Friday, October 01, 2004

Ashamed to be a Buckeye

This is hardly a letter from a Birmingham jail, but as OSU announces tomorrow its new non-discrimination policy that's not, I felt the need to share not only some summations of the meeting today but also my own thoughts on the issue.

Notes from the meeting are in bold, my own comments are normal type.

Dean Davies ran the meeting, Dean Rogers connected via speaker phone. (Dean Rogers didn't say much the entire time, she was on a phone in the car).

VP for student affairs Bill Hall is the one who apparantly made the decision about the new policy.
Rich Hollingsworth associate v.p for student affairs also present.
Kim _____ from legal affairs present as well.
Hollingsworth didn't say much, while Kim spoke when Hall faltered and didn't know what to say.

The reason for meeting at late moment: announcement to be made tomorrow, didn’t want students to hear about this in the paper for the first time.
Ok, granted, that's a noble goal. So why did I have to hear about it from someone else? Why were "regular" students not told (i.e. those not in a leadership position, and those not in Outlaws? What is the admininstration afraid of? That heteros like myself would learn about this decision, and not agree???

Hall: the new policy was his decision, and he wanted to share reasons behind the decision.
Several hours later, still waiting to hear them, beyond "it was in the best interests of the university." Of course, what defines "the university" seems to be somewhat subjective, as I would personally believe that, oh, I don't know, MAYBE NOT DISCRIMINATING would be in the best interests of the university. But what do I know, I don't have a long fancy title behind my name.

Hall's Prepared remarks:
In essence the decision is that the new guidelines allow groups that have religious beliefs to adopt discrim policies that are in accordance with those religious beliefs. (WTF?!!!)


He claims to be personally and professionally against discrimination, but had to make this decision in the best interests of the university.

He’s aware of the discussion within the law school, but also aware and sensitive to religious beliefs that are strongly held.

Disagreement among the legal community, outside and inside OSU.

His job was difficult.
You'll have to excuse me if I fail to feel all that sympathetic for Mr. Hall. Bull Conner's job was difficult too.

His decision is supposed to be the best decision for the entire university.
Decision doesn’t represent a reversal of OSU policy.
So, we can summarize the OSU discrimination policy thusly: You can't discriminate, unless you really want to. Then you can discriminate. Makes sense, and I can certainly see how that's not a reversal of OSU policy.

Also, the policy only applies to student groups of people with strongly held religious beliefs.
Well gee, that makes me feel better. Certainly nobody with strongly held religous beliefs has ever done anything that's morally wrong. Ever.

A question asked if there was anything discussed about non-sexual discrimination issues…he claims that they’ll follow the law of the land.
I'm sure the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King would be proud.

Student organizations can now be exempt from the discrimination policies

At this point I asked how we can be on the forefront of the discrimination issue if we're going to effectively step back and say "someone else make this decision, it's too hard."

Hall claims to be “on the forefront of the decision” now that the issue has been resolved at this time… That makes sense, in a Bushian kind of way. The war is going well because it's going bad.

Dean Rogers: other institutions are also currently facing that.

Yes, we know that, but are we freakin' Ohio State, or are we St. Mary's Sisters of the Blind and Poor University????

Someone asked why the decision was being made at this point in time.

Hill: he’s made his decision b/c student groups were requesting allocations of funds, he met with groups that requested to meet with him.

A student asked: is the suit still pending? Yes, it is.

Hall: “I’ve been supportive of LBGT rights in the past, I’ll continue with that, doing everything I can to fight discrimination.
Including passing a discrimination policy that allows discrimination. That fits, I guess.

Colker: I agree, I'm ashamed as well. There are no “unless the law requires otherwise” clauses in the policy, i.e. the race issue (Hill claims that under Title VI we wouldn’t be able to discriminate.

Hall just says “I disagree with your interpretation of the policy.”
His assistant says “you’re correct that the way the policy is drafted it applies to everything


At this point, I had to ask another question. I asked, in effect: So, as I hear the policy, if I were a member of the World Church of the Creator, Nathan Hale's Neo-Nazi church, [which believes that whites are superior to all others], and I correspondingly started a student group for that organization, if I really really really really really believed that blacks and asians were inferior and thus should be excluded, I could effectivly do that and even get student money!?

Hall doesn't know what to say...he starts to answer, stops, and then looks to Kim, his assistant. She stammers a bit, and then says, "Well, yes, as the policy is written."

I can hardly believe what I'm hearing at this point. I said something to the effect that if people 50 years ago had said the same thing, except in reference to blacks, where would we be today in terms of discrimination against blacks? We're doing the same thing now, and I cannot believe that I'm sitting here listening to the university say they're going to allow discrimination. I also said something to the effect that if we're training to be lawyer, and we're going to claim to be on the forefront of public institutions, we should be ones pushing the envelope.

At this point, Goldberger broke in and started to say that I didn't understand that there were two ways to look at pushing the envelope, and I didn't really understand the issue.
Well, with all due respect sir, I DO understand the issue(s). I'm firmly aware that a First Amendment freedom of religion exists in this country. I'm also highly aware that religous pretexts and Biblical support has been used for thousands of years by those in power to oppress certain peoples, whether it be Southerners who claimed that slavery was ok because it was in the Bible, to people who said that blacks were inferior to whites because that, too, was purportedly in the Bible, to the Spanish inquisition and the Crusades, effected because it was the good Christian's duty to go convert or kill the godless Muslums. Are you, Mr. Hall, willing to stand up in front of the student body of the Ohio State University and say that you accept the argument that blacks can be enslaved because their owners belived, very strongly, that there was a biblical and religious reason for such a situation?? We're not talking a First Amendment issue here, we're talking about a human rights issue, which transcends the First Amendment. So you'll have to excuse the fuck out of me I'm not willing to buy the "they should be able to discriminate because the Bible said so" argument. On a side note: point to me where, EXACTLY, Jesus condemned gay people, and then we can start this debate off on the same footing. Until then, as a Christian (i.e. a follower of Christ's teachings, as opposed to the Jewish power structure responsible for the Old Testament) how can you claim to so adamently against gays when Jesus never saw it as a "problem" that needed to be addressed. But I digress...although only slightly.

Someone asked: What does “best interests of the university” mean?
Hall: organizational allocation issues were coming up…a decision needed to be made.
Another student pressed him further. Hall responded: well, like [Goldberger] said, there are two sides of things.

The student pressed him further: what rights or criterion took precedent? He said basically that student groups with strongly held religious beliefs should be able to hold those beliefs.
Let me just say to this student, you rocked. You didn't get upset, you didn't get agitated, but when he refused to answer your question, you pressed him until he admitted that students' religious beliefs were deemed more important than not discriminating against another group of students. Hmmm...that sounds somewhat...discriminatory. You chose one over the other, bub.

The first student says “we need to put things in place to make sure that we don’t have a hostile environment here at the law school.”

Hall says “I agree, and think you summarized the issue well. We need to stop now.”



There were other portions of the discussion, of which I was largely involved, that I did not get written down, so my specific sequence of events, etc. may be slightly off, but this is the general gist of things.

Some observations:
1. What a chickenshit decision by a university that lost untold amounts of respect in my eyes today. Effectively what the university has said is this: We want to be a national university, we want to be a nationally renowned law school, we wanna play in the same sandbox as the Michigans and UVas of this country, but when the time comes for some heavy lifting to be done, we're going to tuck our tail between our legs and run home like a puppy that's been whupped with the paper one too many times. We turned tail and ran, and while you can spin it all you want, Mr. Hall, the fact of the matter is you made this decision to cover your ass; You claim you didn't know about the CLS suit, or that you didn't know the specifics of it or whatever, but I say bullshit.
2. This is a decision that was made to avoid the tough question of "If not now, then when? If not us, then who? When is the time NOT right to stand up against that which is wrong?" If you want another cliche, Mr. Hall: What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. While this new policy may solve the problem temporarily (which it doesn't, as the suit still exists) and allow the almighty dollars to be shoveled out the door to those student groups clammoring for their $300 (it's nice to now that the going price for allowing discrimination these days is only $300), the policy also essentially moots the non-discrimination policy in the first place. What good is a non-discrim policy that says "you can't discriminate unless you really, really want to, in which case we'll let you." Why bother having that discrimination policy, then? What's to stop myriad other as-applied challenges to this policy, Mr. Hall? All this policy does is push the issue off onto someone else, and let someone else take the heat. Maybe it's time for some people to leave the kitchen...?
3. I'm embarassed today, I'm ashamed to say that I'm a Buckeye, and that pisses me off. Perhaps I was naievely optimistic that people with educations would understand the historical ramifications, both forward-looking and backward-looking, of this particular juncture in history. I guess I was wrong, and that's disappointing as well.
4. Like Law Dork said, this new policy, which says you can't discriminate unless it's very strongly held RELIGIOUS beliefs is rife with potential equal protection issues. I'll let him write more extensively on that (after all, it was his observation), but I agree that if one takes this to the next logical step, what's to stop someone from saying that they want to discriminate based on political beliefs, or strongly held beliefs about any number of societal issues?
5. Today was a very revealing day for me as a lawyer-in-training. Although I felt at times like I was just flailing (like Bush tonight!), others said that I was articulate and well-spoken but passionate (compassionately so?). I guess that's a good thing, that I didn't come across like a raving lunatic. On the other hand, drawing the direct parallel to other civil rights issues and given my history background, it makes me sick to my stomach to stand in the breach, so to speak, as history happens all around me and I feel powerless to stop it. I want to just scream sometimes, and say "These same arguments that people make, about how gays shouldn't be able to do this, or that, or that we should be able to exclude them from X..." are the same freaking arguments made decades ago. Just replace "niggers" with "faggots" and we're right back there again, having to fish Emmit Till (or was it Matthew Sheppard?) out of the river.

Just my opinion, I guess, but at the end of the day, I think Jesus is weeping somewhere, ashamed at what's being done purportedly in his name. He didn't hate, he didn't discriminate (except against the religous hypocrites), and he certainly didn't stand by and accept things as they were just so he didn't rock the boat. Mr. Hall, the boat's not rocking too much, so I'm sure Ms. Holbrooke will give you an attaboy, but from my chair, you and all the others who decided that discrimination was preferable to civil rights, you, sir, get a thumbs down. There is right, and there is wrong, and this time, Ohio State is wrong.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

10:30

All done.
Reactions...but first, there's McCain clapping his hands and playing the house organ for Bush.

Bush's themes: Kerry is weak on terra.
Kerry's themes: Bush is wrong about just about everything.

Tim Whore Russert saying "this is the kind of debate this country needed." Russert saying both candidates were "polished." I would disagree. I thought Kerry carried the ball most of the time, while Bush flailed.

How's this for the expectations game: The common wisdom was that Kerry would be boring, dull, and long winded. He was none of those, so he showed well. Bush looked fidgity, unsure or cocksure, nervous, and smirkey. Kerry looked stately.

The "experts" will probably crow about how "magnificent" Bush was, because he could breath and stand at the same time, but that's a load of crap. He's not the governor of a piddly piss-ant state this time around, and although Bush has improved from four years ago, he's still not in element in debates when he has to think on his feet.

10:26

Closing arguments. Kerry goes first. Dammit.

Says we need to have someone as commander in chief who can get the job done and bring the troops home. "Let me look you in the eye and say I defended this country as a young man, and I'll do it again as President."

"I'm not talking about leaving, I'm talking about winning." Great line.

Basically says "I have a different plan than Bush."
"The future belongs to freedom, not fear."

Bush closing statement: "The world will drift towards tragedy."
"I wanna strengthen homeland security and strengthen the military."
"Fight the terrists overseas so we don't have to do it here at home."

Empty vacuous statements: "I believe in the power of freedom." Yeah, good statement: who doesn't, douchebag?

"We've climbed the mighty mountain, and seen the bountiful valley below." Who did he rip off for that line?

10:21

Question to Bush: What do you think about Putin's anti-democratic actions to fight terror?
Answer: I don't agree with those actions..."I have a good relationship with Vladimurr...and it's important to establish good relationships with people in this world." I don't think I can take any more irony. Also, GEORGE, you're referring to another world leader...Vladimurrr isn't really the proper title.
Bush tries to make this about terra again, when it's a question of government.

Kerry rebuttal: we have to stand up for democracy, and even quotes George Will! Kerry then comes back to North Korea...says "Just because Bush says something doesn't mean it's true...this is the same president who said there were WMD's in Iraq."

Lehrer tries to goad Bush into giving a response...Bush retreats back to "We looked at the same intelligence" line of argument. Kerry: great comeback: Saddam WAS a threat...But THAT WASN'T THE ISSUE!!! The issue is what he DID about it." Good point, George.

10:16

Question to Kerry: What's the biggest threat of the next president?

Answer; Kerry immediately says "nuclear proliferation." Good answer. Then stats to say that Bush has secured LESS nuke material in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before.

Will Bush's water-drinking, and slamming his glass down this year's Al Gore "sighs."

Kerry also talks about how the U.S. is working on new nuclear weapons, and how he would shut them down.

Bush rebuts: We've increased funding for nuke-u-ler proliferation. (hopefully Kerry hammers on that, b/c it's just factually incorrect.) Bush talks about what he's done on nuke proliferation...
Hey, did you know we busted some proliferators?
Now Bush brings in missile defense system, says that's the way to defend us.

Holy shit! Lehreh acknowledged Kerry wanting to rebut!
Bush is on the ropes...Kerry says that the difference is that Bush has had four years, and he hasn't done anything about it.

10:10

A question of "character issues" to Bush: Do you believe there are character issues that make Kerry unfit to be commander in chief?

Ummm...Bush wont' hold it against Kerry that Kerry went to Yale. Ummmm...Right. Because Bush went to...Yale. Ok.

Anyway, now Bush keeps talking about messages to the troops, etc., and we should never change our beliefs.

John...QUIT MAKING NICE GUY!!!! Quit using your rebuttal time to make jokes!
NOW you're talking...it's one thing to be certain, but it's another thing if you're wrong. Bush isn't acknowledging reality.

Bush rebuttal: "We will shift tactics! But I won't change my values because of politics." All Bush can do is try to flail on "flip-flopper."

Kerry responds well to that cut.

10:07

Question to Kerry about Dharfur:

What do we do? Kerry says we need to have more than humanitarian aide. Says we have to have logistical support there (military?). Now Kerry segues into talking about the back-door draft. Bush, meanwhile, keeps drinking his water. Kerry looks good...

If it took U.S. troops to coalesce the African union to stop the genocide.

Bush takes a detour to try to slam Clinton about Iran.
Of course, NOW Bush wants to use sanctions to control the situation! "Daddy! This is HAAAARD! Make John stop, he's kicking my ass!!!"

10:04

Kerry rebutts on the nuke issue: says Bush did nothing about Iran while other countries did, Bush told them to piss off. On North Korea, Kerry is hammering on how we had North Korean under control...

How wonderlandian...Bush is so concerned about having 6 party talks about North Korean nuke issues. Huhhh???

10:02

Bush asked about the North Koreans. Talks a chance to blame Clinton. LADIES AND GENTS, WE HAVE A NUKE-U-LER INCIDENT!!!! Learn how to pronounce it, dumbass.

Work with the world, blah blah blah about nuke-u-ler weapons.
Bush is flailing.

9:59

Kerry asked about preemptive strikes. GREAT story about Sec. of State under JFK during Cuban Missile crisis going to Paris, and de Gaulle saying "if it's good enough for the President of the U.S., it's good enough for me." Can we say that about the world today and the word of the U.S. president?

Bush responds with: "A global test"? You act to make the country more secure, blah blah blah. Bush changes the subject to the international criminal court..."we won't join the court, blah blah blah."

Kerry obviously has a response, but Lehrer ignores him.

9:54

Question to Bush: Are you going to preemptively invade another country?
Bush avoids the question, says "I hope I don't have to." Answer the question, asshole."

"We would rue the day we left Hussein in power."

Bush is repeating himself: "We speak clearly, and let the world know we mean what we say, and not be inconsistent." Then, he tries to claim Libya as a U.S. success.

Kerry rebuttal: Bush said "The enemy attacked us." But Saddam Hussein didn't attack us, bin Laden did. When we had bin Laden pinned down, we didn't use the best trained warriors in the world to go after him, we outsourced that to Afghan warlords.

Also: Bush said Saddam would have been stronger is we hadn't invaded. That's just factually incorrect.

Bush of course has to jump in again and say "Of course I know that bin Laden attacked us!"

Kerry rebuttal: 35-40 countries in the world had more capabilities to make WMDs than Iraq when we invaded. While we were distracted by Iraq, North Korea went nuclear, Darfer genocide is going on, etc...the world isn't safer.

9:51

How many times is Bush going to say "It's hard work." No shit it's hard work...sometimes you might think about that BEFORE you invade!
Bush: I'm just flabbergasted that my opponent would call Pinnochio...errr...I mean Alawi, a puppet.

QUIT LEANING ON THE PODIUM, MONKEYBOY!!!

Kerry rebuttal: the president hasn't shown how he will go about changing things the right way. Alawi himself said that things are going shitty.

Bush again breaks the rules, says "but but but the terrists are pouring in because Iraq is the central front in the war on terra.

Lehrer didn't give Kerry the chance to respond.

9:44

Awww...a touching little homily from Bush about some chick named Missy in North Carolina (Edwards country, convenient, that, eh?) who's husband was sacrificed by Bush.

Kerry rebuttal: "I know what it's like to lose people in combat. But it's vital to not confuse the war with the warriors." Good point.

Kerry says: "We have a choice in Iraq. The President isn't getting the job done. You can use my plan, or you have the President's plan, which is four words: More of the same."

Bush wants to jump in (again). WTF, Jim...are you going to give Bush a reach-around too?

Bush again brings in the "wrong war, wrong time..."

Kerry responds: Pottery store illustration: if you break it, you fix it. If you broke it, obviously you made a mistake. You need to acknowledge it and fix it.

Kerry now talking about how we're building 14 permanent military bases right now...instead we need to change the dynamics on the ground...don't back off from Faluja and give in to terrorists.

"I will make a statement: the U.S. has no long term designs on permanently being in Iraq."

9:38

Kerry dodged using the L word (liar). Good work.
Kerry talking about Bush lying (I'll use the word) to the country in the State of the Union address and other times...meanwhile, Bush is frantically flipping through his notes looking for where Rove put the right answer to this question!!!! Of course, since Faux News Channel is running all the TV cameras, they shifted away from a split screen.

Kerry invokes Reagan!!!

"Osama bin Laden dudn't get to determine how we defend this country." Response by Bush.

Bush isn't able to substantively argue on the issues: all he has to go on is to keep trying to say "But hey, Kerry changed his mind!" Bush is justifying HIS decision by saying "But Kerry saw the intelligence too!"

GOOD FUCKING ANSWER JOHN: I'VE HAD ONE, CONSISTENT POSITION ON HUSSEIN THE WHOLE TIME; HE WAS A DANGER. I just believe there was a right way to go about handling the situation, and a wrong way. I just believe that Bush has consistently chosen the wrong one.

Bush replies: BUT HE'S INCONSISTENT! Not really, but what's your response substantively, dickhead.

9:35

"The plan says there will be elections in January, there will be." Ummm...ok. If you say so. Of course, Rummy says if we only can have elections in SOME parts of the country, that's good.

Bush just sounds whiney..."It's HAAAARRD!" Whaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Kerry rebuttal: says that Bush, even knowing there were no WMD's, no connection to 9/11, no Al-Queda, would still invade.
Kerry can quote numbers of troops on the ground from other countries...8300 British, 4000 Ozzies, everyone else in the hundreds...

Now talking about nuclear weapons, and how Bush allowed other countries of going nuclear.

9:30

John...why the hell are you conceding that you agreed about the imminent threat, blah blah blah?

Great quote: Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 was like FDR invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor.

Now Kerry hammering on Bush pushing away our allies, and bringin in Halliburton.

Bush response: "That's absurd." Ummm...good response, stupid head! I'm rubber and you're glue....asshole.

Bush keeps trying to work in the "wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time" quote...But we AAAARRREEE gonna have a summit! really, really, really, I swear!!!!" Liar.

Kerry rebuttal: U.S., Britain, and Australia aren't a "grand coalition."

Bush response: He forgot Poland!!!!

Good comeback. He looks like a bully, and he acts like a bully...when someone stands up to him, he doesn't know what to do, and flails wildly. I hope this keeps up.

9:26

Is it just my jaded eye, or is Kerry actually landing some body blows? Monkey boy: "They're on there way to a nation that's free." Ummm...ok. Whatever that is.

Kerry: "Help is on the way." Fucking brilliant.
Now talking about meeting some soldiers who said to him "We need you." Good. Nice, and simple.
Using Bush's father against him..."No exit strategy."

Now Kerry talking about the invasion, and how we only protected the oil mininstry on the invasion.
Easy John, easy on the "I was there" references.

WTF! Bush jumps in, breaks the rules, and argues like a kindergardner..."But but but...that's a bad message to send to the commander in chief.

"I made a mistake in how I talk about the war...the President made a mistake in going to war. Which is worse?"

Good rebuttal, John. Don't let Bush break the rules.

9:21

Kerry talking about sending shitloads of money overseas while cutting homeland security funding here vis a vis first responders.
So far, I'm glad to see that Kerry is making this about Bush's record. If I were to use a legal term, it would be res ipsa loquitor. (that's probably misspelled.) But so far, Kerry has just hammered on Bush's record, which is what he needs to do.

Bush response..."it's, like, a HUGE tax gap. But that's another point for another debate." Then, "the best way we can secure the homeland is to always be on the offense." He feels like "we've improved the FBI, blah blah blah..." It feels like Bush is making it up as he goes right now, not his strong suit.
Kerry just got another "extension" and made a good rebuttal point. Bush jumps in and starts talking about "I wake up every day thinking about protecting the 'Merkin people." Chase 'em down...

Hey asshat, don't you mean "Smoke 'em out and kill 'em"?
Bush is struggling...he needs to stay on script, because he can't hang if he goes off script.

9:18

Kerry is talking about Humvees and body armor...leading into talking about casualties. Good point about increasing casualties in each of the last 6 months.

OOOOHHHH - a one minute extension...

Bush is saying "my opponent is saying he voted to authorize force, blah blah blah. What does that message send to our troops, blah blah blah."

The elephant in the room on that is that rumblings from the military are that they're, well, let's say less than enamored with Monkey boy.

9:16

Bush is speaker better than he has in a while. Good delivery, although he needs to stop leaning on the damn podium. However, my big beef with him so far is that every assumption he's speaking clearly about is just flat out wrong. Hopefully Kerry calls him on it.

Nine o'clock and all's well...

Lots o' stuff today to talk about....
Important stuff to write about, but right now the debates are on, so I'll attempt to do a Geidner-esque simul...blog.