it’s also a fraction of the cost.
Service will be free in some areas, including LOVE Park and the Independence Visitors Center. Low-income clients can sign up for $9.95 a month, compared to $21.95 for other customers.
Back home, our town is one of those awarded funding by the Georgia Wireless Communities program. I’m guessing we’ll be looking to Philadelphia as a model.
Genarlow Wilson appeal rejected
I am sorry to read that the Georgia Supreme Court has denied the appeal of Genarlow Wilson:
In the opinion Justice Hunstein wrote for the Supreme Court: “Ã¢â‚¬Â¦.while I am very sympathetic to Wilson’s argument regarding the injustice of sentencing this promising young man with good grades and no criminal history to ten years in prison without parole and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender because he engaged in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old victim only two years his junior, this Court is bound by the Legislature’s determination that young persons in Wilson’s situation are not entitled to the misdemeanor treatment now accorded to identical behavior under OCGA 16-6-4” Chief Justice Sears dissented from the opinion.
His attorney says she won’t quit and asks that we please sign the petition. Here’s today’s opinion. Here’s AP. Here an AJC profile of Justice Hunstein who wrote the opinion. All via Howard Bashman at How Appealing.
Shut Up & Sing
I loved the film:
On the surface, “Shut Up & Sing” is a modest film with no obvious axes to grind. As it follows the Dixie Chicks around for three years, it takes Ms. Kopple’s usual route and lets events speak for themselves. No talking heads appear to debate the politics of the Bush administration. Neither the group nor its manager, Simon Renshaw, sat for a formal interview.
Shifting back and forth between 2003 and the more recent past, as the trio prepares its newest album, “Taking the Long Way,” with the producer Rick Rubin, the movie offers a revealing case study of the relationship between politics, celebrity and the media in today’s polarized social climate. The hatred hurled at the Dixie Chicks seems outsized measured against an offhand remark at an overseas concert. As the Dixie Chicks would put it in their song “Not Ready to Make Nice”:
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over. [...]
The film’s generous helpings of the Dixie Chicks’ music culminate with thrilling performances of “The Long Way Around” and “Not Ready to Make Nice” from the recent album. Performing these anthems expressing passionate defiance and solidarity, the group has never sounded more vital and engaged.
Here is the Dixie Chicks interview by Charlie Rose (aired Nov 17, begins @36:35):
Here is the Not Ready to Make Nice music video:
More on the networks’ YouTube killer
Few of my NY friends share my views on copyright (I take my lead from Larry Lessig, who celebrated Creative Commons’ 4 year birthday this past weekend); they see themselves as content owners. I see them as snookered by the real content owners who also regulate everything about that content: giant media companies!
The model I advocate would not net them any less cash, it would mereely alter the dynamics of how that cash is earned. I think they’d wind up with even more money, though those who traffic in trash would make less. And we’d loosen the grip of those giant corporations. More from the Times’ on their attempt to come up with a YouTube killer:
“Content owners needed more bites of the apple,” one executive involved said.
When YouTube was acquired by Google, some media executives openly questioned the legality of YouTube while entering negotiations to license their content to the site. When the idea of the big media consortium was initially conceived, there was some discussion of those companies removing all their content entirely from YouTube. But that drastic action is no longer under consideration, both because it might turn YouTube fans against the networks, and perhaps because it would have raised antitrust issues.
Yes! Fans rule! And Google’s got their number, networks better learn it:
Among its efforts to develop business models, YouTube is incorporating advertising spots into videos only after the clip rather than before, and Google believes its technology for matching relevant ads to Internet searches and other Web content can be applied to video.
I imagine the network types planning a player all tarted up with preroll ads. May they rest in peace.
A network site to take on YouTube
[A] handful of giant media companies, like NBC Universal, the News Corporation, Viacom and possibly CBS, are close to announcing a new Web site that will feature some of their best-known television programming and other clips in an attempt to build a business for distributing video on the Internet to rival YouTube. The new business could be announced as soon as this week.
Fred was spot on when he commented on the prospects for success last week:
First, you can’t build anything interesting by committee. Second, this is not TV, this is the web. This is about rejecting everything about TV. Third, I watched and rooted for NBC to get their NBBC initiative right and they just messed it up. It’s not about content. It’s about context, convenience, and community. It’s about letting the audience dictate the experience, not having it dictated to them.
The chances that any one of the TV networks could get it right is slim. The chance that they could get it right in a partnership is nil.
More from the Times:
Executives from the companies have been in intense negotiations over the ownership and management structure of the new entity - which is as yet unnamed - and the talks could continue until the end of the year or fall apart entirely.
“They really want to do it,” one executive briefed on the talks said of the partners involved. However, this executive predicted, doubting the ability of the competitors to play well together: “Ten minutes after they do it they’ll want to kill themselves.”
He’s right. This just ain’t gonna happen!