Tag Archives: Cardozo

A final Jurist column: I’m gettin’ too old for this yoga shit

Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in.

After a leisurely day of walking to Union Square for kale, and then down to Washington Square Park to enjoy my free sample of pita chips and hummus, the Jurist EIC gives me a ring and asks if I want to write one final column.

Apparently, the Cardozo Dean of Career Services announced he was leaving to become a yoga instructor of some such. And in a surprising moment of pro-active journalism, the Jurist decided to cover it even though the year was over. In addition to news coverage, they wanted some commentary, too. Leading, of course, to some very important questions. Such as: Didn’t that asshole graduate already?

Anyways, here is my column, reposted, and obviously not copy-edited. I think I use three different styles for writing Cardozo Dean of Career Services.

Max Fischer said that the key to happiness is finding something you love to do and then doing it for the rest of your life.

I would guess that Dean Fama has found happiness.

In an open letter to Cardozo, Fama explained that he will be leaving his position as Dean of Career Services to merge his yoga and career counseling experience by developing yoga and relaxation programs for lawyers and law students.

But for the rest of us, it often feels like happiness is slightly out of reach. Heck, a legal job with a salary that will let one make student loan payments will suffice.

But Fama’s project sounds very interesting, and I have many questions about it. For example: Is he hiring?

Indeed, there is a bit of an image problem when a law school’s Dean of career services leaves for a non-legal job. Although that seems to be the new standard: go to law school but then not get a job in the legal industry. Of course, this begs the question of why go to law school in the first place?

Well, the free yoga classes weren’t bad.

Admittedly, Fama’s relaxation techniques are a great way to deal with the still tightening legal market and overall stress of the legal industry. But I can think of a great way to relieve student stress without resorting to mystical breathing techniques of the Orient.

Jobs.

So as Cardozo begins the search for a new Dean of Career Services, I have a recommendation. We’ve had a yoga instructor, and that was great. But this time, let’s try out a weightlifter.

Rather than teach students how to relax when we don’t get jobs, the next dean of career services should help students build the muscle necessary to shovel through the layers of bullshit it takes to get a job these days. We need a terrifying, muscle-bound dean to run around 55 5th ave, yelling at girlymen students about how they need to pump up their resumes. Instead of teaching students how to be flexible, Cardozo needs someone to help mold students into perfect specimens of legal Adonises. The point of law school is to get a law job. Cardozo should find someone who lives, eats and breathes the legal industry, and then turns it into a powder form that he can mix into a smoothie and jam it down students’ throats.

Law students are supposed to be adults who can take care of their own problems. But if OCS has demonstrated anything, it is that many students won’t take the proper job search steps without someone there to hold their hands. The next dean needs to embrace this duty with full intensity, taking those hands and forcing them to write cover letters until they have jobs, not unlike handcuffing a fat kid to a treadmill.

So as we 3L’s cross the stage at graduation, often jobless and in debt, I cannot help but wonder whether we, too, will one day match Dean Fama’s happiness.

Well, I may not have a job, but I wrote for the Cardozo Jurist. What did you ever do?

I wrote a column advocating a national holiday for lawyers

Another month, another Cardozo Jurist. Like usual, I had a column. This time, I wrote about how the real defenders of liberty and freedom aren’t in the military, they’re in law school.

Of course, Andrew Sinclair had the best retort: “You know Evan, not all lawyers defend liberty. The Obama Justice Department for example.” And then he went on a rant about John Yoo.

He is right, not all lawyers dedicate themselves to universal justice. But I would argue that the legal industry overall does a better job preserving the rights and liberties of U.S. citizens than the military does. So where is our holiday?

Without further ado, “Lawyers Deserve a National Holiday.” (pdf: Mintz Cardozo lawyer holiday)

 

Cigarettes are not magic, comma, don’t mess with Texas.

I wrote a column. The style reminds me a lot of my later work on the Thresher, where I had a point, but only through a layer of jokes or metaphors. I didn’t know what I was going to write for this issue, and then suddenly the topic came to me after the first day of the semester and I saw overflowing ash trays and cigarette butts all over the sidewalk in front of Cardozo. Honestly, majority of the time writing this column was spent trying to determine the perfect band to fit the tableau of a high school, weeknight concert. Some people recommended the Strokes, but I thought it was a bit too mainstream. Joy Division was too old. Republica, I think, was a good choice and also a subtle Venture Brothers reference.

Once I got through there, the rest flowed pretty well. The cigarette fairy part is stolen from Brett and Dan, though I think any jokes coming from 251 are officially joint works under WIPO. Honestly, this is a column I have been wanting to write since junior year at Rice, when we would mock the girls and their gay friend who smoked cigarettes outside the Hanszen servery, and then just throw their butts on the ground.

And the part about cigarettes as some Antionettian opulence is stolen directly from an IM conversation with Sara Franco.

Originally, the column had a different ending, but I wanted something punchier, and was reminded of an old commercial titled “Jimmy,” about a kid who just goes around collecting old cigarette butts. And it is nice to remember that Don’t Mess With Texas is an anti-littering campaign. Now only if fracking, or pollution, were considered littering.

Anyways, my column from this month’s Cardozo Jurist: Cigarettes are not magic, don’t mess with Texas. (pdf: Mintz cigarette texas column)

Another Evan Mintz column for the cardozo jurist, this time about littering

A paper I wrote for law school about KTRU and Internet Radio

For my Entertainment and Media Law class at Cardozo, I wrote a paper about the legal ramifications of Rice University selling the KTRU license and transmitter. I think it was an A- paper, which I suppose is pretty good. (The professors never responded with a direct grade for the paper, only for the overall class.) Anyways, here in the paper, in which I quote myself (pdf: Mintz KTRU legal) :

I. Introduction and History

A. Selling College Radio Stations

On December 5, 2010, the New York Times ran an article titled “Waning Support for College Radio Sets Off a Debate.”1 The article brought to national attention the problem of universities selling their college radio stations, notably addressing the recent controversies surrounding the sale of Rice University’s KTRU and Vanderbilt University’s WRVU. Since the article was published, Vanderbilt has not solidified any sale of its station. However, Rice University has continued with a sale marred by secrecy and controversy, and is currently waiting for the FCC to approve the license transfer that would allow the University of Houston to take over the frequency, turning KTRU into a classical music KUHC and the University of Houston’s current station KUHF into a 24-hour NPR station.2

Opponents of the sale have provided many reasons for their anger about and opposition to the sale. On the student and alumni side, Rice University has not provided any formal study justifying the sale and sold the station without discussion with the students and alumni who created and managed the station.3 The resulting sale will eliminate a source of media and broadcast education for students and will destroy a link with the surrounding city, local art establishment, and minority community, all contrary to the university’s previously stated goals.4

From the perspective of non-student or alumni opponents to the sale, removing KTRU from the airwaves would eliminate a unique, and award winning, source of music that cannot be found elsewhere in the local radio market.5 Furthermore, the secrecy of the deal was in potential violation of Texas’ Open Meetings Act.6

B. How Has the FCC Looked At Selling Radio Stations?

While monetary concerns, misleading university administrators, and musical aesthetics may make for good protest rhetoric, they do not make a cohesive legal argument against the sale of the KTRU frequency. In fact, in its Opposition to the Petition to Deny, Rice University specifically latched onto this framing of arguments against the transfer as programming-related arguments.7 From this perspective the Commission’s precedent is established: “the Commission does not scrutinize or regulate programming, nor does it take potential changes in programming formats into consideration in review assignment application.” 8

In the past the courts have scrutinized programming out of concern of preserving unique content on the airwaves. In Citizens Committee to Keep Progressive Rock v. F.C.C., the D.C. Circuit stated that it was “in the public interest, as that was conceived of by a Congress representative of all the people, for all major aspects of contemporary culture to be accommodated by the commonly-owned public resources whenever that is ethnically and economically feasible.” 9 While the court refused to distinguish between types of music — “one man’s Bread is the next man’s Bach” — it held that it was “in the public’s best interest to have all segments represented.”10 However, since 1977 the FCC has established that it would allow market forces to determine the broadcast station’s format.11 Furthermore, deregulation of the airwaves at the end of the Carter Administration and beginning of the Reagan Administration eliminated the 1971 Ascertainment Primer and the Renewal Primer that the court relied upon in Citizens Committee, creating less stringent requirements for license applications and renewals.12

While the FCC no longer concerns itself with the content of broadcasts, there is still the question of whether the specter of localism should influence the FCC’s approval of the KTRU sale. In this paper, I will address the concerns of localism as they apply in FCC regulations, and specifically look at Rice University’s recommendation in its Opposition to Petition to Deny that Internet radio over cellular phones serve as an adequate substitute for FM radio.13

II. Localism on the Radio

A. How Does Localism Apply?

1. Localism and KTRU

The Commission has in the past recognized localism as an important part of its charge. In its recent Report on Localism, the FCC has called the concept of localism “a cornerstone of broadcast regulation.” 14 As Friends of KTRU pointed out in its Petition to Deny, this localism mandate extends not just to the availability of a radio signal in a local community, but rather to the ability of that community to transmit issues of local importance over the airwaves and provide “their own media for local expression.”15 Indeed, the Commission has held that “broadcasters are obligated to operate their stations to serve the public interest — specifically, to air programming responsive to the needs and issues of the people in their communities of license.16 From the perspective of FCC rhetoric, KTRU supporters are in a proper position to argue that transferring the license would result in an important loss of local music and media. KTRU programs such as the Local Show, MK Ultra, Vinyl Frontier, Genetic Memory, and the Revelry Report showcase local artists and discuss issues specific to the Houston music community that cannot be found elsewhere on the local airwaves.17 Furthermore, KTRU also provides minority-oriented programing, such as Navrang, which focuses on music from the Indian subcontinent, and Africana, which focuses on music from the African diaspora. In a city where the Nigerian ex-patriot population totals more than 80,000 and more than 4 percent of the entire city population was born in Asia, these shows provide for the local community in ways that other FM stations do not.18 As the Commission instructs, “[t]he principle of localism requires broadcasters to take into account all significant groups within their communities when developing balanced, community-responsive programming, including those groups with specialized needs and interests.”19 These niche shows, with their local DJs, certainly are community-responsive. On the other hand, not one single program will be added to the station after the sale that will be specific to the local Houston community, only adding syndicated and national shows like BBC World News, the Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air With Terry Gross, BBC World Have Your Say, Talk of the Nation, The World, Beutche Welle Newslink Plus, Tell Me More, and The Story.20 Given the comparison between the station offerings before and after the sale, it seems like the transfer could be denied on localism grounds. However, the Commission has not always applied its ideals of localism in a strict manner.

2. Localism as applied by the FCC and Media Bureau

While rhetoric and written policy by the Commission has emphasized the importance of localism in broadcasting, this importance has not always transferred into enforceable rules. For example, in the case of the assignment of a license of a noncommercial educational station WQEX(TV), a coalition of public-interest groups petitioned to deny the application on the ground that proposed assignee’s broadcasts “would consist almost entirely of sales presentations, with little or no noncommercial local content.” 21 However, the Commission refused to consider the argument, explaining that “the courts and Commission have repeatedly rejected arguments that would require intrusion into the format choices of broadcast licensees.”22 While WQEX concerned application of television license, the FCC Media Bureau has applied similar rationale to FM radio licenses. In the case of C-SPAN’s application for assignment of an FM radio license, some listeners objected to assigning the license because it would change “WDCU(FM)’s current jazz format to a format dedicated primarily to public affairs and news programming.” 23 Other objectors argued that the grant of application was not in the public interest “because C-SPAN’s proposed national programming does not the problems, needs and interests of the [local community].24 However, the Media Bureau letter rebutted these arguments, stating that the Commission “‘has had the appropriately limited role of facilitating the development of the public broadcasting system rather than determining the content of its programming,’” and that under well-established precedent, rather than having to actually demonstrate how it responds to the community needs, “an applicant is required to provide only a brief narrative description of its proposed community issue-responsive service.”25 In the end, the Commission approved the license. Indeed, in a this case concerning sacrificing a music station for news, with similar arguments about localism and public interest, the FCC has made its position clear, leaving KTRU supporters with little legal recourse. However, comparing application in cases with FCC rhetoric still provides a mixed message.

3. FCC Report and Rhetoric on Localism

The FCC’s 2008 Report On Broadcast Localism And Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking spends several dozen pages lamenting the problem of a lack of localism in the broadcast spectrum. Specifically, it identified the problem of broadcasters failing to serve the interests of local communities in developing and promoting local artists and in fostering musical genres.26 The report also addressed the issue of licensees grossly overstating the amount of locally oriented news programming that they offer by including commercials, weather, sports, entertainment, video news releases, and redundancy, with locally produced public affairs programming almost entirely absent.27 Furthermore, the report found that significant groups within communities were not being taken into account by broadcasters when attempting to apply the principle of localism.28

FCC Commissioners have personally expressed concern about trends against localism in the broadcast marketplace. In an address to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps lamented the “homogenization and monotonous nationalized music at the expense of local and regional talent,” and proposed a system where a certain percent of programming is locally or independently produced.29 Former FCC Commissioner Rachelle Chong even used her Twitter feed to state support for KTRU and concern about the sale.30 So while past cases may not give much hope to KTRU supporters, FCC reports and statements from past and current commissioners may put enough pressure on the Media Bureau to take a hard look at localism concerns in the license transfer. However, in its Opposition to Petition to Deny, Rice University offered an alternative to assuage concerns about losing a unique and local source on the radio: Internet radio.

B. Is Internet Radio An Adequate Replacement for FM Radio?

In its Petition to Deny, KTRU stated that Web radio is not an adequate alternative to FM broadcast because it is not available in the car. Rice contends that this “ignores the increasing available of Web radio via cell phone.” 31 However, there are technological, monetary, and legal concerns as to whether Web radio over cell phones can replace FM radio for listeners.

1. Technological and Monetary Concerns

As of a Nov. 2010 report by Canalys, the most popular smartphone in the United States is the Apple iPhone, which has a 26.2 percent share of the U.S. market.32 The iPhone is currently available only on the AT&T network.33 AT&T’s high use, DataPro plan provides 2GB of data for $25 per month, and $10 for every additional 1GB.34 The average radio stream is 128 kilobits per second, equaling 16 kilobytes per second, equaling 57.6 megabytes per hour. By this math, it would take approximately 34.7 hours of listening to the radio per month to exceed the set data allotment by AT&T and incur additional charges. Merely a bit more than one hour of radio via an iPhone per day would use more data than what AT&T foresees in its highest use plan. In a city where the average commute is around 28 minutes, it is not difficult to imagine someone spending more than 34.7 hours listening to the radio in the car over the period of a month.35 Therefore, in addition to the one-time cost of purchasing an iPhone 4 for $199, or iPhone 3GS for $99, a regular KTRU listener would spend $25 per month to listen in the car, and an avid listener would spend $35 or more per month, meaning $300 or $420 per year. At the high end, this would require the average American to spend 15 percent more on entertainment than the current average annual expenditure of $2,698.36 This additional spending may be cost restrictive for many listeners. On the other hand, one can buy an FM radio for the one-time cost of $9.99.37 While Rice University may have an optimistic view about the ability of Web radio over cell phones to replace FM radio, crunching the numbers reveals that the hardware investment and price of use may make access overly cost restrictive for former KTRU fans. Unless the university is willing to help pay for listeners’ new cell phone bills, it may have an ill-informed perspective on current Internet costs and availability.

2. Legal Concerns

Even if there were not a monetary restriction on the ability of Web radio to replace FM radio, there is still a concern as to whether the FCC could justify eliminating a local source in the FM spectrum because it is otherwise available in the Internet. The Federal Communications Law Journal argues that inherent scarcity of the electromagnetic spectrum mandates that public interest obligations still remain enforced, stating that “despite the motley of other media outlets available-Internet radio, satellite radio, cable and digital television, and the like-the reason underlying such obligations in the first place is still present: electromagnetic spectrum is still scarce.”38 However, unlike various other media sources, radio’s pervasiveness in combination with its scarcity necessitates regulation. Furthermore, a strictly enforced market-based approach will only lead to, and arguably has led to, the creation of technology haves and have nots.39 Indeed, the cost restrictiveness of Web radio emphasizes the public interest charge of the FCC.

However, the FCC has addressed new technology supplanting old broadcasting in the realm of television. Currently, cable systems must carry the signals of local commercial and noncommercial broadcast stations in their local markets, while satellite carriage of local broadcasts is only required in Alaska and Hawaii.40 The FCC has expressed concern that in a small group of cases, the system used to define local broadcast stations results in the required carriage of the broadcast signal of an out-of-state station rather than an in-state station, potentially weakening localism.41 This concern demonstrates that the underpinnings of the must- carry requirements is the protection of localism. If Web radio, or satellite radio, were to serve as an adequate alternative to FM radio, the FCC should first create similar must-carry regulations for telecom providers and satellite radio companies to ensure that localism is not weakened. However, these regulations do not yet exist. Without guarantees of a must-carry provision, the same sort that were imposed on the cable industry as it replaced broadcast television, alternate radio sources cannot serve as a proper guarantors of localism.

III. Conclusion

The rise of Internet music and the perceived declining importance of radio, combined with an economic downturn, has led many universities to sell their college radio stations. The plight of Rice University’s KTRU has risen to prominence as fans and staff of the student-created and student-run, award-winning station have moved from usual campus protests to legal appeals in an attempt to stop the sale of the station. While FCC publications and commissioners’ rhetoric have emphasized the importance of localism, legal precedent does not give KTRU supporters much in the way of support. However, Rice University’s recommendation that the Internet serve as a proper alternative does not stand up to scrutiny. Monetary restrictions and lacking must- carry requirements prevent the Web from serving as a proper replacement for FM radio.

1 John Vorwald, Waning Support for College Radio Sets Off a Debate, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 5, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.coml2010/12/06Ibusiness/medial06stations.html.

2 Chris Gray, KTRU Sale Now Totally In FCC’s Hands, HOUSTON PRESS, Dec. 20, 2010, available at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2010/12/ktru_sale_now_totally_in_fccs.php.

Save KTRU made it to the New York Times, BURN DOWN BLOG, Dec. 5, 2010, available at http://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/save-ktru-made-it-to-the-new-york-times/

BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates V2C, BURN DOWN BLOG, Aug. 17, 2010, available at http://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/burn-down-rice-selling-ktru- violates-the-v2c/

Ibid.

6 Steve Miller, KTRU radio station not named in generic Regents meeting agenda; descriptions must be specific under Open Meetings Act, TEXAS WATCHDOG, Aug. 19, 2010, available at http:// http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2010/08/-generic-agenda-item-for-regents-meeting-did-not-name-ktru/ 1282261406.column

7 Rice Opposition at 2.

Application for Assignment of License of WQXR-FM, Letter, 24 FCC Rcd 11761, 11762 (2009).

Citizens Committee to Keep Progressive Rock v. F.C.C., 478 F.2d 926, 929 (D.C. Cir., 1973).

10 Ibid. at 929.

11 Changes in Entertainment Formats of Broadcast Stations, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Docket No. 20682, 60 FCC 2d 858, 863 (1976).

12 In the Matter of Deregulation of Radio, Report and Order, Docket No. 79-219, 84 F.C.C.2d 968, 971 (1981).

13 Rice Opposition at 7.

14 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 5 (2008).

15 Petition, citing Utica Observer-Dispatch, Inc., 11 F.C.C. 383, 391-92 (1946).

16 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 6

17 Petition at 10.

18 Ibid. at 11; Reply to Oppositions at 10.

19 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 69.

20 Petition at 12-13.

21 Application of WQED Pittsburgh (Assignor) and Cornerstone Television, Inc. (Assignee) for Consent to the Assignment of LIcense of Noncommercial Educational Station WQEX(TV), Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 202, 231 ¶57 (1999), vacated in part on other grounds by 15 FCC Rcd 2534 (2000).

22 Ibid. at 232 ¶ 57.

23 Application for Assignment of License of WDCU(FM), Letter, 12 FCC Rcd 15242, 15244 (1997).

24 Ibid. at 15244.

25 Ibid. at 15244-15245, citing Revision of Programming Policies and Reporting Requirements Related to Public Broadcasting Licensees, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 87 FCC 2d 716, 732 (1981); Report and Order, 98 FCC 2d 746 (1984); Request for Declaratory Ruling Concerning Programming Information in Broadcast Applications for Construction Permits, Transfers and Assignments, 3 FCC Rcd 5467, 5467-5468 (1988).

26 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 35.

27 Ibid. at ¶ 37.

28 Ibid. at ¶ 69.

29 FCC’s Copps Proposes Public Value Test for License Renewal, RADIO, Dec. 3, 2010, available at http://www.radiomagonline.com/fcc/fcc-copps-public-value-test-license-renewal-1203/ index.html.

30 Growing opposition to the KTRU sale OR Know Your FCC Commissioners,BURN DOWN BLOG, Nov. 15, 2010, available at https://burndownblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/growing- opposition-to-the-ktru-sale/.

31 Rice opposition at 7.

32 Tim Stevens, Canalys: iPhone becomes most popular smartphone in the US, Android continues as most popular OS, ENGADGET, Nov. 1, 2010, available at http://www.engadget.com/ 2010/11/01/canalys-iphone-becomes-most-popular-smartphone-in-the-us-andro/.

33 http://www.att.com/wireless/iphone/ (iPhone is configured to work only with the wireless services provided by AT&T.)

34 http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/data-plans.jsp.

35 Stephen Ohlemacher, Believe it or not, average communting time drops, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Aug. 30, 2006, available at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/ 4152068.html.

36 How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck, VISUAL ECONOMICS, available at http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck.

37 http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICF-S10MK2-Pocket-Radio-Silver/dp/B00020S7XK

38 Deliberative Democracy on the Air: Reinvigorate Localism – Resuscitate Radio’s Subversive Past, 63 Fed. Comm. L.J. 141, 188.

39 Ibid. at 190. 40 Report on Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 1234 ¶ 47, 48. 41 Ibid. at ¶ 49.

 

Flashback Fridays: Nuclear Bongs, North Korea, and Pot at Cardozo

[EDIT: As seen on Above the Law]

Last month North Korea launched a small attack against a South Korean island. This was probably North Korea’s biggest provocation since its (failed?) test of a nuclear weapon. At the time, I referenced this event with a Rice Thresher Backpage titled: North Colleges Test Nuclear Bong. (pdf: North Colleges Test Nuclear Bong)

James Baker asked for an original copy of this Backpage.

I was rather proud of the Backpage at the time. The original drafts were a little too blunt (haha!) with some of the pot jokes, but then EIC David Brown helped smooth them out. In a depressing turn, apparently some Rice students did not quite get that map of Rice was supposed to be in the shape of North and South Korea, with North and South colleges at appropriate ends. But perhaps worse, some students didn’t even realize that was a map of Rice. Maybe if you don’t know what to look for, it is hard to see. Oh well.

Anyways, this Backpage is rather appropriate for a flashback this week. The Korean conflict may be a bit tardy, but it does demonstrate my habit of writing pot-related columns that will surely damn attempts at finding a job. Just this month, I wrote a column for The Cardozo Jurist about how the law school should provide free marijuana for students. It is supposed to be a satirical reaction to the law school’s new restrictions on alcohol and alcohol advertising, and also to the study aids pills that are normally popular during finals. And I’m sure I made some other points in the column, which you most certainly will find to be an exemplar of Swiftian wit. (pdf: Mintz cardozo jurist pot article)

However, this column is not the only reason why that Backpage was appropriate for this flashback friday. At the time, James Baker had just released a new book, titled: “Work Hard, Study…and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life.” I used the occasion to mock one of Rice’s resident talking clubs, the Baker Institute Student Forum, which did a very good job of discussing current events and then handing out name tags at Baker Institute speaking events.

Anyways, apparently James Baker’s wife, Susan Baker, has just written a book titled Passing It On. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle about her new book, Mrs. Baker demonstrated that either she is hilarious, or just doesn’t care anymore, or funny third thing, as she used the interview as an opportunity to talk about her sex life with the former Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, and Chief of Staff James Baker. I guess she wanted him to do to her what he did to the country during the 2000 election recount. (My jokes are so funny and topical!)

“I used to think I needed to be a good supportive wife, so I shouldn’t fuss or stomp around or be angry. But holding all that in makes you emotionally sick. So I started expressing my feelings. Jimmy was surprised at first, but over time, it gave him a new respect for me, and without a doubt deepened our relationship.”

She pauses for a second.

“Thank heavens for good sex. It can get you through a lot.”

I doubt that James Baker would request the original version of whatever Backpage is associated with this recent news event. As Tim Faust put it: The Baker Institute for Pubic Policy. Zing!

The Anti-Defamation League, American Jews, and John Bolton’s Mustache

Last month, the Anti-Defamation League held a conference at Cardozo featuring famed mustache-haver John Bolton. I am not entirely sure why Bolton was there. He is not Jewish. According to Wikipedia, he is a Lutheran. But beyond this, he does not seem to have any actual experience concerning Judaism.

This is how most people see John Bolton

This is how the Anti-Defamation League sees John Bolton

Even ignoring my concern that ADL focuses too much on Israel rather than overarching Judaism, it seems a bit odd that the ADL would invite such a divisive political figure. I could explain why this would be a bad thing, but why say when you can show: (pdf: bolton ADL cardozo fight)

Leaving out Bolton’s actual policy positions, one cannot deny that he is a divisive political figure and a living totem of the controversial cowboy style diplomacy of the Bush administration. Touting Bolton as an ADL ally sends a message to liberal Jews (aka, most Jews) that the ADL is not a the organization for them. At Cardozo, this message was put into action when someone in the audience chewed out a young woman for expressing her difficulty reconciling liberal leanings with the conservative agents supporting Israel.

I guess you could say she was defamed to a certain extent. Irony!

Right now, the ADL is riding on its history and reputation. But scandals like this, and ADL chief Abe Foxman’s own controversial moments, risk damaging this important organization beyond repair. If the ADL keeps up like this, it will lose a generation of American Jews. And that is the actual problem (pdf: Mintz ADL column):

America is slowly losing its Jewish population. If the ADL actually cared about Judaism, it would work to create an atmosphere in the United States where young Jews feel proud of their heritage. However, pride is not exactly what one feels when the ADL condemns Borat, or Jewish settlers throw stones at IDF soldiers for protecting Palestinians. If the ADL wants to help protect Jewry in the long run, it should focus on projects that help make more Jews and keep current Jews Jewish, rather than play up divisive political projects.

Certainly Israel faces threats. But Israel has done a good job standing for itself. The ADL should perhaps worry about Jewish problems at home — the problems facing the American Jews at the ADL’s own panels.

Another Evan column, and a reaction from the Dean

First, thanks to Roxanna Maisel, whose line “I know lots of things, but most of them are wrong,” I stole for this column.

The Cardozo Jurist came out yesterday, and I have another column in it. Because the paper only comes out monthly, each column needs to be a real barn burner. No time to waste precious column space on pot or masturbating. I have a list of the big wheels at the law school, and each column will address one. Last month was the Dean, this month is law journals. And you can read all about it at the Jurist website! Or here. Or whatever. (pdf: Mintz oct column)

In addition to my column, the Dean wrote a response to my column from the previous issue, in which I accused him of general cowardice when it came to gay rights. Of course my column was mean, blunt and over the top. It was written by me, Evan! However, it does raise the question of whether gay rights should be viewed as a political matter or as one of civil and human rights. I think that it unequivocally should be the latter, and there is no room for compromise. A general written statement does not have the authority of a public statement, which I guess the Dean made in this letter. So I’m glad I could force him into that position, or some such.

Also, notice the redesign of the newspaper! It looks pretty darn cool. They finally bought inDesign.

In which our hero again writes for a student newspaper

For those who didn’t see, I had a column in the September issue of the Cardozo Jurist. Mostly, I call out the Dean for trying to find the middle ground in a debate where there should be no middle ground. (pdf: Mintz Diller jurist column 9-10)

Last year, bubbling below the normal Sturm und Drang of law school, the issue of homosexuality at Cardozo was a constant thread waiting to erupt into scandal. The problem began with a letter from Yeshiva University president Richard M. Joel reacting to an undergraduate forum on homosexuality in the Orthodox world. In essence, the letter instructed gays to stay in the closet. The problem continued through Dean Diller’s unwillingness to assert Cardozo’s secular stance against discrimination. As students sat in their caps and gowns this past graduation, Diller probably hoped that the equality badges on some students’ arms would be the last of this scandal. But, the world does not live by Dean Diller’s hopes.

Over the summer, a group of more than 100 Modern Orthodox rabbis, educators, and doctors in Israel and the United States signed a “Statement of Principles” in direct reaction to that Yeshiva University forum. The Statement explained, “all human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” and that “embarrassing, harassing or demeaning homosexuals is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.” Furthermore, while the Statement said that Jewish law still condemns same-sex marriages, it instructed Jewish communities to “embrace the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting.” Despite the signing of this Statement, the controversy is still not dead, and Cardozo still has to face the extent to which it will publicly embrace the gay community.

In light of all this, Dean Diller probably imagines himself some great negotiator. On one hand, Cardozo maintains a policy that is certainly positive towards the gay community. We hire gay faculty and administrators, have talks about issues pertaining to the gay community, and overall seem like any other law school. However, to outside observers, Cardozo still refuses to assert its secular basis and a policy distinctly separate from the religious institutions of Yeshiva University. Oh, what a balance Diller has achieved. He has appeased students and faculty by maintaining a pro-gay policy within the walls of 55 Fifth Avenue. However, to outside observers and the black hat donors, Cardozo is in lockstep with Yeshiva’s religious policy. Like Lyndon Johnson, he has negotiated civil rights while maintaining the approval of his various political constituencies.

But Cardozo is no U.S. Senate and Diller is no Johnson. He is the Dean of a second tier law school who doesn’t have the guts to stand up and say that while there are religious justifications to deny equal rights to the gay community, the secular institution that is Cardozo is not bound by them. All gay panels, gay administrators, and gay clubs will not have the same effect as actively stating that Cardozo does not and will not discriminate.

Diller is trying to talk out of both sides of his mouth. But as anyone knows, you cannot really talk out of both sides at once. At one point, you have to decide who you’re talking to and who you’re spitting on. And given a three-year student turnover, he probably has no problem spitting all over the students.

The issue regarding gay rights has not died over the summer. From the Orthodox “Statement of Principles” to Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the march for gay rights continues. Hopefully, this semester, Diller will let the march for gay rights set foot inside Cardozo, and let the world, and Yeshiva University, know that it is allowed inside.

The column is somewhat ironic. I was opinion editor of the Thresher during the Prop 2 vote in Texas, which was a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or anything resembling it. During this time Ryan Goodland was leading the fight on campus against the amendment, while the Queers and Allies, or whatever the club was called then, basically did nothing. Ryan had written a column for the Thresher about it, and wanted to write another. I was hesitant to let another column on the topic run without some sort of counterbalance or opposing viewpoint.

“Evan,” as I recall him saying. “If someone wanted to run an anti-fascism column, would you insist on a column talking about how fascism isn’t so bad?”

In a few decades, people will look back at the gay marriage political battle with a similar attitude as those who look back at the ’60s’ civil rights battles. Heck, one only has to look back 6 short years to 2004 to find political rhetoric and policy about gay marriage that seems completely repulsive in a current light.

Cardozo is trying to find a middle. It should be on the forefront.

I speculated on the Sexuality of Supreme Court Justices before it was cool

Is Elena Kagan a gay? Thats the question that people all over the nation aren’t asking, but are insinuating to the point of preposterousness. Luckily, Gawker has put together a summary of the insinuations that Kagan is a lesbian:

The Haircut: Its not business short, its lesbian short.

She’s never been married: No even Sotomayor style where she got engaged but it broke apart.

She opposed don’t ask, don’t tell: Because civil liberties are totally gay

She played softball: Also, she played on the Supreme Court clerk’s basketball team

She wears plaid flannel: The only pictures we have of her not in a business suit, or dressed as a judge for her high school yearbook, are her in plaid flannel

She never denies that she’s a lesbian: Because its true

She’s a former student newspaper editor with the nickname “shorty“: Because anyone with those qualities is a total fag.

However, while all this speculation about Kagan’s sexuality is fun and a great way to fill the 24-hour news cycle, its old news. I was doing all this before it was cool, speculating about the sexuality of our first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, Benjamin N. Cardozo, in the Cardozo Jurist (PDF: cardozo some kind of sexual):

“As the news of Yeshiva University’s appalling attitude towards homosexuality spreads throughout Cardozo, students should be shocked, but not for the reason they may think. Sure, there is the hypocrisy of a historically discriminated demographic attempting to stifle another historically discriminated demographic. Not to mention an attitude towards homosexuality that seems more at home in Iran. But what makes the whole situation so shocking is the sheer irony is that it’s occurring at a university that named its law school after Benjamin N. Cardozo, a man whose own sexual orientation is quite questionable.

Admittedly, it is not academically honest to impose contemporary concepts of sexuality upon other times, cultures or societies. Furthermore, facts about Cardozo’s sexual orientation are limited to what is documented in the historical record, which is unfortunately sparse due to Cardozo’s private nature. However, it is not too much of a stretch to say that Cardozo was some sort of a sexual, and it ain’t hetero.

So while there is no direct evidence proving Cardozo’s sexual orientation, there is hearsay and conjecture, which are kinds of evidence.

As far as the current historical consensus says, Cardozo can join Isaac Newton among history’s famous life-long virgins. However, that does not mean he was never interested in women. In fact, he was very interested in one: his sister, Nellie. According to Richard Polenberg’s book on Cardozo, our namesake judge admitted that he “never could give Nellie the second place” in his life. This sort of sibling devotion would seem out of place in the Osmond family, let alone in an established New York, Jewish aristocracy.

Then again, this devotion to his sister may have been exaggerated by Cardozo’s friends. However, they did not tell these tales to spread rumors about Cardozo’s deviant sexuality. On the contrary, they spread the rumors to create an excuse for his non-traditional sexual habits. These are the very same friends who often described Cardozo as beautiful, exquisite and sensitive. Or as Seinfeld would put it in an outdated reference: thin, single and neat. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Even as a child, Cardozo was personally tutored by Horatio Alger, who himself was haunted by accusations of homosexuality and pederasty. One might as well say that Cardozo enjoyed spending his salad days drinking wine with the priest from Doubt.

On the other hand, Judge Learned Hand is quoted as saying that Cardozo had “no trace of homosexuality anyway.” But that doesn’t really count because Learned Hand never even made it to the Supreme Court.

Indeed, a smattering of anecdotes does not mean that Cardozo would have been the president of OUTlaw at turn of the century Columbia. However, one must admit that Cardozo’s sexual history does not conform to contemporary standards of heteronormativity. In fact, the best way to describe Cardozo’s personal life would be: queer.

In the end, historical density and Cardozo’s own privacy make his sexuality a question that will never get a definitive answer. But this mysteriousness does not mean it should never be discussed, shoved in a corner because of a perverted sense of “modesty.” Cardozo’s personal history is not something that should be treated in a discreet manner just because it may ruffle some issues of sensitivity. Academic integrity demands that universities leave no stone unturned and no question unasked in the constant adventure of academia. However, if President Joel and Rabbi Reiss have their way, we would halt at the first sense of discomfort, never leaving sight of the intellectual shore. And if that is how the current administration wants to run Yeshiva, and Cardozo, then they should put it in the prospective student paraphernalia, because that is not the sort of law school I signed up for.”

Now, as I have become accustomed to, my column received an angry response the rhetoric of which hints that the author either did not read the entire column or simply didn’t get the point. Given the string of factual rebuttals in the response, this one is probably in the latter category. (PDF: Reject Cardozo sexuality 1, Reject Cardozo Sexuality 2)

Despite the actual titles, I believe a more accurate headline would have been “Response to Evan: Nuh-uh!” Read the whole thing if you want, but it can be summed up with one line:

“With all due respect to Mr. Mintz, to advance such a provocative idea only to then ultimately plead historical inscrutability is an act of intellectual dishonesty.”

Of course it is intellectual dishonesty! I admit to that in my second paragraph:

“Admittedly, it is not academically honest to impose contemporary concepts of sexuality upon other times, cultures or societies.”

Of course its not intellectually honest, but its also lots of fun!

In the end, my column was not an academic paper, it was a column in the student newspaper, with the purpose of making a point and possibly be entertaining. Thus is the essence of punditry (?).

In conclusion, Kagan is just as gay as Cardozo.

EDIT: They’re also both Jewish, which is as close as you can get to being gay without being Asian or French.

I wrote a thing for the Jurist. If you don’t go to Cardozo, you won’t care.

I have a column in this month’s Jurist, the student newspaper at Cardozo. It is about how the Office of Career Services funds summer stipends for students who work at nonprofits. You could read it on the Jurist website, but its not up yet. So instead, read it here! Direct from the newspaper.

You probably don't care about this at all

jurist PILSA funding

A problem with so much of my writing is that it is hyperlocal. Who the hell cares about how the OCS distributes summer stipends at Cardozo. The system doesn’t even affect  all the students at Cardozo, let alone anyone else. Luckily, I believe that the Thresher made a similar commentary in the 2006 Trasher, which I suppose isn’t related to the Thresher. But it is. Anyways, here’s Amber Obermeyer McCullagh and Nathan Black’s “Another long-ass policy editorial no one will read.”

Other people on the Thresher were way funnier than I was.

Long-ass policy editorial in the 2006 Trasher

Anyways, that’s what I do these days for a newspaper: hyper-specific commentary about topics only the closely associated care about. Twitter and the expansion of hyper-local news coverage is probably the best thing that could happen to me.