Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has publicly apologized after ordering one of his aides to rape a pregnant journalist.
Zhirinovsky said he had “spoken out of turn” when addressing the female reporter at a press conference on Friday, and claimed he did not know that she was pregnant when he began his tirade.
"I apologize to her and to everyone in general that I may have offended," Zhirinovsky said on Vladimir Solovyov’s Sunday evening talk show on the Rossia-1 channel.
I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I think this is a particularly terrible apology.
"[E]veryone … that I may have offended" is always a bad way to go because it suggests the offender thinks a fair number of people weren’t or wouldn’t be offended; it’s an especially bad choice of words in this case because everyone who saw or heard about this man’s insane tirade was offended.
Worse, though, was his attempt to minimize his offense, saying only that he’d “spoken out of turn.” In fact, what he said was that one female reporter should be raped, that a second female reporter who refused to stand idly by during the tirade was a lesbian, and that pregnant women in general should remain home where they belong.
That he attempts to excuse himself by claiming “he did not know that she was pregnant when he began his tirade” compounds his repugnant behavior by implying that none of this would have been seen as a problem if he’d said these things to or about a woman who wasn’t pregnant. In other words, he seems to believe that telling his aides to rape a female reporter who asked a question he didn’t like is only offensive if that reporter turns out to be pregnant. “I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize she was pregnant” might be something to say if you fail to offer your seat to a woman on the subway. Given what Zhirinovsky said, whether or not the reporter was pregnant isn’t an issue.
It’s pretty stunning and horrible to have to write any of this, but certainly not more stunning or horrible than Zhirinovsky’s behavior.
In candor, I have been a dirty old man ever since I was a very young man. Except, that is, when it comes to my daughters (and other young women that I care deeply about). And that brings me to the amusing debate about how (mostly) young female lawyers dress these days.
That’s Richard Kopf, a Senior U.S. District Court Judge here in Nebraska, writing on his blog earlier this week.
Kopf explains to female lawyers that they should dress more conservatively, giving the example of a young lawyer who draws a great deal of attention to herself — very positive attention from men and very negative attention from female law clerks — as a result of her physical attributes and her clothing choices:
“She is brilliant, she writes well, she speaks eloquently, she is zealous but not overly so, she is always prepared, she treats others, including her opponents, with civility and respect, she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest. I especially appreciate the last two attributes.”
In the comments, when challenged by someone who said that at least three female law clerks had no idea who this young lawyer might be, Kopf argued that he wasn’t really referring to a specific person but to “an amalgam,” though he begins his description of the woman with the words “True story.”
Not surprisingly, the blog post has garnered a lot of negative attention. In a follow-up post, Kopf doubles down:
I honestly don’t care how you (or others) remember me.* I do care passionately that federal trial judges be seen as individuals with all the strengths and weakness (baggage) that everyone else carries around.
If, on balance, you think the post was harmful to the image of the federal judiciary and truly treated women as objects, I am very, very, very sorry for that, but I would ask you to pause and reread it. I hope you will find upon objective reflection that the mockery I make of myself and the hyperbole and somewhat mordant tone I employed, made a point worth considering.
In the rough and tumble world of a federal trial practice, it is sometimes necessary to see and react to that world as it is rather than as we wish it would be.
In other words, there are lots of men in the world of federal trial practice (and in the world, generally) who are sexists, who leer at women, who care less about the work done by a women than about her physical attributes. And the reality of this situation, the judge believes, obviously necessitates that women need to change their behavior and pay careful attention to the choices they make.
At some point, I have to assume, we’re going to move past this kind of nonsense as a society. But in 2014, when a federal judge feels totally confident about expressing this sort of opinion publicly for the good of women everywhere … well, we’re pretty clearly not there yet, are we?
I was watching a conversation unfold on Facebook about religion, dating, and traditional values in marriages — brought on by some reality tv star entering into some sort of courtship relationship. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that a return to these “old ways” was obviously good, but one participant was concerned about the age difference between the young man and the young woman:
it’s problematic to have a 20-year-old girl with an 18-year-old boy. I’d advise against it. In our increasingly feminized society, men need some age advantage to lead when young, I think.
Pretty much none of this made any sense to me and, when I intruded on the conversation to ask what in the world this all meant, I received no reply.
We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:
- The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
- the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
- the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
- the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
- the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality….
So that’s what’s going on here.
It’s all about the virtues of inequality between men and women, and about the damage done to society by — let’s see — feminism, homosexuality, pornography, egalitarianism, and probably a whole bunch of other things too.
Having thought about it for just a few minutes, I have to say that what bothers me so much about this sort of thing isn’t just all the nonsense about inequality or sexuality. It’s also that it makes it so much more difficult to be a person of faith today because you constantly have to deal with the perception that you have a connection to or relationship with this kind of nonsense.
I’ve been having an interesting conversation with my friend Drew Jacob in light of a story he sent along to me. Because the details of the story were a bit difficult to fully understand and because they involved allegations of sexual harrassment/assault, I hesitated to write anything here. I felt that I simply didn’t have sufficient information to provide much in the way of informed commentary.
That said, as our discussion went on, we began to get to some of the underlying issues that made the story stand out to us; these focused on questions of vigilantism and justice. And that, I think, gives me some purchase for a discussion.
The basic story, which has apparently gotten quite a lot of attention in certain quarters but which I hadn’t seen before, is that a woman was made to feel very uncomfortable by a man at a party that was connected in some way to a recent science fiction convention she attended. At one point, the man was taking up too much space while sitting next to her and was leaning on her; at another point, he seemed to have followed her and then rubbed her arm as if consoling her when her boyfriend became ill. She reported the man to security and to the convention staff who responded to her concerns in a way that she deemed appropriate and helpful. After the convention ended, the woman wrote a post (which she says then went viral) that contained the man’s name and photo, as well as information about his educational and employment history in order to bring attention to him and his behavior (which was, she apparently learned, something he’d done before).
The interesting question, for someone who writes about heroism, is whether the woman’s actions constitute vigilantism (which I oppose) or, to borrow a phrase from Jacob, citizen-activism (which seems like something we might want to encourage)?
My problem with vigilantism is that there aren’t any rules to follow and any action undertaken is entirely up to the individual who decides to act as a vigilante. Since we’re all generally bad judges in our own cases, it’s an awful lot of power to put at one person’s discretion.
But can the same be said of citizen-activists? And what distinguishes the two?
Here’s Jacob, who is interested in:
the circumstances under which activist citizens … can be a force for good, and temper or eliminate the inherent risks of vigilantism.
[Consider] campus safety escorts for women late at night. If the volunteer escort’s intention is to use his fists if anyone tries to assault her, then he’s a dangerous vigilante; but the point … is that an assault is less likely to occur in the first place if there are multiple people walking/biking the area where assaults often happen. It is a deterrent, not an attempt at superheroism, and that may well be the defining characteristic of a “beneficial” vigilante [read: citizen-activist]… that, and the criterion I suggested in our earlier correspondence: having a group or organization rather than acting alone, and being transparent to the public and (especially) law enforcement.
Neither Jacob nor I have any of this figured out, but it seemed like an interesting place to begin a discussion.
So … is the woman in this story a vigilante or a citizen-activist? What makes you think so? And are these categories helpful in distinguishing between behavior that makes us uncomfortable or concerned (because it could be dangerous to individuals or our community) and behavior that ought to make us more comfortable insofar as it attempts to assist us and our community? Or do you think that my discomfort with vigilantism is unwarranted?
A trillion gallons of electronic ink — and even more vitriol — has been spilled over HBO’s “Girls” in the past couple of years. I’ve been watching since the beginning, generally enjoying the show, and not partaking in either bashing or defending Lena Dunham for what she created.
After watching the recent episode that revolves around Hannah’s birthday party, I realized why it never occurred to me to critique or defend the show. At one point Shoshanna says to her friends, “It’s really amazing that all three of you have accomplished so little in the four years since college.” The line stood out to me because it highlighted how little the women on “Girls” resemble any of the women I knew when I was in my mid-20s or the women I know who are in their mid-20s today.
The women I know graduated from college and went on to get graduate degrees; took jobs at NGOs, law firms, consulting firms, and universities; got married and had children; and went abroad with the Peace Corps and taught with Teach for America, amongst many other things. They were (and are) busy and impressive to all outward appearance, and I’m sure they (and their concerns) were (and are) also silly, petty, and banal sometimes … because, really, who isn’t?
So I watch “Girls” and it seems like fiction to me. It’s entertainment and, insofar as I’m entertained by it, I don’t see anything to either revile or defend. I never felt the need to get involved in the arguments about the real-world consequences or implications of the show because it seemed entirely unreal to me. Shoshanna’s assessment of these women who are her friends really brought home the unreality of their lives, at least from my own admittedly pretty narrow perspective.
The way I’ve described this state is that a part of the organism is still alive, obviously, but the organism as a whole — the human being — is gone.
That’s Dr. James L. Bernat, the Louis and Ruth Frank professor of Neuroscience at Dartmouth’s medical school, discussing brain death and the cases of Jahi McMath and Marlise Muñoz.
McMath’s parents want to keep a ventilator running because they’re hoping for a miracle; the hospital wants to turn it off since McMath is legally dead. Muñoz’s parents and husband want to turn a ventilator off, but the hospital won’t allow it because Muñoz is pregnant.
I’ve written a fair amount about brain death, human life, and human personhood in the past — and there’s a whole chapter that deals with the topic in my first book — but these case are fundamentally different from the ones I’ve written about. The cases I considered were, in some ways, more challenging; they dealt with patients whose higher brain function has ceased but whose lower brain function, in contrast to McMath and Muñoz, continued.
McMath and Muñoz aren’t in some legal or medical gray area. In the first case, the family is, not unexpectedly, having a terrible time coping with an inexplicable tragedy. In the second case, the family is attempting to come to grips with their tragedy but the state is insisting that no harm come to the fetus she is carrying.
The mess, in both instances, seems to stem from religious belief butting heads with scientific understanding. McMath’s parents are praying for a miracle; the state insists that the fetus that’s been saved by keeping Muñoz alive is a rights-bearing person. In the former case, the harm done by keeping the patient on a ventilator is difficult to pinpoint; in the latter case, it’s very clear that the state’s intervention is doing direct harm to the Muñoz family.
(Source: The New York Times)
There’s a surprisingly strong correlation between 20-something white guys who occasionally post borderline sexist, homophobic, racist, or anti-Semitic stuff on their Facebook Timelines (which they then can’t believe anyone could possibly find sexist, homophobic, racist, or anti-Semitic) and 20-something white guys who quote Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek on their Facebook Timelines.
Not causation, mind you, just correlation.
Many people have called philosophy the combat sport of academia.
That’s philosopher Louise Antony, in a big New York Times piece on academic philosophy.
"Wow! A piece in the Times about philosophy professors!,” I thought to myself. But, no, it’s about Colin McGinn, whose sexually harassment of a graduate student seems to have knocked him right out of his tenured gig at Miami.
[OK, I didn’t actually think the above to myself since the article is accompanied by a photo of McGinn walking on the beach.]
As important as a public condemnation of McGinn’s behavior might be, I think it’s more importantly that the piece — toward the end — looks closely at the difficulties associated with being (or even attempting to be) a female philosopher. That’s the part of the article that ought to be read carefully and that the discipline as a whole needs to work diligently to address.
It’s perhaps not surprising to many that women have a much more difficult path in the discipline than men — and that, even when they make it, their work is still marginalized — but the lack of surprise makes it no less troubling.
(Source: The New York Times)
An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies.
Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, pronouncing Texas Senate Bill 5 dead.
If you missed State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster of a bill that would virtually ban abortion in Texas yesterday, or the chaos that ensued when it ended at the close of the legislative session and some legislators decided to try voting on it anyway, here’s a brief recap.
Say what you will about the whole notion of the filibuster, but you have to admit that a talking filibuster is an impressive thing to behold. That it — or a vocal gallery watching the proceedings — amounts to “An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics” is just sour grapes from someone who might be accused of caring more about chipping away at a particular policy he personally opposes than about the rules of the Senate over which he presides.
I’ve been staring at this for five minutes, trying to decide whether the Adams or the Franklin is clearly the best. All I’ve decided for sure is that Antonin Scalia would not be amused by this at all.
"Surely that can’t be right?"
"It’s fun watching you go extinct."
According to his Twitter account, Bryan Fischer is “Director of Issue Analysis, American Family Association; Host of Focal Point radio program on AFR Talk network.”
He has lots of thoughts about a lot of things. I can’t prove that they’re all wrong … but it’s a distinct possibility.