girl ipsa loquitur: 07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004 Email me!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

A Rose by Any Other Name...

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Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a law requiring persons to disclose their names to police officers when asked.  The short story there was an arrest of a man for failure to disclose his name to police.  He thought it was a little gulag ("We must see your Papers!") to be arrested for merely NOT telling his name.  In the absence of some other probable cause to question him... I tend to agree.  But the Supreme Court didn't agree. 

I am all ready on record as not being a slippery slope girl but  I go to school with some serious activists so I know the slippery slope line of reasoning.  (Where will it all end?  What's next?  Who will stop the madness?)  The argument here is that cops shouldn't just be asking people their names, since names are a lot like finger prints these days.  Names are keys to unlock doors which lead to secret information.  And the police should be required to have either Probable Cause (the holy grail of investigation) or at least Reasonable Articulable Suspicion (it's bratty little brother).  Okay.  That's not a bad place to draw the line.  Think about it.

Picture this.  You're standing around, minding your own business, when a police officer asks you your name.  Feeling very AMERICAN (it's a free country) today you decide that it's not really any of her business **.  You haven't done anything wrong and there is no reason to suspect that you have, so you say "I'd rather not say.  Good day, Madam."  You've just broken a law.  (depending on what jurisdiction you're in)  You can be arrested for this.  Punished for it.  For your pinko-commie non-compliance.  Further, your failure to name yourself could arguably be considered Probable Cause to suspect you of something.  Otherwise, why not tell(Slippery slope fans jump on your sleds) 
For the non-legally inclined I will mention that once you are lawfully arrested, here for failure to give your name, you can be lawfully searched without a shred of further probable cause.  (We are speeding down the slope now, close to out of control.  Who will stop the madness?)
On the other hand, fear that police will use this handy little law to shoe horn otherwise unconstitutional searches into the "Search Incident to Lawful Arrest" category is just more pinko propaganda, right?  Well, I'm not so sure.  Check out this little incident.  This was not a tell us your name case but the principle is the same.

Guy gets spotted (read: Profiled as ILLEGAL)  minding his owning business  (read: Loitering) and ends up arrested.  He doesn't want to give his name cause that will lead to discovering that he is breaking some serious immigration laws.  So, to begin with, he lies about his name but eventually they figure out who he is and the jig is up.

When he finally ends up in court a very clever lawyer says "Hey, the whole stop and subsequent interrogation was unconstitutional and therefore you shouldn't be able to use his NAME which you got as a result of the unconstitutional "stop" in the first place."  Generally, evidence obtained in violation of a persons rights is  inadmissible against him. (We call that fruit of the poisonous tree)  This rule discourages unconstitutional police behavior.    But this rule does not apply to identity.  No matter how egregious the violation that lead to the identification, the identification itself can not be suppressed.  It may be poison fruit but it remains untainted.  This stupid name law would mean it's not even poison fruit anymore.

What's to stop police from just asking EVERYBODY?  "Hey, what's your name?"  Once I have your name I can open up that secret stash of information.  If you refuse to give me your name I can arrest you and then open up that secret stash in your pockets.  Either way, I am fishing.  No longer required to have probable cause or to even be able to articulate a suspicion.  And the only thing that stands between me and you is my GOOD WORD that I am not going to just fish.  Since I've got nothing to lose.

You may be tempted, like I once was, to say "Hello! I am not a criminal so why should I care what happens to criminals?" Let me remind you that you are not a criminal today, but tomorrow you may feel grumpy and not want to tell the nice officer your name.  You might think that crazy Constitution was intended to protect you from getting questioned on the street for no good reason.

 All I can say then is "Don't drop the soap."

** I use a lady officer so those of you that are bored can just think about chicks with hand cuffs.


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"Tho' boys thro' stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

This LAND!

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You have to check this out!  It is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.  This Land by JibJab!  Wish I could make cartoons...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Need an Opinion? Just Use MINE

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Fox News is trying to trademark its "Fair and Balanced" motto.  (If they are successful I plan to trademark my "I am the smartest girl in the universe" motto.  We'll see how that goes )  Does this strike anyone else as a strange thing to trademark?  I understand that they like the motto.  But do they need to protect it from general use by others?  I like to think that I am fair and balanced... Can I say that without infringing?  It reminds me of Trump's catchy-phrase "You're Fired".  He tried to trademark that baby, leaving millions of employers with a huge problem.  How to fire that guy without saying "You're fired".  (Double whammy = "After a fair and balanced evaluation you're fired")

A trademark is not necessary to adopt a motto.  I guess Fox wants the trademark so Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage can't start calling themselves "Fair and Balanced" as well.  Which makes just about as much sense.  Fox isn't fair and balanced.  And all their labeling of themselves won't change that.  The question is; Who believes that they are?
Apparently we do.  Or we might.  A petition was filed with the Federal Trade commission claiming that Fox News' use of the slogan "Fair and Balanced" constitutes deceptive advertising.  Deception in advertising is a big deal.  Unwary consumers have been afforded protection from unscrupulous merchants making wild claims about their products.  Commercial advertisers have to be truthful for good reason.  For instance, you can not market your new SUV as "More energy efficient than WALKING!" without some proof of the factual nature of the claim.  You can't just make stuff up.  (Put that Super Sugar Doughnut & Cookie cereal into a new box which says "Carb Free!"**)
Generally, this applies to stuff, not ideas or opinions, right?  I predict that the political advocacy groups trying to stop Fox from using its slogan will have a tough time.  After all Fox has no obligation to actually be fair and balanced.  But those groups do have a point.  Too frequently people hear "news" that's been spun and twisted and edited and targeted to suit the agenda of the reporting folks, only to take it as "Fair and Balanced".  That's like letting parents judge the baby beauty contest.  ("After fair and balanced consideration of all the entrants I am left with the obvious conclusion that MY baby is the most beautiful.") 
Take, for instance, Michael Moore.  A lot of people are peeved at him for being biased.  Well, duh.  He has an opinion.  He'd like you to have have the same opinion.  He attempts to persuade you.  Do we know anyone else like this?  We've mentioned two, but there are more.  People (Personalities) selling opinions just like any other product. 

Caveat Emptor, Dittoheads.
Whether or not the FTC has something to say about Fox's motto remains to be seen.  Until then, I plan to formulate my own opinions based on as many facts as I can gather.  If you're a busy person you're welcome to just adopt my opinions as they are clearly the correct (and Now Carb Free!) opinions to have.
** If you don't count the sugar

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Lowest Common Denominator

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I know it seems nutty but I am pretty peeved with the dictionary.  (I do know that it's not entirely the dictionary's fault but you gotta blame someone)  I looked up preventative (with that extra TA in there) in order to prove that this pronunciation was wrong.  I was shocked to discover this (mis)pronunciation right in there with all the real words.  True, the definition does say "see preventive" but it is given full actual word status just by listing it there in the first place. 
Frequently new words get into the dictionary because they become so commonly used in our language that we have to acknowledge them.  This is generally nic-names for things, slang, vernacular.  (see: QWERTY)  I don't mind this really.  It is making up whole new words and there is some utility to that I guess.  But I want to clearly distinguish that from lending legitimacy to a mispronunciation.  Preventative does not have any new meaning, it just has a new syllable.  I contend that the original word, the correct word, was up to the task of communicating the concept of preventive.  It was not defective or even too tough to say.  So why are we giving any legitimacy to it's ill formed clone?
To my mind, everything appears to be devolving.  Every where you look there are examples of catering to the lowest common denominator.  If the dictionary is not going to hold the line at actual words, then what will?  The preventative entry seems to say "Well, you all insist on saying it this way so who are we to correct you?"  Um... You're the damn dictionary.  Get it straight please, so I can go back to being superior Ms. Language Girl.  This does not bode well for scrabble, now does it?
I'll tell you what I foresee with a great sense of foreboding in the forefuture.  (I know forefuture is not a word BUT it was a fun alliteration and everyone else is doing it so why can't I?)  I am really worried about nuculer war.  I'm not too sure if it's the same as nuclear war but it sounds sort of scary to me. 
Give me a minute here to go paint my windows black, cover everything in duct tape and put on my protective clothing.
These counter measures are not to protect myself from nuculer war, but from the caustic fall out coming my way after I say this~  Why is it that the leader of the free world can not take a moment and learn to properly pronounce nuclear?  It's right there in the arrangement of the letters.  (The arrangement of the letters is the secret key)
Ok.  I have to admit that I have no personal knowledge of the presidents IQ.  Further, I have no "source" for this information that I can trust to adequately brief me on the presidents IQ.  All I have to go on is what I hear and see on TV.  I don't know the guy (Smart money says neither do you)  but every time he opens his mouth and says nuculer I have to stifle a giggle.  Come on!  He sounds dumb as a stone.
As for me, I will continue to be mortified every time I mispronounce a word and there is a lot of that in my future since I'm learning a whole new language; LawLatin.  (take a crack at certiorari and then you'll know why most of us just say cert)  This may be my social undoing as well.  Nobody likes an uptight language nazi.  On the other hand, after this post, I'll have to contend with an upset spell checker as well.  It doesn't understand nuculer either.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Join Arnold! or You're a GIRLY Man

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Some Democrats are upset today over our governors speech given on Saturday in which he called democratic legislators "Girly Men". Who wouldn't be upset? After all, what speaks more to your apparent manhood than fearless legislation in the face of criticism? Wait. Did I get that right? Or is it fearlessly Joining Arnold in the face of absurdity? I don't know. I am neither a man nor a legislator.

Here is the gist of the Dems complaint, as far as I was able to follow it. Calling someone a girly man is homophobic and misogynistic. Do we need to trace the history of the phrase "Girly Man" to discover that this spin is silly? It comes from Saturday Night Live. It addresses a lack of body-building physical perfection, not gender or sexual orientation. It's a joke on Arnold. If the term were addressed directly to a gay man then it would be a gay slur. But short of that, its just a catch phrase. No harm no foul -- at least on the Democrats. My advice is let it go. Because right now all the crying, whining democrats who want to make a huge discrimination issue out of this are just distracting from the real issue. Arnold is an idiot. (Oops, did I say that out loud?)

It is just another case of "The Democrats that Cried Wolf".

How can you expect to ever be taken seriously if you blow every, single, teeny thing into a federal case. (I love it that this "federal case" reference is in the common vernacular)  Arnold's use of the phrase was ridiculous.  But not because it's discriminatory.  It was ridiculous because it has no logical place in intelligent debate.  It is name calling, pure and simple.  It is the course of last resort for bullies of all kinds.  If you can't think of anything cogent to say just point and laugh. 
Democratic law makers should have mentioned that.  They should have said "Hey, Arnold! Have you run out of stuff to say?  What's next?  Where's the beef?"  Instead, they've taken this rather nutty position of crying homophobia.  It is just distracting from the vacuity of what Arnold said.  (I call him Arnold not so much to show disrespect but because I can't spell his last name) 

I am really tired of all of it anyway.  What does being a girly man have to do with writing appropriate, thoughtful, useful legislation?  Our government has turned into a high school macrocosm.  Look who we voted to be class president?  That most popular muscle-bound captain of the football team, Arnold.  Did he ever tell us what qualified him to be the governor?  Nope, he just said he'd do the stuff we'd all like done and smiled a lot.

This latest speech is just more of that.  Look at how witty and popular I am!  Able to make a joke on those democrats that has all my buddies laughing their butts off.  Forgive me if I have misapprehended this but isn't the governor supposed to be actually doing something besides making us all feel superior and cracking jokes?

Every time we allow important business, like legislation for crying out loud, to be reduced to name calling, finger-pointing bickering we diminish it.  We should endeavor to raise the bar, folks. To expect more, not less.  I am disappointed that the Dems have stretched a stupid catch phrase so far out of proportion.  Then again, I am always disappointed when people I would like to have some respect for dive into the dog pile and scrap with the less imaginative.

Next up, how language is headed for that lowest common denominator to join Arnold.

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." ~ Emily Dickinson

"Ouch!" ~ Mrs. Palsgraff

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