Let’s remove offensive statues from Central Park

Inspired by a recent video of students pulling down, kicking and spitting on a statue of a Confederate soldier, we took a tour of inspection to similarly purge Central Park.  The first offender we came across was Alice in Wonderland:

In case you were trigger-warned off reading the book, Alice was an unsupervised child who imbibed hallucinogenic substances (note the conspicuous mushroom motif) .  She’s flanked by the March Hare and the Mad Hatter, insensitive portrayals of the mentally ill. Worst of all, her creator Lewis Carroll should be Level 3 under SORA, if not in civil commitment, for his nude photographs of minors.  Hey, hey, ho, ho, Alice in Wonderland has to go!

Next is Hans Christian Andersen, another child-welfare-endangering figure. You may think “The Ugly Duckling” is a wholesome inspirational tale for late bloomers, but what about “The Tinder Box,” which is about the sexually motivated abduction of a princess by a soldier who, when her parents object, has them torn to pieces by dogs? Ho, ho, hey hey, Hans Christian Andersen must be taken away!

Then there’s Balto, the lead dog of a sled team that rushed serum from Anchorage to Nome to stop a diphtheria epidemic. (Spoilsports suggest this was a publicity stunt: apparently a pilot offered to fly the serum in, but was told to mind his own business).  The question, to which the answer is obviously “no,” is whether humans may enslave animals to pull sleds. One, two, three, four: Balto shouldn’t be in Central Park any more!

We’ll get to “Cleopatra’s Needle” another time. Meanwhile, here are some Central Park sculptures that previous generations removed. Explanations courtesy of A. Squawk.

Simon Bolivar 1884 (replaced by a statue looking less like Don Quixote).

“Auld Lang Syne” 1866.  The  19th Century wasn’t ready for this.

Medicos objected to having their symbol associated with this 1865 statue called “Commerce.”

Boy and Swan 1863. Removed by “Mothers for Megan’s Law.”

Chicken statue

Addendum contributed by alert reader Josephine (see below).  This North Carolina chicken statue was mysteriously stolen. The news report reads: “It’s three feet tall and made of concrete, and while the base was recovered not long after the theft, the bird itself is still missing. Perhaps more mysterious is why the chicken statue existed at all.”

Posted in Satire and parody | 4 Comments

When is parody a crime? When nobody gets it.

One of the most volatile controversies of our time is whether the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes, an ascetic community living around 100 B.C.  Given the public’s strong feelings on the question, it was only a matter of time before somebody made a federal case of it.

The defendant in Golb v. NY State Attorney General (2d Cir. 2017) is not, as you probably assume, Professor Golb of the University of Chicago, whose theory that these fragments found in desert caves were written by non-Essenes threatens to set the Dead Sea Scrolls establishment on its head. Rather, the target of the Manhattan DA’s 51-count indictment was the professor’s loyal son.

Miffed at the silent treatment the academic coterie was giving his father, Golb fils sent out a bunch of emails purporting to be from the leading machers of the Essene Theory. Adopting the high tone of academic debate, young Golb had them referring to his father as “Chicago filth.” And, in a brilliant stroke of reverse psychology, he attached a link to an article (also written pseudonymously) called http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/plagiarism-and-dead-sea-scrolls-did-nyu-professor-snitch-chicago-historians-work, and implored the recipients to keep it under wraps. “Every effort must be made to prevent this article from coming to [students’] attention,” the emails warned. Another message to NYU’s student newspaper exhorted, “I must ask you not to publish a word about this.”

Naturally the emails went viral and Professor Golb was catapulted into the headlines.

Golb Jr. argued that this was satire and parody, a defense we can certainly identify with. But the Court of Appeals solemnly found intent to commit “real harm,” citing the authority of that great jurist Iago, “He who steals my purse steals trash. . . . But he who filches from me my good name. . .  makes me poor indeed.” Apparently forgetting that Iago was the villain in that play, and that he was saying this to fool Othello into doing real harm to Desdemona and Cassio. So it’s meant to be like, you know, ironic? Not some legal precept?

The Second Circuit didn’t do much better. “Golb misunderstands the genre,” they instructed.  “While it is true that parody enjoys First Amendment protection notwithstanding that not everybody will get the joke, it is also true that parody depends on somebody getting the joke; parody succeeds only by its recognition as parody.” Holy cow! You mean the difference between crime and parody is whether the joke falls flat?

Well, if Golb the Younger wants to seek cert from the Supremes, he can quote Appellate Filth. We got the joke.

Posted in Humor, Law & Parody | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughtfully prosecuting your client

Recently received from our employer (we’re not making this up):

“[Public Defender] urges and expects employees to report harassing and discriminatory behavior of third parties, including clients. . . . Rest assured that the response of [Public Defender] to clients who engage in offensive or inappropriate conduct will be a thoughtful response, with due consideration being given to the personal circumstances of the client and the totality of the situation.”

Scene: Judge Blow’s courtroom.

Defendant: Judge, I want a new lawyer!

Judge: You’re indigent, you don’t get a choice.

Defendant: But she’s sent me a summons to appear for questioning before the Public Defender Anti-Discrimination & Harassment Committee!

Judge: Is that true, Ms. Goosestep?

Ms. Goosestep: Absolutely, Judge! He called me a- a – a – (chokes up) an overbearing bitch!

Judge: Well, I’ll certainly remember that at sentencing.

Defendant: How can my own lawyer be bringing charges against me?

Judge: Rest assured, that’s merely a thoughtful response, with due consideration being given to your personal circumstances and the totality of the situation.

Ms. Goosestep: Yeah. I’m entitled to a harassment-free workplace!

Defendant: But I’m entitled to conflict-free representation!

Ms. Goosestep: My entitlement’s bigger than yours!

Defendant: Is not!

Ms. Goosestep: Is so!

Defendant: Is not!

Ms. Goosestep: Is so!

Defendant: Your mama’s so fat, when she goes to the zoo the hippos call her sista.

Ms. Goosestep: Your mama’s so culturally insensitive, she’s still saying “he or she” instead of “they.”

DA:  Now, now, Ms. Goosestep, surely your client has mitigating circumstances. You said so yourself when we charged him with burning down a kindergarten.

Ms. Goosestep: What? Are you telling me to suck it up? You misogynist, sexist, un-woke, cis-gendered pig! I’m reporting you to the Diversity Officer!

Judge: All right, all right, I’ll appoint a new lawyer. Is Mr. Tiretread in the courtroom? Mr. Tiretread?

Mr. Tiretread:  Huh? Wazzit?

Judge: Can you take this man’s case? Despite his egregious victimization of Ms. Goosestep?

Mr. Tiretread: No problem, Judge. I was an old-timer in this courthouse when she was still pooping in her diapers. I been stabbed, punched, spat on, throttled, sued, had my ancestry questioned by clients – and those were the winning cases.

Defendant: I hear they call you Rip van Winkle. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Mr. Tiretread: Button your lip, son. I’ll get you deal they can’t refuse.

Posted in Criminal law, Humor, Law & Parody | 2 Comments

Law vs. Science

Exclusive Interview with the Hon. Judge Wool:

Appellate Squawk: Judge, I understand you were a prominent member of the National Commission on Forensic Science asking some tough questions about the validity of these cop-created sciences.

Judge Wool: I was, but now I’m back to selling pencils outside the courthouse. Our “make-America-great-again” regime replaced us with a law enforcement outfit headed by a prosecutor. The Justice Department has dissed our work as “efforts in the courtroom and elsewhere to reject reliable and admissible forensic evidence.”

A-S: But how can they ignore the National Academy of Science report, the PCAST report and the Innocence Project’s embarrassing revelations of wrongful convictions caused by forensic so-called science?

Judge Wool: Same way the courts manage to ignore them.  Cops are still testifying to “a reasonable degree of ballistic certainty” that a squashed piece of lead could only have been fired from the defendant’s gun. Or to a reasonable degree of inkpad certainty that a smudgy partial print matches the defendant.  As for those trained seals from the Medical Examiner’s Office babbling about how no one in a bajillion gazillion planets except the defendant has the same 3 alleles as those found on the gun, don’t get me started –

A-S: Are you saying courts don’t understand science?

Judge Wool: They understand that science is the enemy of law. Courts wouldn’t last a day if they were held to the same standards as science.  For example, imagine a clinical test where everybody knew whether they were taking the drug or the placebo.

A-S:  It wouldn’t prove anything. The subjects would be influenced by what they knew.

Judge Wool:  Even if they promised under oath not to be influenced? What if they were experienced testees who could be presumed not to be biased by what they knew?

A-S: Why, that’s just like having the same judge do the trial who did the suppression hearing! Or who knows the defendant’s criminal record.

Judge Wool: Exactly. And what if experimental results were considered final and could never be retested because the first experimenter saw and heard the experiment?

A-S: Well –

Judge Wool: Or because the experimenter was a senior scientist? Or swore on the Bible that the results were accurate?

A-S: Science would still be in the Middle Ages.

Judge Wool: Just like the law.

“Goes to weight, not admissibility.”

h/t to Adina Schwartz, firearms & toolmarks skeptic for “to a reasonable degree of ballistic certainty.”

Posted in Forensic "science", Law & Parody | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Searching for the right court for your appeal? View these 521 customer reviews.

One of the great bulwarks of economic justice, at least for online shoppers, is the grassroots literature of customer reviews. A mixture of autobiography, advice and social protest, customer reviews are the expression of the Internet Age from all walks of life, from staid L.L .Bean commentators (“This versatile natural cotton T-shirt was the perfect choice when my husband and I had to swim ashore after our cruise ship sank”), to the picky TripAdvisor tourists, (“Beaches a disappointment. The wife and I didn’t expect so many land mines”), to the opposable-thumb loner, (“Instruction manual is confusing and doesn’t warn you that the bolsters explode unless you shepardize them first. Took hours to assemble, but finally got her to run by rewiring the cornpone”).

Now that every court has a website, there’s no excuse for not including customer reviews. The First Department, always at the forefront of innovation (someday they’ll discover real electronic filing), has initiated a pilot program. Here’s what you can read on their Home Page:

“Fabulous court, helpful, attentive judges. Ruled in our favor when we hadn’t even filed a brief. Would definitely go back.” – – Xerxes Vandal, NY District Attorney.

“I followed the instructions to the letter but the decision they sent me arrived months late, omitted crucial facts and mixed it up with another case. Their legal analysis didn’t fit at all. I sent it back for reargument, but they never responded.” – – A Legal Aide.

“Design is obsolete. All the nuts need adjusting.” – – Appellate Squawk.

“Greasing the wheels will help.” – – Influential White Shoe Lawyer.

Posted in Criminal Defense Appeals, Law & Parody, Satirical cartoons | 1 Comment

Is a lawyer a “significant individual”? Court says nix.

Does being someone’s lawyer make you their “authorized representative” or even a “significant individual,” client-wise? Not if he’s “a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement,” says the Appellate Division. In that case, you’re most likely an annoying buttinsky yapping about “therapeutically counterproductive” notions like due process and autonomy, impeding Doctor from “crafting an appropriate treatment plan.” Mental Hygiene Legal Service v. Sullivan (3rd Dept. 2017).

The plaintiff D.J. is locked up indefinitely in Sex Offender Gulag – which the court describes with a straight face as being a hospitalized patient enrolled in a Care and Treatment Program. The Mental Hygiene statute says he can have an “authorized representative” or “other significant individual” present at his “treatment planning meetings.” Treatment planning,” in the context of forcible confinement, means how much restraint, deprivation, brainwashing and doping up the patient will be subjected to in Sex Offender Hospital.

So when D.J., sensibly reasoning that his lawyer was an authorized representative and significant individual, asked to have her at the meetings, the Care ‘n’ Treatment folks recoiled like vampires before a cross. “Not entitled as a matter of law!” ruled Head Shrink, brandishing his souvenir shop Juris Doctor diploma. “Counsel’s presence would be therapeutically counterproductive!” But he generously allowed an exception if the lawyer could prove “a genuine interest in the care of the patient,” would guarantee that she was “no longer acting in the role of legal representative” and would keep mum about whatever she heard, especially to her law office, the Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS).

You’d think the Appellate Division, presumably paid-up members of the ABA, would tell the doc to stick to his penile plethysmographs and let lawyers do their job.  After all, the Legislature expressly provides lawyers to civilly committed sex offenders for assistance and advocacy, including in treatment planning. If legislatively mandated lawyers aren’t authorized representatives, who is? As for “significant individual,” the Legislature defines it as anyone “concerned with the welfare of the patient.” So what’s not to understand?

But the court, applying the Houdini canon of statutory construction, opined that authorized representative means only someone like a parent or health care proxy who makes ultimate decisions for minors or the hopelessly gaga. MHLS lawyers, in contrast, “must maintain a conventional attorney-client relationship.” What’s a conventional attorney-client relationship? The court doesn’t say, but whatever it is, “it follows that counsel is not an ‘authorized representative.'”

The court wriggles out of recognizing lawyers as significant individuals by saying that “the phrase refers to someone interested in the patient’s welfare and knowledgeable about his or her personal situation rather than someone tasked with providing legal counsel” (emphasis added). Since lawyers’ “narrow legal concerns” are completely at odds with knowing anything about their clients’ personal situation, let alone with giving a flying fish about their welfare, this “compels the conclusion” that they’re not significant individuals. Take that, you client-centered touchy-feely types!

The court is charmingly candid about why lawyers need to be kept out:  “[L]egal advocacy may easily conflict with crafting an appropriate treatment plan if the medically advisable treatment conflicts with the client’s legal goals” (citing a case where a lawyer interfered with a patient’s medically advisable treatment by insisting on investigating her claims of abuse by staff).

Nor does D.J.’s lawyer qualify for the Genuinely Caring exception, says the court,  since D.J. failed to prove that they “have developed the type of personal relationship” that makes the latter a “significant individual.” His lawyer’s just too darn busy pursuing narrow legal goals.

The dissent, closer to Planet Earth, argues that a “resident” might have legitimate objections to what Sex Offender Hospital calls “care and treatment,” and that his lawyer is both an authorized representative and a significant individual (citing a case where involuntarily committed patients successfully objected to care and treatment in the form of forced medication).

But the majority happily swallows the pretense that civil commitment is “hospitalization” to cure the “patient,” no matter how much it looks, walks and quacks like punishment.

C.S. Lewis long ago described the deadliness of conflating punishment with therapy:

[W]hat had hampered every English police force up to date was precisely the idea of deserved punishment. For desert was always finite: you do so much to the criminal and no more. Remedial treatment on the other hand, need have no fixed limit: it could go on till it had effected a cure, and those who were carrying it out would decide when that was. And if cure were humane and desirable, how much more prevention? Soon anyone who had ever been in the hands of the police at all would come under control of N.I.C.E; in the end every citizen.

C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 69 (Scribner Paperback Edition, 1996)(1943) (h/t to Art Baer of MHLS who pursues his clients’ legal goals and their welfare).

Posted in Satirical cartoons, sex offenders | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Squawk has been ungood

If the wrath of the humorless is a satirist’s badge of honor, we’ve been awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for our recent post “Are you a cissie?

The post (trigger warning!) is a spoof of compulsory workplace “trainings” proselytizing the fashionable notion of gender issues über alles. Our point was that although genderism may be a harmless enough ideology for personal life, it’s intrusive, irrelevant and potentially offensive to foist it on people we’re supposed to be defending from criminal prosecution.

OMG, the cries of “Homophobic!” “Racist!” “Heavy hearts, anger and anguish!” “Resistance to the Truth!” that went up from a claque of goodthink colleagues.  Grievances! Complaints! Running to Mommy Management!  Of course we support free speech, they harrumph, but not when it offends us!

Apparently they skipped First Amendment in law school for fear of being traumatized.  But if criticism of their beliefs makes them anguished and apoplectic, how in the (real) world do they function as lawyers?

Judge: The defendant Joe Blow is charged with burglary.

Defense Attorney: Harassment! Discrimination! My client is disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system!

Prosecutor: You can say that again. He’s got eleven priors.

Attorney: How dare you put my client in the unfair and exhausting position of having to defend himself!  You disgusting white supremacist! You – you-  phobe!

Prosecutor: But I’m not white –

Judge: Um, counselor, I believe the People have already offered a conditional discharge and a program.  

Joe Blow: I’ll take it. 

Attorney: I’m telling on you to the Bar Association!  I’m filing a Title VII complaint! You’re gonna get in trouble!

We shudder to think what their appellate briefs look like:

It is with a heavy heart, anger and anguish that appellant responds to the bigoted, ugly People’s denigration of my client as “guilty.” This belittling, demeaning label is deeply offensive to Mr. Blow who has expressly stated his preference for being called not guilty.  

Yup, disagreement is harassment. Criticism is discrimination. Diversity is conformity.  Newspeak is reality.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Criminal Defense Appeals, Law & Parody, Satirical cartoons | 9 Comments