3/08/2003

I’ve just been reading in the Slime Sunday Magazine (it comes out early online) about the arch-conservative Fourth Circuit Court, and wondering where I stand nowadays. The following issues constitute, according to the Slime, "not only ... a conservative philosophy of law but also serve a conservative political agenda." So, let’s see where we agree (whether I would have voted with the court or against it is to the right of the court’s decision). The Fourth Circuit has...

1. upheld the minute of silence in Virginia schools; AGAINST

2. ended court-ordered busing in Charlotte; WITH

3. upheld state laws that stringently regulate abortion clinics or require parental notification or ban so-called partial-birth abortions; AGAINST(with reservations)

4. ruled that the Virginia Military Institute could remain all male as long as there was a separate but comparable education for women; WITH (I mean, come on)

5. upheld a Charleston, S.C., program that tested maternity patients for illegal drug use without their consent and turned the results over to the police; strenuously AGAINST

6. overturned a Virginia prohibition against license plates bearing the Confederate flag; WITH

7. ruled that the F.D.A. didn't have the authority to regulate nicotine as a drug; AGAINST

And, most recently,

8. overruled a West Virginia federal judge's efforts to strictly limit mountaintop mining that buries Appalachian streams beneath piles of fill and waste. AGAINST

So we agreed on three out of eight. Hmm. On busing, on admitting females to all-male schools, and on displaying the Confederate flag on your license plate.

Busing is a big racial issue, but I honestly don’t think that displacing children, shuffling them around to other communities is the right answer. Busing was, by the way, one of Nixon’s things. I think schools should first and foremost be integrated into the community. I think the whole public school system’s fucked up, and busing is definitely a part of the problem. That would be considered a conservative stance, I reckon.

As for all-boy’s schools, I’m all for them. I’m with Rousseau. I think boys and girls should be educated separately, full-stop.

And as for the Confederate flag. If you’re a good ol’ boy, I’d like to know it. If it’s on your license plate, I’ll know not to overtake you. The issue here is probably the appearance of the state sanctioning what the flag stands for, which is, essentially, the dissolution of the union the state is supposedly a part of. I’m assuming you have the option of having a sort of vanity plate with the Confederate flag on it, and not that it’s forced on everyone, but in either case, I think the South’s got a point. And I do believe She’ll rise again. (Remember, I’m a North Carolinian by birth.)

As for the dissenting votes, they aren’t all unequivocal, by any means. Some are, though. For example, school prayer. Keep it out of the classroom. In St. Matthew Christ says you should do it in your closet. Christ said hypocrites do it on the street corner, for all to see, and this is just what he was talking about. And anyway, give these cunts an inch, they’ll take a mile. Pretty soon you’ll have the creationists in there, too.

The thing with the crack moms is fucked up, full-stop.

And the last two are clearly issues of greed trumping common sense. Very cynical.

The abortion thing, I have to honestly say, it’s got nothing to do with me. But it's an unpleasant business for everyone involved. Sex education and readily available contraceptives would go a long way to preventing it.

So what does all that put together make me, I wonder? The thing I mostly don’t like about so-called conservatives is they’re a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites. But that’s what I don’t like about liberals, too. Conservatives tend to demonize the poor, but liberals romanticize them. The truth is somewhere in the middle, I’d say. Neither camp can be counted on to exercise common sense, but Conservatives, because they embrace a black and white universe, where Libs insist everything is ambiguous, have more appeal with the people, at least the people they aren’t demonizing.

Conservative excess is called "tough justice." Liberal excess, on the other hand, is way too easily ridiculed, like the sexual-harassment case, Lisa Ocheltree v. Scollon Productions, which the author of this piece uses to anchor his story. Ocheltree was the only woman in an otherwise all-male costume-production shop. "Over time," the author explains, "the atmosphere grew more coarse, she said, until it was dominated by sexually explicit conversation and behavior. A co-worker pinched the nipples of a mannequin while another fell to his knees and simulated oral sex on it. A co-worker teased her with a dirty song while others, including her supervisor, laughed at the show. A colleague tried to get her to react to a photograph of a man with his genitalia pierced. During Ocheltree's trial, a male co-worker said that the other men would routinely fondle the mannequins because they knew it bothered Ocheltree." That’s it.

This woman first filed suit SEVEN YEARS AGO. She would be willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court for that. I mean, OK, apparently she complained at an employee meeting, and when she tried to get an audience with company executives was repeatedly rebuffed, and, after 18 months got the boot. She won in the first round. A jury awarded her $7,280 in compensatory damages and $400,000 in punitive damages. The company appealed, and the verdict was overturned at the appellate level.

According to the author, one of the three presiding judges (a woman, by the way) argued that "the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace ... is not a 'neo-Victorian chivalry code designed to protect' the 'tender sensitivities of contemporary women.'"

The dissenting Judge wrote that "a reasonable jury would conclude that the men at Scollon Productions resented Ocheltree's intrusion into their workplace and had set out to make her unwelcome. He said that the 'overall tenor of the workplace banter conveyed the message that women exist primarily to gratify male desires for oral sex.' In a workplace suffused with representations of women as sexual objects, a female worker 'would doubtless wonder,' he wrote, whether her male co-workers were looking at her and asking themselves 'whether she "swallows”' or whether she could '"suck a golf ball through a garden hose.'"

Ocheltree took it a step further, the court agreed to take her case en banc. The judges argued amongst themselves, mostly about cunnilingus, and whether or not simulating it on the mannequin should have offended the plaintiff or turned her on.

One of the three libs on the court, and the first and only black to ever serve as a justice in this court said "The problem with the mannequin is that it became almost an effigy, if you will, of the plaintiff." And that’s exactly what you’d expect a liberal to say, isn’t it? Something sort of high-minded and abstract like that. But that’s lending the whole incident a lot more weight than it merits.

All Ocheltree had to do is call her coworkers' bluff. One day she comes in dressed in full dominatrix drag with a giant, black, two-headed dildo, and gets medieval on their asses. Then we see who spits or swallows--their own fucking blood. A little vigilante action never hurt nobody. And serves 'em right, anyways. You don't need to go runnin' to the courts over every little thing, is all I'm sayin'.

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