Tag Archives: supreme court

To Kill A Mockingbird – 2018 Reboot

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’ll just leave this here, for no particular reason.


And so, gentlemanly country lawyer Atticus Finch did call his client, Tom Robinson, into his law office.  Tom Robinson, a black man, had been falsely accused of rape and since it was the Jim Crow south, no lawyer other than Atticus was willing to help the poor man.

“I swear I didn’t rape that woman, Atticus,” Tom said. “I swear, I didn’t.  Do you think you’ll be able to save me at trial?”

“Well,” Atticus said as he sipped a mint julep. “I’m just a simple country lawyer who likes to sit on his rocking chair and enjoy a nice cool breeze on a summer’s evening, but I say, I do declare that whether we should save you is not the proper consideration but rather, the appropriate issue is should we save you?”

“Should we save me?” Tom asked.  “But sir, I have been falsely accused!”

“Sir!”  Atticus said.  “Lower your voice!  I shall not have such triggering hate speech in my office.”

“What?” Tom asked.

“You see, Tom,” Atticus said.  “It doesn’t matter if you were falsely accused or not because all accusers have the right to be instantly and automatically believed.  Why, if you don’t believe an accusation without further question or inquiry, then you are not just insulting the individual accuser in this case but anyone and everyone who has ever dared to stand up and accuse someone of anything.

“But Mr. Finch,” Tom said.  “I’m not trying to tarnish the reputation of anyone who has ever made an accusation.  I realize that for the world to keep turning that people need to be able to stand up and say when something bad happened.  I’m just saying that in this case, when my accuser makes a false accusation, I need you to present my case and prove the truth.  I didn’t do it, sir.  I’m innocent and that fact must be presented to the jury.”

Atticus brushed a piece of lint off his clean, white suit.  “Sir, I say, I do declare I’m sorry but I just can’t go on with this hateful discussion.  All accusers are to be believed, sir and frankly, whether or not you are guilty or innocent is immaterial.  If you do not skip this trial and skip straight to hanging yourself then your accuser’s feelings, as well as the feelings as anyone who has ever made an accusation against anyone since the beginning of all time will be hurt and we can’t have that, so please, go hang yourself now.”

Tom stood up.  “Sir, if I may be so bold, if you’re not going to defend me against an accusation then why are you here?”

“Why, I do declare I’m just here to sip mint juleps and look good in this white suit,” Atticus said.  “Good day, sir.  Please go see the proprietor of our local mercantile and acquire a length of rope.  I’ll see to it that your estate will handle the bill just as soon as you hang yourself promptly.”

Tom shook Atticus’ hand.  “Very well, sir.  You make a fine point.  I don’t want accusers to feel bad and even if the accusation against me is false, my life must be over now because if it isn’t then people with true accusations will feel bad and true accusers just won’t be intelligent enough to be able to figure out that in this particular case, the accusation was false.  I will go hang myself posthaste.”

“Glad to hear it,” Atticus said.  “Enjoy your hanging, Tom.”

Tom left the room.  Atticus’ young daughter, Scout, had been playing with a doll in a corner of the room the entire time.

“Daddy?” Scout said.

“Yes, dear?” Atticus replied.

“The world sure has gotten fucked up, ain’t it, Daddy?” Scout asked.

“It sure has, Scout,” Atticus said.  “It sure has.”

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Rock Band “The Slants”

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

Interesting story on FOX news today – there’s an all Asian-American rock band calling themselves “The Slants.”  They attempted to trademark their name but were denied by the government on a claim that the term was offensive, racially insensitive etc.

They took their case to the Supreme Court and won.  SCOTUS struck down “the disparagement clause” which keeps offensive terms from being trademarked.

(Sidenote: I’m not here to debate whether or not the term “slant” when used in reference to an Asian is offensive.  A) it is but B) the issue isn’t whether or not the term is or isn’t but whether or not the government can tell a band they aren’t allowed to name themselves that.)

I’m a free speech purist, so I side with “The Slants” on this.  In theory, it may sound great to give the government the power to censor “offensive speech” but offense is in the eye of the offended and once you give the government an inch of power they’ll take a mile of it. Today they’re censoring inappropriate rock band names, tomorrow they will censor political speech as offensive – i.e. “I think Candidate X is wrong on such and such issue” might be deemed offensive and you’d be tossed in the hoosegow for voicing your political beliefs.

Thus, when it comes to free speech purism, you have to rely on the “marketplace of ideas” to sort things out.  “The Slants” may have come up with a clever marketing gimmick to get themselves some play in the short term.  Hell, even I’m not really a fan of using the term “slant” – maybe I’ll have to start calling them “That Asian-American Rock Band” or something.  At any rate, if they want any long lasting staying power, they will have to churn out some super catchy tunes or else the people will vote with their ears.

That’s how this all works, people.  That dude on the street corner wearing a sandwich board that reads “Hitler is My BFF” and ringing a bell gets to do that under the law and that’s the price we all pay to be able to speak our own minds.

Don’t worry about that hypothetical guy with the sandwich board.  The free marketplace of ideas will be regulate him.  He won’t be invited to any fancy dinner parties or getting any positions of power anytime soon.  Let the people decide what speech gets you where, but don’t let the government start picking and choosing who gets to say what.  In the short term, it may spare your ears from having to hear things you don’t want to hear but in the long run, it will eventually lead to you not being able to say what you want to say.

Sidenote – I’d be curious if “NWA” ever had any trademark issues or did they solve the issue by just calling themselves “NWA” and leaving it to the public to figure out what that stood for?  (FYI millenials, I’m not telling you what it stands for.)


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Movie Review – Ted 2 (2015)

Oh Ted, you talking teddy bear you, what wacky hijinx will you get into next?

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING – though let’s face it, like its 2012 predecessor, it’s basically one big extended Family Guy episode.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here with a review of Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg’s latest dip into the sequel well.

It’s strangely poignant that this movie came out on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states.  While I don’t want to offend anyone by comparing the civil rights struggle of a whole group of Americans to that of a fictional teddy bear, the movie does in a big way and at times, it’s surprisingly poetic (well, as poetic as a movie about a bong hitting foul mouthed stuffed animal can get).

Ted and human girlfriend Tammy got married at the end of the last film.  You remember the first film, right?  It was a welcome, well-received smash hit, one that left you rolling in the aisles and busting at the seems with laughter?

This one, not so much, though there were still plenty of moments that left BQB slapping his knee.  In McFarlane’s defense, sometimes it is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice.

When Ted and Tammy’s marriage starts to hit the skids, they decide to try to revitalize things by having a baby (because that always helps, right?)

Ted can’t biologically father a child because he’s a teddy bear and I’ll avoid spoilers by just pointing out that after various comical attempts at obtaining a kid, Ted ends up being declared “property” by the government.

Turns out, he’s not legally recognized as a person.

It’s up to Wahlberg (Ted’s longtime friend John), and John’s new love interest, freshly graduated and green lawyer Sam (Amanda Seyfried) to save the day and convince the world that there’s more to Ted than fabric and cotton stuffing.

Morgan Freeman who plays a veteran attorney that comes to the group’s aid, puts it best when he informs Ted that his problem isn’t exactly a legal one but rather an emotional one.  Society has a tendency to answer questions like this with its heart rather than with an eye toward the law or a consideration as to what’s fair.

In other words, Ted, who’s spent a lifetime hitting the bong, watching TV, and not doing much else, has to do something to stand out as a valued member of society in order to convince people to see things from his perspective.

Again, not to compare an actual civil rights movement to a teddy bear’s struggle, but when you think about it, Morgan’s on to something.

Massachusetts (Ted’s home state) was the first state whose judiciary declared same-sex marriage legal in 2004.  At the time, people across the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, declared the sky was falling and there was some kind of conspiracy to turn everyone gay.  Eleven years later when that didn’t happen, people softened up, a lot of minds were changed, and the U.S. Supreme Court was able to make a decision that probably would have gotten them tarred and feathered over a decade ago.

In other words, we like to think this is a “nation of laws, not men” (John Adams for the win), but at the end of the day, vexing questions are often decided through emotion rather than reason and sometimes those in a struggle have to wait for emotion to swing their way.

Oh, and also the teddy bear smokes pot.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy, worth a watch for comedy lovers, though does not surpass the first film.

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Same Sex Marriage Ruling – Impact on Books/Entertainment

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

As my 3.5 readers are aware, I avoid getting political on this blog.  I feel my goal is to entertain and I don’t want to alienate anyone because honestly, I’m kind of shooting for a “everyone love me no matter who you are and please buy my book if I ever write one” kind of a vibe.

If you want actual analysis of world events and important issues of the day, you should talk to someone whose best friend isn’t an alien.

ALIEN JONES:  “Best” friends might be pushing it a bit.

Bah.  Thanks a lot Esteemed Brainy One.  (By the way, AJ has a backlog lately.  If you’ve asked him a question, he will eventually get to it, though it might take a week or two.)

Still, the Supreme Court ruling is such a landmark event that it seems odd not to mention it and since this is a blog about writing and books (but also yetis and nerds), I thought this might be a good discussion question:

What’s the impact on the entertainment world?

If same-sex marriage is allowed in all 50 states, will we see more same-sex couples in books?

If so, will they be presented by authors in a “HEY EVERYONE!  LOOK AT ME!  I’M A DIVERSE AUTHOR!  THERE’S A SAME-SEX COUPLE IN MY BOOK!” type of manner?

Personally, I think if the world’s walking down an equality path, the better approach might be to present these characters just as anyone else.

I’ll point to John Scalzi’s Lock-In as an example.  In that book, there’s a same-sex (male) couple who play a pivotal point in the plot.  There’s no discussion of it or attempts to overtly point it out.  They’re just worked into the mix like every other character.

Perhaps this is a dumb discussion.  Gay characters have appeared in books, TV shows, movies etc for awhile.

But, will this change that?  For example, will we see a Hollywood summer blockbuster where the lead character is gay?  Could you ever envision say, a San Andreas style action movie where the lead is a gay dude trying to fight his way through a disaster and bring his husband to safety?

Maybe I have no idea what I’m saying.  Hell, maybe I’m just trying to bring more clicks to this blog by discussing a prominent issue on everyone’s mind.

(By the way, click a few buttons while you’re on this site, will you?  My stats are lower than the ratings of a network television show.)

Whatever your thoughts on the issue, keep it to the impact on entertainment and try to be courteous and respectful to everyone.

After all, this isn’t one of those cable shows where all the talking head pundits shout over each other.

This is a nerd blog, where all nerds of all kinds with all different points of view are welcome.

(But seriously nerds, please buy my book if I ever write one.)

And click a few buttons so the Mighty Potentate doesn’t fire Alien Jones (out of a cannon or otherwise).

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