aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The deal on Rand Knight
I just got a note from Rand Knight. Tom Baxter and Jim Galloway got one on Thursday:
Just got a note from Rand Knight, a 35-year-old scientist with the National Ecological Observatory Network, who announced his Democratic candidacy for the U.S. Senate race with his e-mail.
Here’s his web site, though some finishing touches are still needed.
The comments on their post suggest Rand’s got a tough slog ahead of him.
The Julie Group
At the end of most of the couple dozen posts I did on the Julie Amero case I appended this plea:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
You can imagine my pleasure, then, when I read this:
I have been fortunate enough to participate in a private discussion list around the Amero case. One goal of the group on this list has been to expand what we’ve learned into something that reaches beyond Julie and toward others. TheJulieGroup blog is the beginning of that endeavor — a collaborative effort to identify unjust prosecutions of innocent citizens who are the victims of malware.
I hope you’ll visit, subscribe, and tell your friends about it. I’ll be contributing to it when I have a contribution to make, so if you know of anyone who finds themselves at risk of losing their job, family or liberty because they were victims of malware, let me know.
Free Paris Hilton!
What does it say of us that in Paris Hilton’s release and subsequent reincarceration we have one of those rare occasions where popular American sentiment lines up with Al Sharpton:
“She’s a pawn in a turf fight right now,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles. “It backfired against her because she’s a celebrity. She got a harsher sentence because she was a celebrity. And then when her lawyer found a way out of jail, there was too much public attention for it to sit well with the court.”
The struggle between the judge and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, incited indignation far beyond the attention normally paid to a minor criminal matter.
Judicial and police officials here said they were inundated with calls from outraged residents and curious news media outlets from around the country and beyond. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, decried Ms. Hilton’s release as an example of “double standards,” saying consideration was given to a pampered rich girl that would never have been accorded an average inmate.
In fact, her sentence was harsher than average because of her fame and at the time of her “early” release she had already served the average. Mary Fulginiti Friday morning on GMA:
Due to the overcrowding in the LA County jail system here in Los Angeles, defendants, especially nonviolent defendants, are serving approximately 10% of their time. So she was sentenced to 45 days. She served approximately what, between, I guess, anywhere between three and five days, arguably. And that would be consistent with what’s happening here in Los Angeles. [...]
So Paris Hilton, although you may not like her, although - you may - she may be easy to want to make an example out of, at the end of the day, she’s a nonviolent offender who hasn’t, who doesn’t have a significant criminal history, with a potential medical issue. And if there’s anyone that probably deserves under the overcrowding aspect in the system here to be released early, it will be someone similar to her.
I am no fan of Retributive Justice (the thinking man’s vengeance); I do not understand why we target our resentment towards her and not the system that created her. I can imagine that there could be some reason other than entitlement and privilege that precipitated her run in with the law. Finally, I do have empathy for what it must be like for her to be in LA County jail.
I’ve been making my way through the archive of the WNYC Radio Lab series and just recently finished the episode on morality. Wholly fascinating, in the section looking at the development of morality in children it notes the absence of empathy in young kids, and that the development of empathy is fundamental to the development of morality. I would say that today our culture has an absence of empathy and is, as a consequence, less moral.
But I don’t blame us for it. I blame our systems, most particularly in this instance the market-driven media system. A different media structure might be reporting the real story here - the one mentioned in that GMA piece but by happenstance rather than design - that the jails are full. We are locking up more people than any nation in the world (Russia is #3, Cuba #7) and do you feel safer for it?
A consequence is the sad fact that there’s no more room in our jails. What’s happening in California today will be happening in Georgia tomorrow and in your state the day after:
In the last five years, the Sheriff’s Department has released more than 200,000 inmates early, including some who ended up committing murders and other serious crimes when they otherwise would have been behind bars.
The releases were possible because of a nearly 20-year-old federal court order allowing the Los Angeles County sheriff to alleviate overcrowding by letting county offenders go home early.
We have to abandon our Retributive Justice, find some empathy, and move towards a moral system of Restorative Justice. I’d rather make that appeal on empathetic, humanitarian grounds, but ultimately it looks like it may come down to an economic reality: we’re not willing to pay the kind of money it costs to keep locking up all those people.
And if, as a consequence, all the Paris Hilton’s of the world are set free, I won’t feel the need to go home and hide behind locked doors.
The Ark easily had room for the dinosaurs (as you can see in other articles in this issue). First, the Ark was the size of a huge cargo ship (at least 450 ft [137 m] long). Second, there weren’t many different kinds of dinosaurs (only about 50 “kinds"). Third, God most likely brought the smaller juvenile dinosaurs, not the aging adults, because they would be better suited for the voyage and the responsibilities of reproducing rapidly after the Flood.
That from the new Creationist Museum. Mike Riddle, who authored that this past February, has a masters in education. Ugh!
Via Echidne of the Snakes, who also reports that the actor playing Adam in a Creation Museum video recently had a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat where users would post explicit photos and stories. More on that from Raw Story (where I got the photo).
REALATED - Ars Technica takes a field trip to the new Creationism Museum:
There was also an explanation as to why, with only one progenitor family, it wasn’t considered incest for Adam and Eve’s children to marry each other. Apparently there was less sin back then, and therefore fewer mutations in their DNA. Evidently sin, not two copies of the same recessive trait, gives rise to congenital birth defects.