Screw You Tuesday

I’ve noticed around the blogosphere that many posters have a couple themes they fall back on when the rants or chatter just aren’t flowing as fast as we’d like: @ Pandagon, Friday Random Ten FILL IN THE BLANK HERE, @ Oh For Fun!, PBS Monday, and @ The Curvature, Bad Ass Women’s Activist of the Week. 

Lately, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Gulf Coast housing reports, legislation and activism, but I haven’t quite sorted through it all to post eloquently here.  And in approximately 12 hours the M.A.S. and I head off for a road trip to DC, where I’ll be greasing palms for Campaign ’08…kidding!!  Where we’ll be visiting the M.A.S.’s and some of my dear peeps.  Therefore, may I present a pilot theme for The Redstar Perspective, Screw You Tuesday, where each Tuesday (or Monday night), I’ll post some recent links to some unfair sh*t going on in the world.  Cuz remember what mom said, “life’s not fair.”  (Although my aunt always told me, “You play, you pay.”)

Starting here in New England is this article about the overdue resignation of Ralph Papitto, the board member (for whom the law school is named) at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island who most recently used the n-word in remarks about African-American recruitment, but has been long known for racial, ethnic and sexist slurs.  Other trustees who protested his continued board membership were ousted.  He denies he’s a racist; as for his recent word choice, “It happens,” he remarked.  (Just in case we still hadn’t convinced you about Northern racism…)

While Papitto huffs that his colleagues didn’t keep his bigoted charms to themselves, the poor in this country know no right to privacy, Adam Liptak writes in yesterday’s NY Times.  Since you obviously can’t afford the unexplained and exclusive access I have to the Times Select article, I offer some tidbits here (worth reading if only for one official’s interpretation of “rehabilitation”):

In San Diego, poor people who want public benefits must give up their privacy. Investigators from the district attorney’s office there make unannounced visits to the homes of people applying for welfare, poking around in garbage cans, medicine chests and laundry baskets.

Lawyers who have sued on behalf of the applicants say that being poor should not mean having to give up the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable government searches.

“The poor are presumed guilty, presumed lazy and presumed to be trying to gain something they don’t deserve,� said Professor Budd, who now teaches at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H. “It’s a general poverty exception to the Fourth Amendment.�

The majority in a divided three-judge panel decision last year upholding the program made two basic points. The first was that people are free to opt out — by giving up their welfare benefits.

The dissenting judge called that a false choice for an applicant desperate to feed her children.

The majority also relied on a 1971 Supreme Court decision, Wyman v. James, which upheld a New York program [of] scheduled visits from social workers, not surprise searches by investigators from a prosecutor’s office [for] “rehabilitation.�

At his deposition in the case, Mr. Aragon said his office’s investigators were not in the rehabilitation business.

“I’m trying to imagine what rehabilitation would be,� he testified. “Get off the couch. Get a job. I don’t know.�

One of the dissenting judges, Harry Pregerson, writing for himself and six colleagues in April, suggested one sort of argument that might be promising. He said there was a double standard at work.

“The government does not search through the closets and medicine cabinets of farmers receiving subsidies,� Judge Pregerson wrote. “They do not dig through the laundry baskets and garbage pails of real estate developers or radio broadcasters.�

Only the poor, he said, must “give up their rights of privacy in exchange for essential public assistance.�


Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast continues to die a slow “death”

…while Al Gore et al’s antics have repercussions that they likely didn’t consider.  (Why am I not surprised? Perhaps this guy should jump all over this.)

And just in case you weren’t paying attention before, subprime lending disproportionately harms cities and minority groups!!!!  Let’s say it a few more times….

But lest you think we’re the only ones w/problems, just be glad this guy’s not your kid’s pediatrician. (The Brits, they’re just like us!  These two, anyway.)

And, as we all know, sometimes justice…well, it’s bittersweet, but never enough.


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