One Year In The Blawgosphere

About a year ago Scott Greenfield put the call out for new talent at this website he’d co founded with Lee Pacchia called “Fault Lines.”  The thing that made Fault Lines so unique, so different from all the other blawgs and websites was that its contributors came from all walks of the criminal justice system, and were active participants in it.  I’ve always been a writer at heart, and I loved Scott’s blawg Simple Justice, so I thought I’d reach out to him and see if he was interested in taking on a “baby lawyer” to his new team.

“Maybe.  Send me something.  I might say no” was the response I got back.

That evening I dashed off a piece on the A.J. Johnson rape case, Stephen Ross Johnson’s trial strategy, and how it all framed against the Christian/Newsom murders in Knoxville.  Scott’s response was quick back:

“I want you to write for me.  You have two days a week.  Get your pieces in by 5 PM the day before.  Don’t miss deadlines.”

Tomorrow’s piece is my one year anniversary at Fault Lines.  Below you’ll find some links to some of the favorite stories I’ve worked on over the last year.  Before I get to that, a bit of thanks are in order.

First, to Scott Greenfield:  Thank you for giving me a shot, thank you for letting me write as much as I wanted, and thank you for kicking my ass repeatedly to make me a better writer.  The difference between that first post and the drafts I send in now are night and day.

To Lee Pacchia:  Thank you for helping give Fault Lines some web space.  Thank you for putting me on podcasts and video spots on the YouTube channel.  The stuff you’ve done has made a difference in our world.

To all my co-contributors, past and present: Thank you for your contributions to Fault Lines.  Without you I wouldn’t have as much fun as I do on a regular basis with the site.

And finally, to you, the readers: Thank you each and every week for your comments and contributions to what we do.  Our work is there to make sure that you walk away a little smarter at Fault Lines.

Here’s to another great years’ worth of work pointing out the cracks in the criminal justice system.  Let’s do another anniversary post in a year to see how far it goes.

Some of my favorite posts:

Inquiry Launched After Massive 6th Amendment Violation By Kansas US Attorney

In Tennessee, A Child Abuse Registry Without A Crime

A Judge’s Simple Request Meets A Cop-Friendly Mayor

Don’t forget my spat with the Indigent Defense Task Force:

An Open Letter To The Tennessee Indigent Representation Task Force

Tennessee Indigent Defense Task Force Responds (and So Do I)

Tennessee’s Indigent Defense Task Force Does Nothing

Tennessee Task Force On Lying To The Poor

There was the first ever co-post at Fault Lines with Andrew Fleischman:

Just As The Founders Intended, The Right To Rape Reasonably

And my favorite “joke post” at Fault Lines:

Pokemon Go Must Go

Let’s do this again in August 2017.


A Lesson in Location, Setting, and Message

Image courtesy GC Hutson

Image courtesy GC Hutson

Over at Simple Justice, my mentor Scott Greenfield posed a question on the lunacy that has become academia in the context of two teachers and the way their “academic freedom” is handled. I’m going to stab at answering it.

Or is it just crazy to think that there should be anyone in higher education who realizes that they’re all nuts?

It’s absolutely crazy to think anyone in higher education circles should realize they’re all nuts.  Students in higher education right now have been so insulated from having uncomfortable discussions, with their lives spent largely in the digital world, that they don’t know how to effectively communicate or respond to others.  Add to this the “special snowflake” mentality most parents take with their children, continually playing the role of “helicopter parent” enforced by the police state and you get a toxic combination of people who will not listen or communicate to others.

The educators are a harder nut to crack.  It might be because they’re sincere in their belief structure, and truly grasp certain aspects of this lunacy.

Take a look at the image Scott posts here.

That’s a professor at Oberlin College, known heavily for being a hotbed of this new crazy that is straying from uncomfortable discussions and challenging ideas, including becoming the laughingstock of the nation when the students complained about the ethnic authenticity of food served in their college cafeteria.

It’s an awful set of ideas, and Scott makes no bones acknowledging that.

That Karega’s ideas are reprehensible is, frankly, no big deal in itself.  Academics think lots of stupid thoughts. And on rare occasion, their stupid thoughts turn out to be right, which is why we let them do so without storming the Ivory Tower with torches and pitchforks.

But look at the other example Scott mentions.  Andrea Quinette was chased out of her classroom because she was attempting to pander to those students she taught.  She was attempting to be a communicator, and discuss her shortcomings when it came to “white privilege.”  In having that discussion with her students, she ended up using the dreaded “n” word which White People Must Not Utter, and as a result is now “under investigation” for not doing what students want her to do.

In case you’re struggling to follow, it’s as nuts as it first appears.  In the course of discussing her own white privilege, she used a forbidden word, prompting outrage from her students who then sent out an open letter to demand she be fired.

This is a good time to look at the way the message was sent and received.  In the case of Karega, she gets a pass because of the environment in which she teaches.  She’s been around a place where words hurt and harm so long that she can’t realize she’s adding to the toxicity when she posts her drivel about “Zionism.”

Quintette was, in contrast, in an environment she didn’t completely understand.  She knew she wanted to convey a message and do so from a vulnerable spot.  What she didn’t understand is that the students were so insulated in their own little bubbles that the moment she used a less than optimal word in communicating her message, she’d placed her neck on the chopping block.

Is it really PC hysteria, though?  Is this the stifling of “academic freedom?” I’ve been turning this thought pattern in my head all morning.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s an issue of “location, setting, and message” gone completely bonkers.

Students don’t want to hear things with which they disagree.  Take a look at any Facebook or Twitter account and see the number of times you see the phrase “If you disagree with me on (x), delete/unfriend me.” That’s a person who doesn’t want to have a rational, logical conversation over any uncomfortable idea.

They head to higher education, which is a business.  Those who are in higher education have to justify the outrageous sums charged for tuition in degrees like “gender studies” or “race theory,” so the teaching staff is more likely to pander to the student and either attempt to discuss or propagate the “social justice” mindset, which continues to cannibalize itself on a daily basis.  If you do that, and you give yourself enough time to buy into that frame of reference, then you will eventually adopt it to the point of madness.

Karega is a shining example of the lunatics completely running the asylum.  Oberlin’s gotten to the point where they buy the Social Justice mindset so much they’ll never return to sanity.  The location, setting, and message are all congruent to produce such an environment.

Quinette, on the other hand, is the proverbial canary in the coal mine at the University of Kansas.  She’s a communications professor.  She tried to communicate with people in the language she thought they understood.  When she did so, without remembering the audience receiving her message, she got silenced for making students feel “uncomfortable.”

The location and setting were only slightly congruent.  Quintette’s message, as a result, was completely incongruent, and that’s why she’s being punished for attempting to reach her audience on their level.

Academia is a place where people either don’t understand the concepts of “location, setting, and message” and how all three intersect work or simply just don’t care.  That’s why Quinette got a roll of dimes and a ticket home, while Karega will continue to bask in the toxic Oberlin environment.

And that’s the best I can manage to answer Scott’s question in the world of Mediation is Dead.

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