Human Life is Sacred: What the death penalty, abortion, birth control, and 9/11 can teach us about the intersection of homicide and suicide

For a couple of years now I have come to believe that the death penalty should not be enforced. By this, I am not saying that the death penalty should not exist or that the death penalty should be abolished. On the contrary, there are acts that are so heinous that justice demands a sentence of death! However, once pronounced, humanity must step in and commute death to life imprisonment…unless the offender consents. Continue reading “Human Life is Sacred: What the death penalty, abortion, birth control, and 9/11 can teach us about the intersection of homicide and suicide”

The End of Net Neutrality Won’t Be An Apocalypse

Net neutrality is a good thing, but its demise won’t be the apocalyptic threshold that many “Chicken Littles” prognosticate. There are just too many money-grubbing attorneys chomping at the bit for a juicy class-action suit. Then too, there is also the US Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Protections Bureau on deck to intervene if the existing laws and court rulings are violated.

Around 100 years ago, the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910 legislatively declared telecommunication networks to be common carriers subject to Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce. In 1974, MCI sued AT&T in federal court for violating Mann-Elkins after Illinois Bell (at the time a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T) severed all of MCI’s network interconnections. MCI won a $1.8 billion judgement (which was upheld, though reduced, in 1983 by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals). But ever since the 1970s, telecommunication providers cannot (lawfully) deny network access to a party that is willing and able to pay for the service nor can telecommunication providers charge dissimilar access rates to competitors. In fact, MCI’s initial 1974 victory over AT&T was the very thing that led to the federal government’s antitrust action that resulted in AT&T’s unprecedented breakup. Continue reading “The End of Net Neutrality Won’t Be An Apocalypse”

Gender Equality in the Shadow of 1960s Civil Rights

The outside temperature reached 103° F one recent July afternoon in south Georgia. I once experienced even hotter temperatures in Spain a decade ago, but the gulf humidity here is a beast of a different kind. I bounced to a thrift store in search of extensively used (i.e. breathable) medical scrubs. Little did I know that this simple mission would ignite a profound inquiry into gender equality.

I did not find scrubs suited to my quest, but hanging right beside the roundabout was a plain, charred olive A-line miniskirt. It struck me as an even better heat-buster and the skirt looked so sensible and professional as to remind me of my days in the corporate offices of a large regional bank. Gender equality afforded women the option to wear pants many decades ago so what was stopping me from enjoying the comfort of a skirt? As progressive as that bank was in its employee policies, I think management would have fairly and intellectually considered the prospect. Unfortunately, I suspect my subsequent world of public academia is not as capable of cerebral contemplation on issues of gender normativity.

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Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)

Houston v. Hill is a remarkable U.S. Supreme Court case that tackles abuses of power by police departments. The Supreme Court decided 7-2 that a Houston, Texas ordinance that was routinely used to arrest citizens for merely “arguing, talking, interfering, failing to remain quiet, refusing to remain silent, verbal abuse, cursing, verbally yelling, and talking loudly” toward a police officer.

Not only did the Supreme Court rule this type of conduct to be protected First Amendment speech, but the Supreme Court also expressed that the right to question police conduct is a fundamental distinction between democracy and dictatorship.

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