Tuesday, December 13

Not a Racist Country

This article is currently the second "most e-mailed" article on the New York Times' website. These events are so horrifying that, even I, with my very low opinion of this country and its racial attitudes, have been shocked.

The New York Times' article contains a classic quote from John Howard. He says "I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country." In a sense, he is correct. 'Underlying' means "To be located under or below" or "Present but not obvious; implicit". Clearly, massive anti-Muslim violence is not 'underlying' racism. Rather, it might be more accurate to call it 'overt'.

However, I don't think Howard is making this subtle semantic point. He is simply denying that there is widespread racism in Australia. It's important to understand what he's trying to do. He wants to ensure that Australians don't engage in any soul searching as a result of this violence. A responsible leader would say 'Thousands of our young people are engaging in racist violence, we must do what we can to understand how this racism is flourishing and do all we can to prevent it.' Howard doesn't want to say that. He doesn't want to say it because he has been carefully exploiting anti-Muslim and anti-aboriginal prejudice for political gain throughout his career. An exploration of the causes of this violence would lead to his door.

Saturday, December 10

The More Things Change

Some of you, like me, might find the motto on my number plate hauntingly familiar. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 1

For The Sentencing Nerds

Here's something for those of you who share my fascination with federal sentencing. Which, in this blog's audience, is probably nobody (unless Chris H still reads this blog, you out there Chris?)

Anyway, since Judge Alito was nominated for the Supreme Court everyone is poring over his paper trail. One document that has got some attention is a transcript of a March 9, 2004, panel discussion of federal sentencing after the Booker decision. My judge (William Sessions) was scheduled to be a panelist but he got 'iced in' and missed his plane. Damn those Vermont winters. The transcript is available here. NPR guru Nina Totenberg moderated. Judge Alito's comments are fairly technical, moderate and uncontroversial but the discussion is interesting (if you're a sentencing nerd).

To prove I am as much of a dork as this post suggests, I've added a photo of my judge and I.Posted by Picasa

At some point I'll get a photo of myself looking ridiculous in the robe I have to wear to court here in Australia.