Oliver J. Richards

Saving the republic one rant at a time

Media Fatigue

I have finally reached the breaking point.  I can take no more.

It hit me this morning, seeing all of the “outrage” against the Supreme Court over Hobby Lobby while browsing my facebook feed and news sites—fatigue. I simply cannot fight the rising tide of ignorance and mock outrage.  That is not to say that I agree or disagree with the ruling.  I am just saying that (a) you should probably know what you are talking about to express outrage, and (b) it’s just one case in a term that had more unanimity than any term on the court since 1940.   

I guess it’s just confirmation bias.  People have a conclusion already formed in their mind that the Supreme Court is trying to wreck the country or whatever and look for data to support that conclusion.  Rather than focusing on the momentous, hugely important 4th Amendment cases decided last week, they decide to focus on this relatively unimportant and narrowly decided case.

Whoa, you say.  Unimportant?  Yes.  First off, corporations are not going to be jumping on the religious bandwagon just to save whatever miniscule amount of money that would come from getting this exception.  So, this ruling doesn’t actually affect that many people.  Companies generally like making money and the consumer backlash would likely cost much more money than what they would save through not providing contraception. Second, think about Hobby Lobby—have you known anyone who works there that didn’t know about their religious beliefs and/or didn’t agree with them. Sure, I guess there are a few, but for the most part, my experience has been that people choose to work there because they agree with the religious tenets of the store.  I don’t know much about Conestega Wood (yes, people angrily posting on my facebook feed, there was another case as well—perhaps look into the case before you angrily post about it), but I would imagine it is much the same.

I guess the moral of the story is is that this juxtaposition is so telling of our time. We would rather get angry and upset by a largely symbolic decision rather than get excited about a decision that has changes things on the ground and has potential lasting impact (i.e. the 4th Amendment cases).  We would rather focus on the political divide and Justice Ginsburg “slamming” conservatives in her dissent than look at the unanimity on the court.  We have a predetermined outlook that the conservative Supreme Court is trying to wreck our country (or vice versa), and look for data to support our preformed conclusion rather than using data to form a conclusion.  Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes fall into this trap as well, but I try to stop myself as much as I can.  

I’m tired of fighting against this tide, for today at least.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll get back to fighting for rationality and reality.  

The Supreme Court and Edward Snowden

Just a quick thought that I’d like to spark some discussion on. Looking at some of the cases prior to these two momentous decisions for digital civil liberties, the result seems rather surprising. The court seemed to go out of it’s way in both Jones and Jardines to craft a narrow rule based on a property-based understanding of the 4th Amendment. Today, we have a sweeping, unanimous ruling declaring broad protection of personal data in the digital age. The decision come as quite a (pleasant) surprise to many a commentator and court watcher. (http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/symposium-surprising-unanimity-even-more-surprising-clarity/)

What happened?

Well, alot has changed since last June in the real world thanks to a man named Edward Snowden. Just about a year ago, the world was informed of broad, sweeping programs by the NSA to collect all the data. The justices live in the real world and have to have seen this. In my mind, today’s decisions have alot to do with these revalations. Just look at this language from the decisions: THE FOUNDERS DID NOT FIGHT A REVOLUTION TO GAIN THE RIGHT TO GOVERNMENT AGENCY PROTOCOLS.” - CJ Roberts

So, what do you think? Did Edward Snowden have a hand in these decisions?

Just a brief textual analysis from the “Rules of Decorum” of a federal courthouse.  You’d think that a court charged with textual analysis would perhaps do a better job of making sure that its rules are internally consistent.  (Note: I am 100% sure that the judges on the court have never seen this document.)
Just two things that immediately spring to mind:
1. I like that only “exaggerated” gesticulating is prohibited.  I am going to mildly gesticulate all over the place.  Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.
2.  Cameras, including those contained in computers and other electronic devices, are prohibited, but clearly phones are allowed (“Phones must be kept off”).  So are computers used by counsel.  I guess we all have to travel back to the 90’s to find phones and computers that don’t contain cameras? 

Just a brief textual analysis from the “Rules of Decorum” of a federal courthouse.  You’d think that a court charged with textual analysis would perhaps do a better job of making sure that its rules are internally consistent.  (Note: I am 100% sure that the judges on the court have never seen this document.)

Just two things that immediately spring to mind:

1. I like that only “exaggerated” gesticulating is prohibited.  I am going to mildly gesticulate all over the place.  Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

2.  Cameras, including those contained in computers and other electronic devices, are prohibited, but clearly phones are allowed (“Phones must be kept off”).  So are computers used by counsel.  I guess we all have to travel back to the 90’s to find phones and computers that don’t contain cameras? 

We’re all living off of our parents

Hello all— it’s been a while I know.  But whatever. I’m writing something now, and that’s what matters, I guess … 

I got bored last night because the sports bowl turned out to be a major bust and HBO didn’t broadcast a new episode of True Detectives, so I decided to watch a couple of episodes of Girls.  Yea, embarrassing (is it?) I guess, but whatever.  I’m not ashamed.  I watched a few episodes.  I just moved to New York City and I’m still really confused by the people here and maybe I thought the show could give me some insight.  

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s meh, okay I guess.  The lead character seems to get naked at every opportunity.  Whatever.  But it’s about a bunch of people in NYC who just seem to mope around not really doing anything—the malaise of being mid twenties in New York.  I guess its a modern show about my generation—the generation of perpetual unpaid internships and the “we’ll make it eventually, no hurry, our parents worked hard and made a bunch of money, and let’s all talk about our feelings.”

What I realized is that our generation is really just living off of the exploits of our parents—both financially and socially.  The financial thing is easy to see, but we can’t even get our own social movements.  Chanting and protesting is so 1960’s.  Modern movements all use rhetoric from the 1960’s too—rhetoric borrowed from the great social movements of recent American history. 

We live in a different time.  Instead of sticking to old tactics (tactics that don’t really work—what happened Occupy?), try something new.  Instead of staging people to get arrested to make it on the news, make persuasive arguments on the news.  Instead of running campaigns to embarrass those that disagree with you, try changing some minds.  Instead of changing your profile picture for “solidarity,”  get up and actually do something.  

Come on compadres,  let’s all cure our malaise and apathy.  Or not.  whatever.

(BTW, I know this piece sucks—I have 11 drafts waiting polishing that I have never gotten back around to.  I didn’t really have time to fully form my thoughts before putting them down.  As it turns out, law school is pretty time consuming.)

Also, malaise is an amazing word.  It just rolls off the tongue like butter.  It’s probably one of the best words that sounds exactly what it means.  Another good word—murine.  It means from a mouse.  For medical stuff.)