WSJ photo flap is the Official Stupid Non-Controversy of 2010

A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said today its cover art was not intended as innuendo about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation after the paper’s front-page use of an image of Kagan playing softball provoked a mixture of irritation and amusement from gay and lesbian advocates.

wsjkagancover Y’know I always try to read the minutes from the Gay Agenda committee meetings but I must have I missed the one where they announced women playing softball is a code for lesbian. Or maybe it’s just women who play softball well.

Speaking as one of the three people left in the world who still reads the Journal on paper I have to say my reaction to the photo was that it made Ms. Kagan seem really – oh how should I put this … – normal. Just a regular person having fun playing softball. The only thing it made her look like was someone’s kid sister or maybe a co-worker, or maybe both.

Here’s my favorite quote from the Politico story:

"It clearly is an allusion to her being gay. It’s just too easy a punch line," said Cathy Renna, a former spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who is now a consultant.

The only lesbian punch line I know is this, “A U-Haul.” The joke: “What does a lesbian bring on a second date?” Apparently lesbians move in together quickly. If I were to go by the behavior of my friends who are lesbians I would have to say that this is closer to reporting than to humor.

Ms. Renna continues

"The question from a journalistic perspective is whether it’s a descriptive representation of who she might be as a judge. Have you ever seen a picture of Clarence Thomas bowling?"

No, but I did see some of former Chief Justice Rehnquist appearing as an extra in an opera (true!), does that count?

“The question from a journalistic perspective is whether it’s a descriptive representation of who she might be as a judge.” What would a picture that does this show? Here’s Ms. Kagan at the grocery store weighing a pound of opinion. Here she is in a hard-hat looking constructionist?

Ms. Kagan’s nomination will not be decided by whether or not she is a member of the Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That party. This is really too stupid for anyone to waste their time on. Get back to work getting rid of the Defense of Marriage Act. That actually matters.

Original Americans ask Supreme Court if “Redskins” is offensive

And I ask, “Are you kidding?”

whities The NFL is certainly the only major US business still successfully using a racist epithet in its marketing. For some reason people give a pass to the name of its Washington franchise usually on the grounds that it’s been is use for so long. (Only in America do we think several decades is a significant amount of history.) That argument is too specious to be believed so let us look for an explanation that at least makes sense.

  1. There are very few descendents of the original people who lived here. Those who remain are mostly living in ghettos – sorry, I mean shtetls. No? How about barrios? OK how about nearly restricted to areas with no intrinsic economic potential. They are out of sight and mind for the most part unless you gamble or watch old action movies.
  2. Their dehumanization predates even that of people imported to the nation from Africa or the Far East.
  3. The team’s owner and fan base are located in and around the nation’s capital giving the team unequalled access to our political leaders where they actually live most of the time.
  4. The team has made a lot of money with this brand and doesn’t want to endanger that.

While none of these would seem to me the basis for a legal defense, I doubt for whatever reason the court will find the team name defames. Defamation in law means communicating a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. The team boasts and boosts its name. Using an offensive name as a brand may be an insult to the group being named but it doesn’t seem to me (with my 0 years of legal education) to hit the defamation mark. Unfortunately.

Congrats to the NFL for coming down hard on dog fighting but not on insulting a group of humans. Any chance the ruling will be overturned on replay?

Wait, Wait … Don’t Make Headlines???

My favorite NPR show is actually making news … of exactly the sort it should.

The headline: Justice Breyer goes 0-3 on NPR news quiz

The Lede: WASHINGTON – Here’s what Justice Stephen Breyer revealed about the Supreme Court in his appearance on a radio quiz show: His judicial robe gathers no lint because it’s synthetic.

If it had happened anywhere else it would have been perfect fodder for the show.