Thursday, April 29, 2010

Random Class Thought II

If female lawyers choose to work in the public sector rather than the private sector and if the reason they choose to do so is because they feel less of a need to earn money and therefore can pick jobs they like better, is that sexism? Sexism against men? And who should be changing it and how? If women care less about money (perhaps because society does not value them based on their earning power, perhaps because they don't have to support a family)- is it wrong to pay them less?

Obviously, that's not the only possible reason. There could be real sexism. It could also be a question of the insanely long hours. And again- is it sexist if women prefer not to work insane hours? Is it only sexist if they do so because they feel obliged to raise a family?

In other words, I do not think I get a word of what this professor is spouting.

Edit: Do you ever sit in class and listen to people asking questions and think to yourself: "How on earth could you think that's a real question? For your sake, my friend, I hope that is a thought that popped into your head and your hand went up before you finished the thought because if you actually thought about that thought for more than five seconds, I simply don't understand what it must be like in your head." Not questions of failing to understand the professor, but questions of ah-ha! I have thought of something clever and you're just like oh honey. oh no. For example: Can something be disparate treatment and disparate impact at the same time for different groups? Yes, honey. It can. Good question.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's so bad about genocide?*

*And then the lawyer in me feels the need to quickly disclaim that the above question is obviously facetious, intended to pique interest rather than to suggest that genocide is anything other than heinous. That said...

Genocide is really the prototypical evil thing, both in terms of convenient rhetoric for a lot of debates and for international law purposes. And I agree that it's pretty darn evil. But I'm not entirely sure what about it is more evil than the murder of an equivalent number of people based on some other grounds. I should note that I also have some instinct that this is the case, although perhaps not so strong an instinct as is common. 

Okay, so is it a question of mens rea- the mental state of the genocider? It's less moral to kill somebody based on ethnicity because it compounds the offenses of murder and of racism, so assuming that racism has a non-zero evil quotient, the same murder will be x + y evil instead of just x evil (presumably the justification behind hate crime legislation as well). Although if we are accepting this as mathematical in any sense, at some point the genocide of a relatively small nation would be less evil than the non-racially-motivated murder of a whole lot of people. Which I'm not sure is the case, but it would be interesting to run experiments to see how people feel about that. However, I don't think it's just the compounding effect of racism. I don't really know the full legal definition of genocide (and I'm pretty sure that there's not a simple or uncontroversial one) but racially-motivated mass murder may not qualify unless there is some real goal of annihilation. (Interestingly, I'm not sure mass murder based on other discriminatory patterns- murder of gays or the handicapped or lefties- would count as genocide, even if the goal was annihilation).

This implies that the real concern is something closer to the value that we place in diversity. Perhaps a better analogy than hate crimes would be endangered species. We think that there is value to the continued existence of variety and diminishment of said variety is a real harm. This is all very well and good, but as Rachel (my older sister, for the, like, two readers who are not family members) has pointed out, the value is never to maximize the number of animal species. In fact, those who are most concerned with conservation of endangered species also tend to be those who are really offended by the idea of frankenfruits and so forth or any sort of human-created diversity. And back to the human example, I don't know of that many people who encourage more people to go split off and create new ethnicities or cultures or what have you. Although the general lamenting of globalization and so forth is prevalent, I'm not sure anybody thinks it's as evil as genocide. Is the difference intent? Or is genocide precisely as evil as mass murder + globalization? 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random Class Thought

The press conference as the modern embodiment of eglah arufa, in terms of form, content, and goals, specifically the public self-humiliation by public figures as a means of illustration the seriousness attributed to murder and specifically unsolved (and thus unpunished) murders and as a means of drawing attention to the murder to ease the solving. Discuss.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It seems, and this is a fact that flatters and disturbs me, that this blog is actually still being read, not merely by safely anonymous strangers but by people within a degree or two of separation from me, myself, personally. For that matter, who can say but that my family members might not be checking in from time to time? One would have thought the months+ delays between posts would have thrown them off my track, but this does not seem to be the case.

Well, this is in many ways worrisome and I will tell you why. Bloggery- particularly on a most defunct blog- has a comforting sensation of anonymity. At the same time, it allows a sense of officialdom that thoughts and sentiments lack when confined to your own computer or your own mind. The best blog, I am convinced, or at least the best blog in the narrow category of blog-as-diary, which this blog, largely although not exclusively, but definitely increasingly, is, would be one that could be read by anyone but isn't. (Yes, that was a sentence. Ish.) A blog that is read by strangers is nearly as good because everyone knows that strangers aren't really people.

What such anonymity allows is the expression of thoughts/sentiments without complete endorsement. I read a lovely theory of privacy that included the idea that access to people's thoughts is wrong because what is important is the thoughts that people choose to endorse by granting them verbal (or other) expression. Anonymous blogging is not the same as saying something because it does not imply the same level of endorsement.

For me, this is particularly critical when it comes to my angst. I angst rather more than I strictly speaking approve of, and therefore I tend not to endorse such angst by sharing it with others. I do, somewhat hypocritically, write poems with the angst, but I regard that as fair play because: 1) I rarely do anything further with the poems and 2)I try to make sure that they are decent poems and worth existing (it's a low bar, but I think it would keep out most of the angsty poetry out their). And also I may blog the angst- more recently since I became more convinced that nobody who knew me would read it.

The upshot of all this is that my blogging needs to become

1) more anonymous: which would mean killing this blog, so there's that.
2) less honest: which would probably entail less existing (although there's not a lot of room for that with this particular blog).
3) less blog-as-diary and more blog-as-random-thoughts, which is all very well and good but I had been hoping that the blog would, to a small degree, chronicle the way I was at this age so that I can read it in a couple years when I have completely forgotten. (I already can barely envision my high school self. It's weird).