Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cyberbullying Not a Homicide Case

We have a thirteen year old girl named Megan. She was emotionally unstable to the point where she had already made an attempt on her own life.

We have a 49 year old woman named Lori Drew and her thirteen year old daughter, Sarah, who created a fake online personality. They used this personality, named "Josh", to harass and manipulate Megan in to committing suicide.

They eventually mocked her and told her that the world would be better off without her. Megan shortly thereafter committed suicide.

This is what gets me:
Defence attorney Dean Steward told jurors ... she [Lori Drew] was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.

“This is not a homicide case,” Mr. Steward said.

Why not?

What on earth would it take to make it a homicide case? You went after a vulnerable, mentally unstable teenager and basically told her to kill herself. And this isn't murder?

Suppose you walked out on a balcony of an apartment building and found a mentally disabled person standing against the railing. Suppose you then told this person that he could fly and you encouraged him to jump to his death.

Wouldn't you be guilty of murder?

Even then, that's only (only?) murder in the second degree or manslaughter or whatever. In the case of Megan's death, we're talking about legions of planning and days or weeks of manipulation. This is premeditated. If this isn't first-degree murder, what is?

I'm aware that I lack lawyerly expertise and that there is probably some technicality through which, by virtue of not actually physically being anywhere near Megan, a conviction of murder would violate some centuries old definition. But let's be prepared to acknowledge that the world is a changing place.

There's still a dead body. There's still someone obviously to blame for it.

What about that isn't murder?

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let Big Auto Fail?

Really, let's think about it.

They've made whole fleets of useless, oversized cars. They've protested every attempt at imposing mileage standards. And now they're in trouble. They're prophesying doom and gloom for a whole plethora of vertically integrated suppliers and resources.

Here's the thing, though.

Either people want to buy those cars or people don't. Either people can afford those cars or people can't. All that government intervention can do is allow the automakers to make more cars that people apparently aren't buying.

Let's say that again.

All that government intervention can do is force more unwanted cars in to existence.

Why would we spend our national treasure in this manner? (Yes, I know it's actually low interest loans, but that still counts as money.) Why would we spend unwanted things in to existence? Why would we favour such use of precious mineral and energy resources?

If the big three automakers are failing, it's because they produce things that no one wants. If they want to attract more customers, make products that are desirable. Something in the fuel efficient, cost effective area might work better. If you want to save these companies, you're barking up the wrong tree. They have to save themselves.

On the flip side, it's just barely possible that we just don't need so many cars - or maybe we just don't need to be trading them in every two years. Maybe the credit isn't there to afford that lifestyle anymore. In that case, you're just building cars for nobody. Sure, the government can make them cheaper by floating low-interest loans through the car companies, but that's not going to make that big a difference.

Sorry, Big Three. If no one wants your products, why should taxpayers donate their savings to making them anyway?

It just doesn't make sense.

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More Parental Leave When You Have Twins

I have always found security and reassurance in a debate when I discover that my opponents are extremely illiterate. Use of "argument by Caps Lock" and excessive punctuation (i.e. !!?!!!???!) are also soothing.

So when I read this article about parents of twins who feel that they should each be able to take full, simultaneous, parental leave (with E.I. payments), I was gratified to see that most of the people opposed to their suit were incoherently angry.

Briefly, the law in Canada currently allows a total of 35 weeks of parental leave. This leave may be taken by either parent after the birth of a child. The leave may be split between the parents, but they may not take it concurrently. Traditionally, Mom stays home until she feels like going back to work, then Dad can take the rest of the leave if he wants.

What these parents are arguing is that the mother should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the first child and the father should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the second. They argue that this is legitimate because leave time should be child-based, not pregnancy-based. Basically, if their children were born a year apart, they would get two slates of 35 weeks of leave. If the children are born a minute apart, 35 weeks of leave disappears.

On the other hand, they also argue that twins are more work and therefore two parents are initially required.

For entertainment you can read the comments attached to the article. Some people quietly agree. Some quietly find a middle ground. Some more people are angrily disagreeing. My favourite, now deleted, invited Mr. Martin to "keep his dick in his pants" if he didn't want to pay for his own children.

The article and the comments seem to be a mishmash of pedantic examinations of the wording of various Acts and insults. How is the law worded? Can they sue for discrimination? How will government employees interpret the wording?

This is missing the point. The point is that we as a society decided that a parent taking time off work is a good thing. Therefore we pledge to ensure that any parent taking time off work for a newborn will be protected from dismissal and somewhat financially assisted. The question in front of us is not whether the wording of the Act allows extra leave for twins. The question is not a matter of lawsuits and discrimination.

The question is: Do we as a society feel that we would all benefit from having parents take extra leave in the case of multiple births?

My suspicion is that the answer is very probably "yes" but that the additional parental leave would not be a full 35 weeks for a second parent. Twins are more work, yes, but they aren't twice the work. There's some overhead there. We'll probably find, very shortly, that the government institutes a 10 to 15 week "concurrent leave allowance" or some such thing, for the second parent, in the case of multiple births.

That would probably make everybody happy, except for the "argument by Caps Lock" people, whom we should ignore anyway.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Republicans Confused

Some of them are still stuck on the idea that everything is Clinton's fault. But after eight years, that's getting ridiculous. So ... let's blame the faltering economy on ... drum roll ... Obama!

Yes, we'll compare the yo-yo of the day-trading on Wall St. with the yo-yo of campaign polling twitches and declare a correlation between Obama being in the lead and the Dow Jones going down.

Why look! There was a 14% down tick during the last two weeks! That's the day traders and brokers registering their disapproval of Obama! (Actually, I'm kind of okay with the idea that brokers and traders disapprove of the next president.)

On the other hand, there's the occasional Republican supporter who acknowledges that Bush was a failure. Seeing as he ran as a conservative and failed to ever balance a budget, this seems to me a long time in coming, but as long as you get there eventually I suppose you can say it's all about the journey. I'm not sure how a single person can acknowledge what a lousy budget-balancer Bush was and simultaneously credit him with huge tax cuts. I suppose this is part of the general and international tendency of conservatives to demand tax cuts without naming what services they will also cut. They like to eat their cake and have it too.

Ah, lovely is self destruction.

I can't wait for the attempt to rebuild the Republican party that involves the social conservatives demanding more and the fiscal conservatives telling them to shut up while the power brokers of the party really just want to loot the treasury.

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