Wednesday, January 5, 2011

News notes of late

Here are a couple of things that've been popping up in the news lately that I'd like to share with more than my facebook page.

First, there's the report of DNA evidence exonerating people who were sentenced to long prison sentences for crimes such as murder and rape. This article from NPR discusses the most recent, a man who has served 30 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. There's a lot to consider with this story, including the impact that these false convictions might have on the ability of police and jurors to believe a victim or survivor who attempts to identify the person who raped them, but of note to me as well is the fact that the statistics and background provided by The Innocence Project point to racism as a primary factor in the wrong convictions. Is it any wonder that the majority of death-row inmates released in Texas have been Black men?

Second, Justice Scalia had a conversation with California Lawyer, in which he stated that the 14th Amendment doesn't protect women. This shouldn't be too surprising- read any of Scalia's opinions that deal with social justice issues and you'll understand what I mean- but is still troubling. The 14th Amendment was created to rectify the severe injustices that slavery of African captives had wrought, but doesn't specifically state that it applies only to particular types of injustice (racism, in this case). One of my graduate school classmates sided very strongly with the sort of opinion that Scalia expressed here, arguing that applying an amendment intended for racism to sexism diluted and conflated the issues. It was a viewpoint I was new to, and found interesting and not entirely without merit, though I continue to disagree. Not only are the two not separate issues to begin with, and not only did a sex-focused Equal Rights Amendment fail to pass, but the 14th Amendment is also used to seek justice in cases of commerce. COMMERCE. How is THAT not diluting the issues of racism?

Finally, this article about an intersex dog receiving genital restructuring surgery comes to us from the UK's Daily Mail. Apparently, it's imperative that anyone whose sex or gender identity isn't perfectly aligned with cis expectations- even if they're a dog- undergo surgery to change that.

With that, I head off to start my workday. Let us know as you come across noteworthy (for better or worse) news!

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