Cases of Racist Discrimination

September 5th, 2020

As I’ve written elsewhere, I found an 1895 case in Aspen, Colorado, involving a man accused of violating the state’s anti-discrimination law.

In his book on Frederick Douglass (p. 39), Timothy Sandefur discusses how Douglass would be refused service and that his fellow white Abolitionists also would decline to use the service. One time, when Douglass “refused to yield his seat on the train to a white man, a mob tore the bench on which he was sitting from the floor of the car,” Sandefur writes.

Later (p. 75), Sandefur notes that Douglass was concerned with private discrimination, such as “the boycotting of black businesses by white customers” and the practice of some labor unions of “admitting only white members as a means of limiting competition for jobs.” And “black entrepreneurs were often excluded from access to capital.” (And of course government discriminated in various ways too.)

Sandefur also discusses (starting on p. 78) the 1875 national Civil Rights Act promoted by Charles Sumner. “It prohibited discrimination in hotels, theaters, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation,” Sandefur summarizes. Douglass argued that a person “has the right to walk, ride, and be accommodated with food and shelter in a public conveyance or hotel.” But the Supreme Court gutted the act with its Civil Rights Cases of 1883. Wikipedia summarizes, “The decision has never been overturned, but in the 1965 case of Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, the Supreme Court held that Congress could prohibit racial discrimination by private actors under the Commerce Clause.” In 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson established the “separate but equal” doctrine (which pertained to government policy). While I’m mentioning infamous Supreme Court cases: In 1857 the court under Roger Taney ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that Black people do not have U.S. citizenship.

Sandefur (p. 86) writes: “Douglass and Wells might break up segregation in a Chicago eatery, but an ordinary farmer who tried to do the same in any rural Mississippi coffee shop might very well be murdered.” (Douglass once took wells to a “whites only” restaurant for lunch.)

Cases of Jury Nullification

September 4th, 2020

We can find cases of jury nullification that helped achieve justice and that thwarted justice. Here are two cases of the latter.

As I’ve written elsewhere, I found an 1895 case in Aspen, Colorado, involving a man accused of violating the state’s anti-discrimination law. He was pretty obviously guilty, but a jury let him off. However, I have not tracked down additional details about the case. I don’t know, for example, what the criminal penalty was. My general sense is that anti-discrimination laws should at most involve corrective orders and perhaps financial penalties.

In his biography, Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man, Timothy Sandefur gives another example. Sandefur describes “some sensational conflicts over slavery in Baltimore, sparked by the vanguard abolitionist Benjamin Lundy and his protege, William Lloyd Garrison. Lundy had been publishing his weekly Genius of Universal Emancipation since arriving in the city in 1825. The following Spring, an infamous slave trader named Austin Woolfolk beat Lundy nearly to death on a Baltimore street after he denounced Woolfolk in the Genius as a ‘monster in human shape,’ and an ‘adamantine creature.’ The slave dealer was convicted of attempted murder, but the jury imposed a fine of only $1.”

Modern Conspiracy Theories

September 3rd, 2020

Trish Zornio has out an op-ed on conspiracy mongering in Colorado; she focuses on Lauren Boebert and Randy Corporon.

The AP has a story about Boebert (a Colorado congressional candidate). Here’s the key troublesome remark, which she made in a live interview: “Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values.”

Arguably Boebert also “gave a wink and a nod” to a QAnon conspiracy theory about Tom Hanks, says Kyle Clark of 9News. Boebert Tweeted, “Joe Biden is doing a fundraiser with newly minted Greek Citizen Tom Hanks tomorrow. I just. . . no comment.” According to Clark, “Some QAnon followers believe that Hanks’s duel citizenship in Greece is an attempt to escape child-abuses charges, pedophilia charges.” He continues, “Tom Hanks actually received his honorary Greek citizenship for his humanitarian work on behalf of Greek wildfire victims in 2018.” USA Today has more background about this.

The FBI very reasonably counts QAnon as a terror threat.

9News reported August 14, “A Douglas County judge has ruled there’s enough evidence to proceed with the case against a woman accused of plotting a “raid” to kidnap her son from foster care with aid from members of the far-right conspiracy group QAnon.”

CNN’s article about Colorado attorney and political activist Randy Corporon is titled, “Top Colorado RNC official spread conspiracy theories and made Islamophobic and sexist comments.” The Colorado Times Recorder published Corporon’s reply, but his remarks were not very substantive.

Civiqs ran a poll, “”Do you believe that the QAnon theory about a conspiracy among deep state elites is true?” The results: “Fully 33% of Republicans say it is mostly true. 23% think some parts are true. Only 13% say it’s not true at all. In contrast, 72% of Democrats say the QAnon theory isn’t true. Only 14% of Americans have never heard of QAnon.” However, the wording is not very specific. Lots of people who don’t follow QAnon are worried about a “deep state.” “The federal government employs nearly 9.1 million workers”—that seems pretty “deep” to me (whether it’s a problem is another matter). I’m pretty sure that if the pollsters had used Kyle Clark’s more-specific language—”this is the conspiracy theory that President Trump is about to round up and execute his opponents for pedophilia and drinking baby blood”—the results would have been rather different. Still, the results are alarming.

COVID-19 Updates

September 3rd, 2020

I haven’t posted updates about COVID-19 for a while. This is by no means intended as anything like a comprehensive run-down.

Apparently Colorado businesses are not required to notify customers if the business suffers a COVID-19 outbreak. Moreover, “contact tracing efforts rarely extend to customers.” What a disaster.

Tyler Cowen writes, “The FDA has been too risk-averse in the very recent past, for instance in its reluctance to approve additional Covid-19 testing. Economists have generally concluded that the FDA is too risk-averse in the long term as well, considering all relevant trade-offs.” Cowen argues that vaccine approval is inherently political and that people who want to advocate for delays in a vaccine need to offer better arguments.

Atul Gawande discusses how to ramp up testing: “To get out of this pandemic, we need fast, easy coronavirus testing that’s accessible to everyone. . . . We could have the testing capacity we need within weeks. The reason we don’t is not simply that our national leadership is unfit but also that our health-care system is dysfunctional.” He puts much of the blame on the CDC and FDA (as do others).

Steroids cut deaths.

The Chaos President: Sources on Donald Trump

September 3rd, 2020

Conspiracy Theories

In August Trump explicitly praised QAnon while pretending to be ignorant about its aims and beliefs, despite the FBI declaring QAnon a terror threat.

Trump amplified, and notably declined to condemn, the “birther” conspiracy theory about Kamala Harris, which claims she’s ineligible to serve as president.

Trump recently claimed that people in “dark shadows” were controlling Joe Biden and that a plane full of “thugs” wearing “black uniforms” was flying into Washington DC.

The Election

What if early results in swing states on Nov. 3 show President Trump ahead, and he declares victory before heavily Democratic mail-in votes, which he has falsely linked with fraud, are fully counted?”

Trump arguably advocated voter fraud September 2. As NBC summarizes, “Trump encourages North Carolina residents to vote twice to test mail-in system.”

Promoting Violence

Trump defended right-wingers who assaulted leftist protesters by shooting them with paintballs. He also defended the person who killed two people (and injured another) in Kenosha. (Even if an element of self-defense was involved in those shootings—I’m not sure about that—the shooter had no business being in the area, acted wildly irresponsibly, and violated gun laws.)

Defamation of Military Heroes

Here’s the headline for Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article: “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.'” Trump also said “nobody wants to see” amputees in military parades. That Trump is commander in chief of the U.S. military is absolutely shameful.

The Eviction Moratorium

As Ilya Somin summarizes, “Trump’s eviction moratorium is illegal, a threat to federalism and separation of powers, a menace to property rights, and unnecessary.” Here’s his article.

Cases of Discrimination

September 1st, 2020

In my new column for Complete Colorado, I discuss an 1895 case of clearly-wrong racist discrimination and modern cases of possibly benign discrimination (“people of color only,” “ladies’ night”).

In other news, “52 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners are suing over discriminatory practices.”

Allegedly Racist Content in Acellus Educational Materials

August 30th, 2020

On August 23, 2020, the principal of Aliamanu Elementary School announced the school no longer would use Acellus educational materials because of their “racist content.”

Hawaii News Now ran a story about this and included various images allegedly from Accelus.

The Chico Enterprise-Record also has a story, as does the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

Change.org has been trying to get Acellus removed from public schools.

Various people have criticized Acellus founder Roger Billings.

Accelus claims on its web site (as of right now) that 4,200 public schools use their courses.

Farrar Williams doesn’t like the program for other reasons.

September 14: Fast Company has an article about the Acellus mess.

Libertarians and Discrimination Law

August 30th, 2020

As of right now, following is the Libertarian Party’s official position on discrimination law:

“Libertarians embrace the concept that all people are born with certain inherent rights. We reject the idea that a natural right can ever impose an obligation upon others to fulfill that ‘right.’ We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation. Members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate, and individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts, and other free market solutions.”

In other words, the LP wants to repeal anti-discrimination laws as they apply to private parties.

Debates on Founding Principles

August 30th, 2020

C. Bradley Thompson replies to Christopher Flannery regarding America’s Lockean Founding. (Trace back the links for other articles related to the discussion.) Thompson argues that neither Harry Jaffa nor Leo Strauss got Locke totally right.

Thompson also appeared on Dave Rubin’s show to discuss his book on the Founding and the issue of slavery.

Thompson also discussed his book at a Princeton talk.

In response to a government report ordered by Mike Pompeo and to debate that generated, Roger Pilon and Aaron Rhodes discuss, “The American Understanding of Natural Rights.”

QAnon Crazy

August 30th, 2020

QAnon is a nuclear explosion of disinformation. . . . The very premise of QAnon is that anyone in charge is not just lying to you, but they’re doing it to help Satan himself in exchange for baby blood.”

Violence in America

August 30th, 2020

I included many instances of recent violence in a recent article.

Jason Brennan has out a good critique of rioting and looting that harms property of innocent people.

American Racism

August 1st, 2020

Anyone who doubts that racism remains a problem in America should watch video taken of a man holding a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison, Arkansas, and the racist hate this provoked.

The Trouble with Malkin

August 1st, 2020

Colorado conservative activist and writer Michelle Malkin recently made the news for getting chased out of a pro-police rally in Denver. I wrote about this myself.

The background issue is that Malkin has expressed support for a alt-right figures.

Erik Maulbetsch offers his take from the left. Conservative consultant Andrew Struttmann wrote, “Conservatives have moral duty to disown Michelle Malkin, Alt-Right.” District Attorney George Brauchler had her on his radio show.

Malkin replied to some of her critics in a video.

Media about Lauren Boebert

July 27th, 2020

Lauren Boebert beat Representative Scott Tipton in the Republican primary. Following are some news stories about her. I also provide additional background, with various links, in a Tweet thread. Donald Trump congratulated Boebert.

Boebert’s Campaign Embraces Far-Right Militia Movement”

Boebert embraced a conspiracy theory that Democrats and Hollywood stars drink the blood of children in a global pedophilia ring.”

Boebert praised the closing of the “autonomous zone” in Seattle.

In her “contract with Colorado,” Boebert says she is “America first.” She believes “life begins at conception.” She’s for “free markets,” “liberty,” “strong borders,” and more.

Boebert suggested (wrongly) that Scrabble dumping some words “chips away” at the First Amendment.

Boebert said, “‘Flatten the curve’ turned into Communism very quickly.”

The New York Times has an article discussing Boebert’s comments about QAnon. See the direct link.

Radio host Ross Kaminsky hosted Boebert.

Progressives [have] tagged Boebert as a QAnon conspiracy theorist and a lousy restaurateur owing to three-year-old accusations that involve bloody diarrhea.”

Corey Hutchins discusses media handling of Boebert’s remarks about QAnon.

Boebert’s restaurant has had some financial troubles.

Boebert picked up the endorsement of Tom Tancredo.

Peak Politics defended Boebert regarding her various arrests.

Last updated August 30, 2020.

Colorado Oil Well Cleanup

July 27th, 2020

A problem in Colorado is that some oil companies go bankrupt and don’t clean up sites. Joe Salazar notes that “SB19-181 [which passed] . . . will eventually . . . require oil and gas operators to provide financial assurances that they can take on a project from birth to remediation.” See also Chase Woodruff’s report.

Colorado’s COVID-19 Testing

July 27th, 2020

Ben Markus has out a report about Colorado’s lackluster testing program for COVID-19. Aside from the terrible federal response, the state had two main problems: the health department had a serious leadership meltdown leading into the pandemic, and outside help didn’t seem to accomplish much. I Tweeted a summary with some supplementary information.

In other news: “Thousands of people defy public health orders, pack into a field in Weld County for an outdoor concert.” Here’s more.

And: “Woodland Park [Colorado]-based Andrew Wommack Ministries held a multi-day conference that included over 1,000 attendees from July 30th through July 3rd. Now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has traced a COVID-19 outbreak to the event, with seven staff members and fifteen attendees testing positive.”

Socialism on a Spectrum

July 26th, 2020

My Tweet: “Here’s an analogy I think is helpful. Everyone has some psychopathic traits, but a psychopath is someone who scores very high for most psychopathic traits. Similarly, many societies (including ours) have some traits of socialism and fascism but are neither socialist nor fascist.” It’s not a perfect analogy, of course. I think psychopaths stay remain at pretty much the same level of psychopathy (at least after a certain point) throughout their lives, whereas societies change. Also, whereas some psychopathic traits are or can be positive for people, I want to say that traits of socialism and fascism always are bad. But then I may have trouble talking about things like roads and the welfare state.

Religious Liberty in Court

July 25th, 2020

I’m going to round up some news and commentary about law and religion.

A church in Nevada complained it was not given the same liberties to open as casinos: “Calvary Chapel only seeks to host about 90 people at a socially-distanced church service, while the governor allows hundreds to thousands of people to gamble and enjoy entertainment at casinos.” The Supreme Court declined to hear the suit in question by a 5–4 vote.

In a 2018 interview, Constitutional law scholar Rob Natelson explains that “sectarian” in the context of legal language forbidding the use of tax dollars for “sectarian” schools meant something like religiously aberrant, not merely religious. In other words, by this historical usage, a mainstream religious school was “non-sectarian.” Today, from what I can tell, most people use the term “sectarian” to mean “religious,” and that’s how I use the term. Etymologically, the term relates to “sect.”

Last updated July 28.

Huemer on Democracy

July 25th, 2020

“It is the masses who harbor anti-democratic attitudes. Democratic values are the province of the elites. It is the elites who must protect those values from the masses.” So says Michael Huemer.

Huemer worries that, these days, “we have a great democratization of information,” and this is destroying our culture. “Now that the masses are participating in content-generation and -distribution too, they’re bringing everyone down to their level,” he writes.

Sanger Cancelled

July 25th, 2020

Planned Parenthood to remove Margaret Sanger’s name from center over ‘racist legacy.'”

In other abortion news: “Doctors pressured mother to abort baby with Down’s syndrome at 38-weeks.”

Protest Avoidance Behavior and COVID-19

July 20th, 2020

Denver economist Andrew Friedson thinks the George Floyd protests did not on net cause an increase in COVID-19 cases because they scared other people indoors. What this doesn’t answer, of course, is whether the protests themselves led to any new cases of COVID-19, or how many.

Federal Kidnappings in Oregon

July 20th, 2020

Federal agents have arrested people for no good reason in Portland.

Rioters Shut Down Denver Pro-Police Rally

July 20th, 2020

The difference between a protester and a rioter is that the latter hurts people or destroys property. On June 19, a conservative group attempted to hold a lawful, permitted pro-police rally in Denver. A group led by Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation intentionally “shut down” the rally, in some cases by violently attacking ralliers, and drove them from the area. As I mentioned on Twitter, the attack was not merely “opposing speech.” I noted that the ralliers “were met, in some cases, by violent assault. And infiltrating another group’s peaceful, lawful, permitted rally with the intention of shutting it down, which they did, is a violation of speech.” Michelle Malkin (with whom I often disagree) posted video of the event, where she had been planning to speak.

Tangentially related issue: Malkin reports that Governor Jared Polis blocked her on Twitter with his @jaredpolis account. My take (edited): “This is an interesting case given lawsuits regarding elected officials blocking people on social media. My quick read: Because this is Polis’s personal account, and he has a separate Twitter account in his capacity as governor [@GovoOfCo], he’s probably ok legally to block people.”

Colorado Price-Gouging Law

July 16th, 2020

Colorado law now bans price gouging during disasters — but doesn’t define the term.” Price controls are especially harmful during an emergency.

Progressive Eugenics

July 15th, 2020

The widespread acceptance of eugenics in the United States, especially by progressives, is a troubling part of U.S. history unknown to many Americans.”