Greetings from New York Superior Court!

No, I did not achieve my life’s dream and get arrested for mooning Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  I write to you today from the impressive jury room of the courthouse at 60 Centre Street in downtown Manhattan, where I am performing the sacred civic duty of sitting around blogging via the Court’s free wifi.

A few items of note:

Cyndi Lauper has apparently drunk the Obama/DCCC Kool-Aid.  The linked article fails to note the subject line of the referenced email: “Dems just want to have fun!”  Shame, that.  I’ve met her a few times.  I thought she was smarter.

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On Sunday evening I watched some of the Golden Globe Awards at a local bar along with with My Amazing Lover™, one of my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™, and a Fabulous Bartender (public domain).  I have long been a fan of the work of Jodie Foster, who on this occasion received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Outstanding Contributions to blah blah whatever.  Not only did she give a weird and rambling acceptance speech, she brought Mel Gibson as her date.  Yep:  ultraconservative, traditionalist Catholic, racist, homophobe, domestic abuser, anti-Semite, adulterer, repeat drunk driver Mel Fucking Gibson.  Naturally, the two were seated at a table right in front of the stage.  This made for plenty of opportunities for cameras to catch him making bizarre, animated faces.  Of course the Palace does not begrudge anyone their friendships with people who do not share their political, religious and/or social views.  (Ms. Foster is a Democratic supporter, an atheist and openly gay.)  Regardless, it is exceedingly difficult to let her off the hook for her part in validating the acceptability of Gibson’s noxious views, even if it is widely recognized that she does not share them.  Jodie Foster is a tremendously talented actress and filmmaker.  But our estimation of her as a human being has plummeted spectacularly.

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This piece in The Guardian [h/t Mr. Born] should give all decent human beings pause (if not apoplexy):

Study finds widespread ‘criminalisation of pregnancy’ in US institutions

Study cites misinterpretation of Roe v Wade in array of cases where women were denied rights based on pregnancy status.

Hundreds of women have been arrested, convicted, jailed, detained in mental institutions or forced to endure medical procedures as a result of the “criminalisation of pregnancy” over the last four decades, a new report has found.

The report, which will appear in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, found that women were denied a wide range of basic human rights, including the right to life, liberty, equal protection and due process of law “based solely on their pregnancy status”.

It found a wide range of cases in which pregnant women were arrested and detained not only if they ended a pregnancy or expressed an intention to end a pregnancy, but also after suffering unintentional pregnancy loss.

The cases of detention and forced medical intervention varied widely and included one in which a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her having an abortion.

I have written about Bei Bei Shuai and others in her predicament before.  The Guardian piece is calm and reserved in tone — which is fine, but it fails to point to some of the more egregious examples of “fetal personhood” laws, and more importantly the inhumane and deadly consequences of the mindset behind them.  A woman denied chemotherapy for leukemia because she was pregnant.  A woman dead from a miscarriage-induced septicemia because she was denied an abortion.  A woman dead from a forced C-section she did not want: instead of treating her cancer doctors inserted a feeding tube and doped her up with sedatives in an effort to delay her death and increase her fetus’ chance of continued development.  The fetus died two hours after the C-section.  The woman died two days later.

This shit is just getting worse and worse, not better.  In case it’s unclear to any reader, I just want to go on record here and say this:  I am not an incubator.  For additional support for my totally bizarre opinion that I am not, in fact, an incubator, see my post here.  An excerpt:

This brings me to the mother of all abortion analogies (ironic pun very much intended).  In no other situation does anyone ever argue that it is right to make use of another living human’s body against their will.  None.  Hell, we do not even make use of dead human bodies against their previously expressed wishes: we don’t harvest the organs the dead no longer need in order to save other peoples’ lives.  We don’t strap people down and strip their bone marrow to save cancer patients.  We don’t forcibly take a kidney from anybody—not even prisoners on death row—and kidneys are desperately needed.  We don’t extract life-saving blood from anyone who does not volunteer to donate it.  To do any of these things would be abhorrent, even though people are dying every day because we don’t.  This human right to be free from such personal violence and coercion is so basic that everyone understands it, intuitively and viscerally.

Except in the case of pregnancy.  Only in this instance—pregnancy—is it somehow perfectly all right for some other entity to make use of another living human being’s body against her will.

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Hypochondria: An Inside Look is a hilarious piece of writing by Woody Allen in the Op-Ed section of Sunday’s New York Times. [h/t don ardell]

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I have been following intently the news about Aaron Swartz, a brilliant, 26 year old Internet freedom activist who committed suicide last week.  He was a genius who co-created the RSS feed, and Reddit; he suffered from depression; he was hounded by federal prosecutors threatening him with a 35+ year prison term for downloading academic journal articles based on publicly funded research.  I empathize profoundly with both the depression struggles and activist instincts of Aaron Swartz.  Unfortunately, many such scholarly journal articles reside behind expensive paywalls, and are therefore available only to those who (a) have excess funds, and/or (b) attend universities or work at private corporations that have institutional subscriptions.  Aaron’s belief (and intent) was that the public should have free, unfettered access to such information:  we paid for this research.

For a fact-based, credible report and informed analysis (including a copy of the federal indictment) see here.

For a eulogy from a bereaved friend, see here.  Also here.

For an eye-opening list of ten federal crimes with lesser sentences than Aaron Swartz was facing, see here.

Our society should be selecting for the Aaron Swartz’s of this world. Instead, generous and ethical behavior, especially when combined with technical brilliance, turns out to be maladaptive, indeed lethal. If Swartz had been Wall Street’s youngest investment banker, he would be alive today. -Blogger Lambert Strether

The world has lost a truly remarkable young person.

AaronSwartzAaron Swartz at a Boston Wikipedia Meetup in 2009. Photo: Sage Ross (Flickr: Boston Wiki Meetup), via Wikimedia Commons.

R.I.P.

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