Another Misused Phrase

Readers of this blog, both of you, know how I feel about the misuse of the phrases witch hunt and lynch mob, and more generally about all the variations of the word lynch. I’d like to discuss another phrase without the same level of history but with vital importance to understanding the self-serving faux-martyrdom of those in our society who are actually the most powerful ad privileged. It’s used in this NY Times piece on Mueller’s investigative tactics:

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Hobby Lobby Funds ISIS, But Not Birth Control

You may remember the Hobby Lobby corporation from their assault on women’s rights. Rather, I should say “its” assault on women’s rights because what was at issue in that lawsuit was whether or not a corporation can be said to have a religion.

People, of course, can have religious beliefs. Corporations, however, are set up for the sole purpose of not being the people who own them. This becomes important when a company goes bankrupt: creditors can go after the assets of the corporation, but not the assets of the persons who own or run the corporation. This is true because under the law the corporation is not the people that make it up. It is its own entity.

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Anxiety, Depression and Medically Assisted Suicide

In the past week, a Canadian law regulating the exercise of the right to medical assistance in dying (that right being established by a Supreme Court of Canada decision known as Carter) has come into effect. Although I host far from the most regular blog on FtB, and although that inevitably results in fewer comments here than elsewhere, I’d like to try to host a discussion on an important topic of ethics and law: whether treatment-resistant anxiety disorders and/or treatment resistant depression should have access to medically assisted suicide.

In Canada, the Carter decision has established that the privacy/autonomy right so crucial to the Supreme Court’s decisions establishing a right to abortion access in the Morgentaler cases also encompasses the right of “grievously and irremediably ill persons” to gain access to advice and medications necessary for competent assisted suicide as well as to further medical aid in dying (sometimes called MAID though something about this acronym sounds unpleasantly inappropriate to me). Grievous and irremediable illness is not a phrase that automatically excludes mental illness, and indeed one person has already gained access to medical aid in dying on the basis of severe and treatment-resistant mental illness.

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Anti-Trans Texas: What They Didn’t Learn From North Carolina

Yet more anti-trans bathroom bills are now considered reasonable bets to become law, this time in Texas. Gov Greg Abbott has made a public declaration of support for (further) weaponizing bathrooms through state legislation. Two bills that had this potential have been kicking around Austin’s statehouse for the last few weeks, but the public support has not gone unnoticed.

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Section 40 and the Free Press

Clearly bad actors are found in all fields of business or employment. I am even forced to concede that, on rare occasions, someone involved in my own prestigious field of blogging might misbehave. This fact is one of the underpinning justifications for the creation of boards of regulation for certain businesses and professions. In many cases, however, the regulators either don’t focus on the proper priorities or they are even created for entirely spurious reasons.

In the UK we’re seeing regulation of the field of journalism that displays gob-smacking amounts of each of these flaws. The UK has already been roundly criticized for inviting “libel tourism”,*1 but new legislation amending the Crime & Courts Act would create a strong presumption that media outlets will pay the court costs of both parties in any libel action. Because of the language that it amends, it’s fairly clear that this is supposed to undercut the presumption that when someone wrongly accuses you of libel and then loses in court, it’s unfair for the courts to order the innocent media outlet, author, or artist to pay the costs of the party that made the wrong accusation.

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Fascist Governance: Multi-state Edition

ALEC is a long-condemned organization whose mission is to share regressive and theocratic legislative ideas between states. They have long advocated heightened criminal penalties for behaviors with relatively low social cost, or, in cases of public political expression, with actual social value.

I don’t know to what extent ALEC has been working on issues of shutting down protest and public expression, but it seems to me that the “leadership” of Trump is making ALEC less and less necessary. There is a zeitgeist, and that geist is haunting the Ebenezers in our state governments. There’s no turkey dinner for the cripples at the end of this story, however. The state legislators want to control us, every one.

While there are other topics I could discuss in terms of state legislative trends, I want to particularly call out this growing need to control speech through punitive legislation, through denial of remedy, and, yes, through simply killing protestors.

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