Racism

This is rich. The owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, has sued the Washington City Paper for a column he claims defamed him and used anti-Semitic imagery. That’s right, the man who has famously defended his right to name an entire football team after an ethnic slur is playing the ethnic card because a columnist made fun of him.

The kicker is that on top of this amazing execution of rank hypocrisy, Snyder manages to insult all Jews who have actually dealt with anti-Semitism by coming up with an ethnic offense where none existed. The columnist wasn’t making Jewish jokes or playing off of Jewish stereotypes. He was calling Dan Snyder a terrible owner and a shady dude. Saying he was a victim of anti-Semitism degrades the term and make this entire lawsuit look like the petulant reaction of a narcissistic millionaire.

As Dennis Green might say: Daniel Snyder is who we thought he was….

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Two people from my high school got into the same college I did. We were all in the top 10 of our class, but none of us were in the top 5. One was a white guy who was a brilliant piano player. The other was a white girl who excelled at sports. Then there was me. I had the “does lots of activities” application. You know the type of d-bag kid I’m talking about: debate this, mock trial that, sports, school plays, bands.

Also, I’m black. Do you think that might have had something to do with it? I hope it did, since it seems to me that my race is at least as much of a factor in what I may add to an incoming college class as whether I could play the piano or dominate in field hockey.

Of course, saying race can be a factor in college admissions is controversial. A certain segment of the population gets all bent out of sorts when a “deserving” white student potentially gets “passed over” because a college official gave a person of color “extra points” when making up the entering class of students.

I find these arguments totally irrational. If the top five students from my high school were passed over — three Jews and two Asians (you know, the real victims of affirmative action, if there are any) — then who exactly “took” their spots? Me, or the sports chick? And if an Asian guy “takes” my spot, but I bump down the piano player who didn’t score as well as I did, and the piano player takes the spot of some poor Hispanic kid who has never seen a piano in real life, would everybody say that we all got what we deserved?

Coming up with an effective way to balance all of the relevant factors in college admissions is hard. But when race is involved, people don’t want to deal with “hard,” and they don’t want to hear “complicated.” They want simple rules and a few platitudes they can recite on television. After yesterday’s Fifth Circuit decision upholding affirmative action at the University of Texas, the only question is whether the Supreme Court has the will and intellectual rigor to think through something hard, or whether the majority will want to fall back on truisms and clichés…

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Please note the headline says “new” evidence. It does not say “good” or “credible” or “definitive” evidence. That’s because the evidence doesn’t really fall into any of those categories. In fact, the headline could have read “F. Lee Bailey Evades Caretakers, Gets to Internet Before Somebody Stops Him.”

But whatever, former Dream Team (and now disbarred) lawyer F. Lee Bailey says he can tell us things about O.J. Simpson that we didn’t know before, things that make O.J. look innocent. And Bailey says that this evidence was not used during O.J.’s trial because of a strategic mistake by the late Johnnie Cochran. That’s right, if Cochran would have just done what Bailey wanted, O.J. Simpson could have been more acquitted! Or something.

Let’s look at what Bailey has to say. It’s one of those things that makes me happy we have “the internet”…

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The problem of Hoosier lawyers misbehaving is reaching epic proportions. We’ve already told you about Olubunmi Okanlami, the Indiana law grad who allegedly suspected her boyfriend of cheating, attacked him as well as correctional officers, and wore two bras to prison so she could hide a weapon in between.

We’ve already told you about Kirmille Welbon, a deputy prosecutor in Indiana who allegedly attacked the wife of a man she was sleeping with (more on her later). Both of these incidents came to light within the last 30 days.

And now we have another name to add: Daniel C. McCarthy. This guy just got suspended from Indiana Bar for 30 days (without automatic reinstatement) because he can’t even keep it together long enough to write an email…

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I’m not a constitutional scholar, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night. But I really struggle to find the ambiguity in this line from the Fourteenth Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

That statement seems very, very clear to me.

Of course, I’m not an unabashed racist. Maybe if I was I’d be able to be as intellectually dishonest and willfully ignorant as State Legislators for Legal Immigration, and have the gall to argue that this section of the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted for 150 years.

Actually, check that. Even if I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that dirty foreigners were stealing my country, I’d grab a shovel and start digging a moat around this country before I fixed my mouth to argue utter tripe like what we’re hearing from the State Legislators for Legal Immigration.

In a world full of spurious legal arguments, theirs is truly one of the stupidest things you’re ever going to hear…

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Listen, little Johnny police officer, the Taser is not a toy.

As an overweight man, adult onset diabetes is one of the things that makes me consider dropping a few pounds. But I’m still so young, so invincible, that long-term health concerns aren’t really enough to stop me from having an extra helping of Christmas goose (not that I even know anybody who eats a freaking goose like some character in a Dickens novel).

But overaggressive cops beating the crap out of me because of the color of my skin? That is a real threat. That is a “health concern” I respect. I know that, for instance, I should never ever jog with a golf club if I want to avoid police suspicion.

I didn’t think that having diabetes could lead to a police beating. But according to a lawsuit filed by John Harmon against the sheriff’s department in Hamilton County, Ohio, that’s exactly what happened to him. Harmon alleges that the cops kicked the crap out of him because he was driving while having diabetes.

Driving with diabetes while being black, of course…

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Many of you know that the headline is the punchline to an awesome Dave Chappelle joke about black people and chicken. As far as I know, it is the only joke about black people and chicken (fried or otherwise) that is acceptable for white people to retell in 2010 America. I say again, it’s the only joke white people are allowed to make on this subject. (I’ll accept new submissions from African-American comedians — surely Kat Williams has something.) Obviously, if your name is Bill Maher, you are exempt from this rule, but that’s because Maher is pretty much the only white man in America who has figured out how to joke about Obama’s race, and he does so brilliantly.

For all other white people, I think this is a bright-line rule that should be easy to follow. They’re really not that many of them: you can’t make jokes about fried chicken or watermelon, you can’t use the “N”-word, you can’t comment on black women’s hair because you have no freaking idea what you’re dealing with. In exchange, you got a 300-year head start in this country, nobody ever profiles you, and just to be nice we’ll leave you hockey for your own sporting domination. That’s a good deal, right? There are a handful of jokes I can make that you cannot; if you think you’re getting the short end of the stick, call up a single mother living in the Bronx and ask her if she wants to trade.

Really, I didn’t think I had to write down the “no fried chicken jokes” rule. But the law firm of Morgan Hill in Washington State made me realize that sometimes you have to spell things out for people. Every Christmas, they send out their holiday party invitation in the form of a satirical newspaper. The flier contains funny, made-up stories about the big legal news items of the year in Washington.

At least, it’s supposed to be funny. This year, the invitation missed the mark. Badly….

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JoEllen Lyons Dillon

Pennsylvania legal circles are buzzing over a discrimination lawsuit filed yesterday in federal district court by a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Reed Smith. One source who informed us of the suit referred to “some really interesting allegations” against the firm.

A corporate and energy law partner at Reed Smith, JoEllen Lyons Dillon, alleges that her firm pays and promotes women less than men. Yawn; that’s definitely not “really interesting.” While unfortunate — or even outrage-inducing — if true, one could say the same thing about dozens, if not hundreds, of large law firms.

Far more interesting is Dillon’s claim that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of [Reed Smith] management or with whom members of [Reed Smith] management had sought to engage in such relations.” Dillon alleges that because she “did not engage in such relations,” she was professionally penalized.

David DeNinno

Dillon decided instead to have “relations” with her husband, resulting in the birth of twins. After she took time off to take care of the two tots, “her total compensation decreased, by almost half,” according to the complaint. Dillon claims that when she objected to this pay cut, partner David DeNinno, former chair of the Business & Finance Department at RS, asked if she was “done having babies yet.”

That’s just for starters. Dillon claims to have more dirt on her firm….

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The Harvard-Yale Game was this weekend. I didn’t attend. I’m at that uncomfortable age where I’m too old to go to The Game and get black-out drunk at the keg, but too young to show up in a fur coat handing out glasses of Cristal (rhymes with “Mystal”) while my butler grills porterhouse steaks out of the back of my Range Rover.

I look forward to going to The Game in the future, but I’m really glad I didn’t go this year. If I had, I might have been arrested. Seriously, you would have logged on to Above the Law this morning and been entertained by my “Letter From a Boston Jail” or something.

Because if I had gone to The Game, I probably would have gone to the party hosted by the Harvard’s Black Law Student Association (and other affinity groups) at a new Boston club called Cure Lounge. And had I gone to that, when the club owners shut down the party essentially because too many black people were gathering in one place, I would have had major objections and been thrown in jail for “being an angry black person in Boston” (or whatever the hell they are calling it these days).

CORRECTION: According to the Harvard BLSA president, “Harvard BLSA was not involved in organizing or running the party in question…. [T]he event was run by a group that is not affiliated with Harvard BLSA or Harvard Law School. Harvard BLSA did cover the ticket cost of several members who attended the party.”

I wouldn’t have been able to adjust quickly enough to being back in a place like Boston, so I would have gone nuclear when somebody suggested that too many African-American Harvard and Yale students might attract “gang-bangers.”

Was there a lawyer in the line outside the club who could have objected? Actually, it wouldn’t have mattered….

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It seems like such a simple proposition: if a police officer stops you, he has to have a reason. He doesn’t have to have to be right. He doesn’t even need a particularly good reason. He just needs a legitimate reason.

And the reason can’t be based on the color of a person’s skin.

Why is this simple rule so hard for our law enforcement officers to understand? Why do they resist it? Why do they get defensive when civilians ask them to state their legitimate reasons (if any) for pulling somebody over? Why do police act like the motivations of the police are beyond questioning? Why can’t they answer a direct question about their reasons for pulling people over?

The reason can’t be based on the color of a person’s skin.

Why is it so hard for some police officers and administrators to accept that? Why does the Department of Justice need to send threatening letters to the LAPD, reminding them that they have to actually investigate claims of racial profiling and harassment?

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