Bits and Pieces

An SMU law grad has decided to sue the Supreme Court over abortion — and he’s asking for 7.5 trillion dollars. Seems reasonable. He also requested that police not interfere in his planned use of deadly force against abortion providers, since he is only defending his deeply-held religious belief that abortion is murder. Predictably, he has been arrested.

Collateral Murder: Very disturbing video imagery of U.S. soldiers killing civilians — something the military has tried to cover up.

In an article about basketball player Brittney Griner, she is described as androgynous, not “model-pretty,” and manly — because she’s tall. Also, she’s a female athlete, and the whole article is about how she’s re-defining female beauty. Because that’s what athletes set out to do, of course. They aren’t there to, you know, excel in their sport or anything. I wonder when she’ll be pulled to start pitching some sort of pink Just For Women sports-ish gear?

Oh Jesus: Christians and Jews try to make yoga part of their own spiritual quest.

The New York Times on one of my biggest exercise-advice peeves: The idea that women don’t want to “bulk up,” and so we should do a million repetitions with fairly light weights. False! Lift heavy, ladies.

Malcolm McLaren is dead.

Best photo caption ever.

You know your state has crappy laws when a SWORD ATTACK is not enough to be granted a divorce.

Also in New York, an engagement ring is basically a deposit on a wife.

MIA v. Lady Gaga.

A district attorney in Wisconsin threatens to press criminal charges against sex ed instructors, for contributing to the delinquency of minors. Apparently there is not enough real crime in Wisconsin to keep him occupied. Perhaps he should save us all some taxpayer money and resign.

The owner of that mine that collapsed and tragically killed a lot of people? Cut major corners. Also was a major contributor to the GOP and anti-choice organizations.

A must-read on the Obama administration and economic growth.

This video is awesome and you should probably watch it.

37 comments for “Bits and Pieces

  1. April 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    It seems like at times many of us will have a temptation to superimpose our own wants and platforms onto those in the public eye, but in the situation of the woman basketball player who isn’t “classically beautiful”, whatever that means, I really don’t like it when the media makes overreaching assumptions based on no hard evidence.

  2. Lance
    April 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I always open asking for 7.5 trillion dollars. Even if you only settle for half of what you asked for, that’s still 1.25 trillion in contingency fees. It hasn’t worked so far, but it only has to once.

  3. DAS
    April 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Also, she’s a female athlete, and the whole article is about how she’s re-defining female beauty. Because that’s what athletes set out to do, of course. They aren’t there to, you know, excel in their sport or anything.

    This transcends athletics — it seems nowadays all that is important is physical attractiveness. Does everything, or even every form of famousness and celebrity, really have to be about looks?

    That being said, many people do watch sports for how the players look: top-flight athletes tend to be young and in great physical shape which one would certainly imagine would correlate to attractiveness. And indeed athletes tend to be very attractive people.

    To put it another way, Brittney Griner is not “model-pretty” so she is the one redefining standards of attractiveness? To some degree it’s the other way around, isn’t it? The idea that a too-thin model is “pretty” and someone in top physical shape is “not pretty” is what is redefining standards of attractiveness.

  4. ACG
    April 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Hey, I think it means a lot that as a culture we’re starting to appreciate a different kind of beauty in female athletes. For instance, consider the “Amazonian” Williams sisters. I’d say we’re only a few years away from calling them “goddesses” like the white tennis players.

  5. Em
    April 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    On, which is hosting that ‘Anti-Abortion Warrior’ piece, they have an advertisement at the top of the page for the article with the title under a picture of a coat-hanger.

    I can’t help but be disturbed by it, as the whole ‘abortion=coat-hanger’ thing is something I feel like I see too much of. I feel like it’s terribly misleading, but maybe I’m reading too much into it? I’m not really sure how to feel about it, actually!

  6. Lance
    April 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Em, great post, I noticed that too. I would note, though, that abortion = coat hanger is primarily if not exclusively used by pro-choicers to point out the consequences of overturning Roe– Canadian abortions for the rich, probably some sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge drug for the middle class, and coat hanger abortions for the poor. I don’t think the intent is ever to say that’s what abortion is about now. I definitely see where you’re coming from though.

  7. Em
    April 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Ah, okay thanks! That makes me feel better then.

  8. April 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I have a friend whose fiancee has just finished med school and is about to start a residency that qualifies him for housing subsidized by the hospital. In order for them to live together, the hospital requires not certification of their intention to marry but rather documentation of the engagement ring.

  9. Lance
    April 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    No problem Em.

    Matt– That’s incredible! One wonders if a $20 engagement ring from Wal-Mart would satisfy them, or if there’s also a price minimum. For that matter, what’s to stop somebody from borrowing a ring from a friend (or using a plain old diamond ring) and claiming it’s an engagement ring passed down from dear old mom? That’s an awesome blend of stupid and ineffective.

  10. Kate
    April 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Matt, that completely blows my mind as does the story about the judge in NY. I was unfortunately in an engagement that fell apart, and trying to do “the right thing”, I gave back the ring AND let him keep the Burberry watch I had bought him as his engagement gift. After over a year of reflection and healing from what I now realize was an abusive relationship, I wish I had kept them both. I live across the street from a pawn shop :) I suppose that nothing should surprise me anymore though after reading the story of the judge who officiated the marriage of a domestic violence suspect to his victim so that she could invoke her right not to testify against her husband.

  11. April 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Lance, it is incredible. She said they asked for a receipt, so I don’t know whether a cheaper ring would work or not. Who knows what would happen if the ring had been handed down. Fiancee, b/t/w, should be fiance.

  12. PrettyAmiable
    April 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I LOLed at Dedman School of Law. It seems coincidental that someone is threating to kill someone when they graduated from Dedman. Sorry, corny.

    Jill, can you (or any of the other lawyers that post here) attest to the website hosting that article? I read through some of the comments and was a little disturbed. (Yeah, my mistake for reading the comments).

  13. Lance
    April 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    PrettyAmiable– I’m one of the lawyers that posts here and it’s a legal tabloid; the go-to source for legal gossip (which, these days, means who’s cutting salary and laying people off). It has a generally liberal bent, but the editors also indulge in misogynistic jokes and frequently run random cheesecake photos with their articles. The commentors are garden variety internet assholes, as is inevitable when you have light moderation and your target audience has an abundance of people who didn’t get enough hugs as a kid.

    Matt– Awesome. I’m somewhat surprised that they even had the receipt. Pity the poor guy who threw it out once his sweetie said yes…

  14. Holy!
    April 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    “Hey, I think it means a lot that as a culture we’re starting to appreciate a different kind of beauty in female athletes. For instance, consider the “Amazonian” Williams sisters. I’d say we’re only a few years away from calling them “goddesses” like the white tennis players.”

    I don’t know about that; horrible things are said about the Williams Sisters on a variety of sports related blogs. However, it’d be nice to see more female basketball players and other women appreciated for their beauty and talent too. I’m sure there other guys out there like myself who appreciate the beauty of taller and more muscular women.

  15. Lurkin Merkin
    April 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    <3 MIA

  16. April 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I’m not a doctor, but I strongly suspect that the man who threatened the abortion clinic is mentally ill. Something about the completeness of his delusion made me feel more sorry for him than appalled by him.

  17. Katie
    April 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I don’t feel exactly the same way about the Christian/Jewish yoga appropriation. Yoga IS part of a spiritual practice for tons of people, and having it appropriated into another faith makes a weird kind of sense – yes, it’s offensive, but still makes me less mad than all the annoying USians with their $150 Ganesh or Buddha t-shirts, ending their classes with “namaste” and considering it a form of exercise with the added cultural appropriation kick.

  18. April 9, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Robert H. and Nancy McMillan Dedman donated a shitpile of money to all kinds of things in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area and have their last name all over this city. Along with the law school and the humanities college at Southern Methodist University there’s a hospital network.

    Yeah the pun’s there.

    Could we all fuck off with the speculation about Mr Lo’s mental health please? Even if someone here were a psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist, none of you are actually treating Mr Lo — and if you were you’d be violating patient confidentiality, professional ethics, and if you practised in the US, federal law, if you said anything about it. Since nobody is in a position to speak about it with any more authority than a wild-ass guess all you can do is work off the false perception that mentally ill people are violent in greater proportion than the general population and help reinforce that false perception.

    Which we need like we needed Silence of the Lambs. So please just don’t. ‘kay?

  19. Haley K
    April 9, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Ok, following the line of reasoning that an engagement ring is purchased by a man and given to a woman as a promise of marriage, a deposit on her to reserve her, then when you break the terms of agreement and do not follow through with laying claim on said woman, then you do not get the deposit back. That’s how it works when you put a deposit down on a piece of property. If I pay a holding fee on my apartment to keep it over the summer before I move in, and then choose not to move in, I don’t get my money back.

    Naturally, the entire argument fails when you realize women aren’t property.

    But, but, if men buy an expensive engagement ring, then the mean bitch can just break off the relationship and run away with the jewels. The ring isn’t a present, it’s still the man’s property, a sort of territory marker. If it weren’t for this decision, bitches would be luring men to propose so they can steal the ring all the time.

  20. Henry
    April 9, 2010 at 1:28 am

    I agree with the premise that the ring needs to die out – it’s a huge burden on men to have to go out and fork over at least 4K+ for a stone – and I still get comments about it being “small” from the peanut gallery at work (I hope they are referring to the stone and not my **** given their mentality). In our area we are an oddity having opted for a smaller stone and using the savings for a house instead…

    As to the linked article – I have a few issues with it – engagement rings are subject to contract law (at least when I learned it) I hope the judge did not use the word “property” in the decision in reference to the fiance – the article it makes it sound like he did – I hope the journalist was correct and not trying to slant the audience into thinking our court system treats people as chattel. Under current law marriages are viewed as contracts, and anything given in expectation of that contract being finalized should be returnable under current law when the contract is not finalized. It should then apply to all the stuff the other fiance did too…the cost of the wedding dress for example, maybe she bought furniture for the house they planned…the list goes on. (I doubt anyone would argue you can reuse the dress for example with fiance no. 2). I have a better idea, instead of suing each other, why not sit down and figure out how much they each spent on the whole engagement and divide the cost evenly. – or we could just stop buying silly stones and use the money for something useful – like say a future together. I think the proper result would be to set off the 19K ring against damages suffered by the ring-reciever (e.g. the time and expense spent planning the wedding, typically born heavily by the bride’s family in traditional cases). The guy’s a jerk for cheating, but not relevant if we are to progress to a no-fault model for sorting out relationship breakups not involving crimes.

  21. Henry
    April 9, 2010 at 1:38 am

    sword attack ruling – lovely – just read that one after I defended our court system…can’t wait for this decision to be cited against battered women trying to get a divorce – what he only pointed the weapon at you and chased you around the house, but never actually made contact? I mean really it’s just a sword and the man-crybaby should not be afraid of his wife skewering him. It’s got to be coming from a false viewpoint of women as “weak” and “nonthreatening” on the judge’s part.

  22. mk
    April 9, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Ugh. That Times article is so full of FAIL. One paragraph really jumped out at me:

    “Brittney Griner is such an athlete, and so gifted, you almost don’t notice that she is part of a slowly unfolding, civilized response in this country to the slightly androgynous female,” said Terry Castle, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University and a passionate fan of women’s basketball. “She calls our attention to the unnecessary rigidity of sex roles and makes a number of feminist points along the way.”

    Okay, first of all, “civilized response”? Is this Castle person shitting me? What’s “civilized” about the response to Caster Semeyana’s successes, or calling someone a “slightly gender-ambiguous athlete who reads either as a pretty hot boy or a trans-girl [sic]”?

    I happened to watch the Final Four game with my mom, who at one point turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, but she looks and sounds like a guy.” My immediate response was, “Well, she’s a really great basketball player.”

    Shit like this burns. I “look and sound like a guy.” I can’t dunk and I’m not on a nationally-ranked women’s basketball team, so I don’t have national pundits questioning my gender–just random strangers on the street.

  23. Q Grrl
    April 9, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Yeah, maybe that journalist should follow Griner around for a week, specifically when it is necessary to use a public restroom. Let’s count the civilized responses then. And really, how is Griner any different than *any* of the female/women b-ball players of the last twenty years? Oh. Wait. She’s not. It’s the fucked up media riding the shirt tails of Semeyana and Johnny Weir. This isn’t civility. This is sharks circling — the sharks that offer up a convenient “other” category of beauty standards that *even* the gender non-conforming can conform to! How special. And what about those that aren’t so specifically talented with their bodies? How we gonna normalize the fuck outta them?

    What about those of us who are incapable of passing as anything other than human?

  24. makomk
    April 9, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Henry: I’m not sure this argument would be quite so effective if used against battered women. It relied on the judge being convinced that the plaintiff was actually in danger, and the rather pervasive idea that women are never a danger to their male partners probably helped a lot. (Comes from the idea that women are naturally weak and peaceful and men are naturally strong and aggressive, I guess.)

    Not sure if this happens in the Feministe comments, but over at Feministing pretty much every mention of the possibility of female domestic violence against men results in at least one of the male regulars claiming that such a thing is irrelevant, that there’s no way a woman could harm a man.

    It’s also worth noting that he probably wouldn’t have had a great chance of getting help from the police either. New York’s primary aggressor law isn’t too bad (it lacks many of the obviously gendered aspects that some states’ laws have) but it still gives the police officers a lot of scope for injecting their own gender-driven assumptions. (Then there’s the question of training.)

  25. makomk
    April 9, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Sorry, that should be “convinced that the plaintiff was never actually in danger”…

  26. Lucy
    April 9, 2010 at 10:29 am

    The trend for madly expensive rings is ridiculous. We just got engaged, and my ring is the most beautiful one in the shop and it cost £100. Anything more than that would just make me nervous all the time that I was going to lose it.

  27. April 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Under current law marriages are viewed as contracts, and anything given in expectation of that contract being finalized should be returnable under current law when the contract is not finalized.

    As Haley K said, that’s not true for other kinds of contracts, including real estate contracts. (Also, I appreciate the attempt to make it gender-equal, but you’re assuming that a lot of stuff happens without a significant lapse in time after the proposal.)

    Re: sword attack – I can absolutely see it being used against women in domestic violence cases. You can’t imagine a judge deciding “she was never in real danger, he was just trying to intimidate her”?

  28. ShelbyWoo
    April 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    However, it’d be nice to see more female basketball players and other women appreciated for their beauty and talent too. I’m sure there other guys out there like myself who appreciate the beauty of taller and more muscular women.

    It would be nice to see ALL female athletes and women appreciated for their talent only. What does their perceived attractiveness (which is completely subjective) have to do with anything? And, women, even the tall and more muscular ones, don’t exist for men to appreciate us, thank you.

  29. Atheistchick
    April 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    @ kaninchenzero, thanks for bringing that up. There is definitely a stigma attached to people who have mental illness, and part of that stigma is that they are violent or aggressive. While I, too, admit that my first thought was that he was having a delusion, I think it is good of you to remind us that that is stereotyping, and therefore is as uncool as other forms of stereotyping (gender, race, religion…).

    That being said, it doesn’t matter to me if he has a mental illness or not, he’s being a jerk. A really scary, though fortunately not too bright, jerk.

  30. La BellaDonna
    April 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    @Henry: I would LOVE for the judge to have had the experience of someone charging at HIM with an extended sword blade (your choice of culture). That might have been enlightening for him.

    People with edged weapons can move really, REALLY fast and do an awful lot of damage. The choice for the battered husband in that case could easily have been either “not a scratch” (because she didn’t have a chance to actually reach him) and “dead” (because she did).

    And a sword – just like a knife, just like a gun, just like a CAR – doesn’t care about the gender of the person wielding it, or the person against whom it is wielded.

    The fact that the plaintiff got his divorce (on grounds of abandonment) did NOT mean “no harm, no foul”, IMO. The judge wouldn’t grant it on grounds of cruelty despite the plaintiff’s adult daughter being an EYEWITNESS to the treatment he received.

    Justice for one gender, justice for ALL genders: that means OTHER people with eyewitnesses to their cruelty suits can _also_ have those cases dismissed as having insufficient evidence. The judge didn’t believe based, apparently, on defendant’s “vehement denial”. Because, of course, she’d ADMIT to that kind of attack if it were true; people who dish out cruelty to their partners on a regular basis are KNOWN for that kind of honesty, in fact.


  31. Zes
    April 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Re the “oh Jesus” comment you made on Jews and Christians co-opting yoga…

    Don’t you mean, “oy Jesus”?


  32. Henry
    April 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    the “can’t wait for this decision to be cited against battered women trying to get a divorce” was sarcasm directed at the court decision – I do not actually want such a horrid decision to be used against battered women…and yes I can actually see a judge buying the argument – after all one just enthusiastically officated a wedding between an abuser and his victim. (you can’t by law stop people from getting married, but that does not mean you support it from the bench and dismiss charges on top of it)

    And for mamokm – I don’t buy your generalization about the posters here. What his wife did was a crime – she tried to stab him with a sword, his daughter prevented it. It’s an assualt for crying out loud – and he can’t get a divorce based on an assault? If she had tried to poison him (classic gender stereotype passive-aggressive) I bet the divorce would have been granted on those grounds – afterall how can he eat all the food she is “supposed” to make for him during their marital bliss (sarcasm) when it’s potentially deadly? The decision will be read gender-nuetral in the future which is why having precedent like this is dangerous to everyone – esp. battered women who make up the majority of battering cases.

  33. Rachel S.
    April 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    You can’t “co-opt” yoga. It’s a practice that benefits everyone who does it regardless of their spiritual affiliation. If someone wants to practice yoga while listening to Christian music, they should because that’s what makes them comfortable. Yoga isn’t about India, it’s not about Hinduism, it’s not about the place or the person teaching it. Yoga is about being mindful of your body and your spirit and their connectedness. More people should find ways to get passed their individual squicking points and practice yoga themselves.

  34. Athenia
    April 11, 2010 at 11:06 am


    I just started practicing yoga and I freakin’ love it. It’s like all the best part of mass—the singing and the mediation with the added bonus of exercise!

    At the place I go to, they are very clear that all religions are welcome. And I can see how other religions would like to incorporate their own chants into the practice–I personally don’t see anything wrong with this since in the original practice your goal is peace and light for the universe. As long as that’s the goal of the chants, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  35. April 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Just so you know: “Yoga can’t be coöpted” only means “what those funny-sounding brown people do isn’t really religion.” Yoga isn’t an exercise programme; it’s a way to align body and mind and spirit in accordance with Ayurvedic concepts of physical and mental and spiritual health. Clearly yoga can be separated from Ayurveda and Hindu — it has been and very profitably for those doing the separating — but that separation is very much a coöption of religious tradition and practise. It’s just, y’know, not religion with Jesus in so yeah a bit hard to recognise for some people.

    I know this kinda harshes squee for those who do yoga and want to believe it isn’t exploitive but them is the breaks.

  36. makomk
    April 12, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Rebecca: only if the judge was both a spectacularly mysogynistic asshole and willing to be seen as such. Which isn’t exactly unheard of, but is a bigger hurdle to get past.

    Henry: well yeah, the court would be more likely to buy it if she’d poisoned him. After all, poison is a weapon that’s expected to be effective even when a “weak” woman uses it (in fact, isn’t there some idea that poisoning is a “woman’s weapon” that real men don’t use?)

    Also, generalization about the posters here? More of a generalization on the direction comment threads at Feministing take: not all the commenters do is, but enough do.

  37. April 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I spoke with my friend again, and she clarified a bit about the situation. Apparently, the hospital’s policy only allows married couples to cohabitate, but certain exceptions are made. As she understands it, there are no guidelines for situations other than marriage, so the guy administering the housing program asked for a receipt for the ring out of a lack of creativity. Still, a bit strange and insulting, but it’s not, at least, their official policy.

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