A local issue

Postby mwchase » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:54 am

This has been bothering me today, since some fridge logic hit me. I'd like opinions on the general situation I'm about to outline, since bringing in specifics could obscure the things that are bothering me.

In the last few days, my university had its yearly ballot stuff available. One of the things we were supposed to vote on concerned accusations of illegal activity by the university.

Specifically, the university has definitely been engaged in an activity that may be illegal. There's been lots of controversy over whether it is, and lots of mudslinging. The point is, the student body was asked to vote on whether to cease the activity in question.

Is it just me, or is that somewhat irregular? Surely, the proper course of action would be to consult with a lawyer. If the activity is legal, then it may continue. If it is illegal, then it should stop, no matter what the majority of students think.

Am I looking at this right?
GENERATION -9+i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

"the worlds of our imagination have really confusing rail service."
User avatar
mwchase
Kumquat Class Sensei

  Offline
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:27 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby Coda » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:14 am

The vote makes sense if it's merely controversial, not illegal. Otherwise... yeah, that's bizarre.
User avatar
Coda
Magickal Melon 666

  Offline
 
Posts: 762
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:19 pm
Location: Holy crap, Coda set an avatar

Re: A local issue

Postby Zilla » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:36 pm

Hmm, it depends on the nature of the act that is "illegal."

If it's some kind of protest, or civil disobedience, and the institute is private, then, perhaps it's not all that weird after all! It'd be really cool to have a university-backed social movement!
Zilla
Blueberry Class

  Offline
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby Idiot Glee » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:38 am

What exactly is the activity in question?

Is the library copying CD's?
Are the chemistry professors running a meth lab?
Is the ROTC program planning a violent takeover of the Poli. Sci. program with the assistance of the theology program?
Hello!

And, "One thing there's no getting by—
I've been a wicked girl," said I;
"But if I can't be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!"

-Millay
User avatar
Idiot Glee
1000 Post Forum Master!

  Offline
 
Posts: 1110
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:26 pm
Location: Here

Re: A local issue

Postby mwchase » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:56 pm

(*gack* The instant I go offline for a day, the forum lights up. Geez...)

I go to a public university, is the thing.

Now, I was intentionally vague before because I wanted people to consider the subset of the facts that I felt were relevant, namely:

The university definitely does this activity.
Certain groups are for it, and some groups are against.
The groups against claim to have a rock-solid case that the activity is illegal.
For some reason, instead of getting a lawyer to just force the university to change things, they've asked the student body to vote on whether the policies in question should be changed.

I don't really see how that's a sensible course of action.

Details: The Student Government Association's Senate branch has a group of senators called the ALANA Caucus, which represents the interests of various minority groups. Some conservative students claim that the Caucus's existence violates the fourteenth amendment. (I think this is because Caucus members are appointed by the Student Governor of each area of campus, instead of elected, but I'm not sure. People seem too busy mudslinging to explain why they're slinging mud.) After a buttload of drama that was completely invisible to students not following student government issues, or reading the right blogs, the conservative students in question have gotten the issue onto the ballot, instead of having a lawyer just tell the university to abolish the Caucus.

Like I said, I was worried that knowing the specifics could color perceptions about this issue. According to cursory research online, everyone who voted yes on this question is a beer-swilling troglodyte Klansman with no respect for due process, and everyone who voted no is a coked-out welfare leech who gets their jollies from subverting democracy. Or something like that.
GENERATION -9+i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

"the worlds of our imagination have really confusing rail service."
User avatar
mwchase
Kumquat Class Sensei

  Offline
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:27 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:13 pm

The 14th Amendment, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution is a VERY strange thing to use to oppose a caucus designed to protect the rights of minorities. This smacks of bigotry and fear, frankly.

Here's the deal: there is what is legal, and there is what is just. They are not the same thing, and are often vastly separated.

In my home state of Washington, it is illegal, still, to sell lollipops of any kind, yet such candy is sold everywhere. The law is stupid, and nobody enforces it. It is a relic from the past. I can't find out why it was made (possibly to protect the private interests of some rich candy making bastard), but it is still on the books. It is law, but it is unjust, and stupid.

Only a jackass would try to push such a thing to be enforced. A jackass who was heavily invested in chocolate sales, say, who wanted to force out hard candy competition. This is how many laws are made, and why many legal battles are fought. Not for justice, not for social benefit, but for base profit or for the narrow ideology of some rich group.

How can you tell if the pressure to block some minority or marginal group using existing law (or some prototype new law) is the work of asshats?

Look at who benefits, why they benefit, and who will be hurt. Frankly, make it even simpler: does anyone get HURT? Look for someone getting hurt, damaged, or shut up. If anyone is, then the effort is unjust. Wrong. Bad... even if it is legal as hell.

This minority caucus thing - they look out for the interests of minority students, right? Some sort of means to have a voice, right? That sounds pretty OK. That sounds like a proper, decent thing, based on what you offer. Minorities suffer greatly, they often have little voice, and the crap that they endure has real world, physical effects. Real hurt.

The conservative effort to shut that caucus down; it exists to shut them up, right? The conservatives are invoking the oddest choice of law to take away any power that caucus might give minorities, basically, is that it? Even if there is some way they could twist or bend the 14th Amendment to somehow support such a position, which would be just... bizarre... even if it was deemed 'legal', how could it be just? Good? Right? It can't.

In order to understand the world, one needs to get past the notion that 'legality' is in any way automatically good, kind, worthy, just, or even useful. All 'law' provides is a social mechanism to permit the use of force -ultimately, always the gun- in such a way that most folks will go along with the gag. This social contract for the use of force is ripe for abuse, and is abused quite a lot, and has always been abused, and likely always will.

'Legal' is not synonymous with right or good or true. It really isn't anything at all. It's all just made up. The only reason 'law' carries weight is because there are people willing to accept money to use up-to-deadly force to push it on others. The law doesn't have to make sense, or even be about the subject at hand - provided one can manipulate the system - some judge somewhere - to go along with a given interpretation (however insane).

I think a person should always do and pursue what is just, kind, and useful, whether or not it is legal - within reason. Reason being defined as recognition that being forced into jail at gunpoint, or just being gunned down, is pretty much a failure state whatever the cause.

Sometimes the only way to do what is right is to openly oppose the law.

Excuse me while I go purchase a lollipop in Olympia.
Jennifer Diane Reitz
'Giniko-chan'
Image
User avatar
Jennifer Diane Reitz
Creatrix

  Offline
 
Posts: 1218
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:25 am
Location: Olympia, Washington

Re: A local issue

Postby Zilla » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:25 pm

That is pretty weird actually, that the guys who want to close it are the one doing the petition and voting. I thought it was the college who was running the voting process, to see if they should continue. It's strange that they are taking that approach.
Zilla
Blueberry Class

  Offline
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby mwchase » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:45 pm

I might not have explained that properly. Basically, the Student Government here held voting for various positions recently. In addition, there was voting on various things that would affect students. One of them was, IIRC, an environmental project that would incur a small per-student fee increase (which I voted for), and the other was this petition, which was, I think, spearheaded by a group of conservative senators.

I think that's about what happened, though I feel like I left something out. I'll be sure to report how the vote turns out, once I hear.
GENERATION -9+i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

"the worlds of our imagination have really confusing rail service."
User avatar
mwchase
Kumquat Class Sensei

  Offline
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:27 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby draque » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:17 am

Just or not, I don't think that the reasoning behind using the 14th amendment to the constitution to oppose a student minority group holds any water (although I would be very interested to read over the justification for the 14th amendment being used).

Here's the text of the amendment, which I'll address in a bulleted fashion.

old dudes wrote:Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


    -Section 1. No student organization that I know of has the power to do anything to call into question a student's citizenship or to deny them rights otherwise granted by the constitution, access to a court or enforce unequal protection under law. I don't see why one devoted to minority students would do so for either its members, or those who are not members.

    -Section 2. This section is super sexist and doesn't guarantee the right to representation to some people (those between 18 and 21) who are old enough to be drafted into war... but has nothing to do with anything that might be applied to a student group in this scenario. It is simply a guarantee of representation in state/national government, which a student body is not.

    -Section 3. Unless members of the student organization have committed insurrection, rebellion against the government or given aid and comfort in time of war to an enemy of the state, this can't even be applied tenuously to the situation. It seems unlikely that any have.

    -Section 4. This bears relation exclusively to matters directly dealing with national debt (primarily monetary debt to its own citizens). I can't see how that would be related to student government.

    -Section 5. Has someone in the student organization stopped Congress from enforcing the amendment? That's the only way this section might apply.

Anyhow, regardless of what problem the counter-groups might have, I don't understand at all why they would use the 14th amendment. Given that it seems to have absolutely no relation to what they're trying to do away with, it's just confusing. It's like demanding that a police officer arrest someone for driving a car because flying a plane without a license is a crime.
User avatar
draque
Watermelon Graduate

  Offline
 
Posts: 907
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:57 am
Location: <=CLEVER-LOCATION=>

Re: A local issue

Postby mwchase » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:34 am

Well, given that they had us vote on it, it's more like asking a paramedic to etc.

I grabbed one of the files they wanted people to read over before voting. Any good ideas as to where I should put it up, so anyone who's interested can see for themselves?

I don't know... I might be about to phrase this really badly, but it seems to me that there are some situations where direct democracy doesn't make sense. One is this, where students were asked to vote on what was supposed to be exclusively a legal matter. Another is Prop 8, which Californians were incited to vote for by commercials detailing the horrific, life-changing consequences* of leaving the law as it had been already. What I'm trying to get at is, in both cases, the thrust of the voting is the interpretation of a law: "Is this constitutional, yes or no." I can't have stumbled upon any kind of principle here, so there's got to be a counterexample, but really, isn't interpretation of the law a judicial thing, that requires stuff like... citations... and record-keeping? I seem to have woken up too recently to be coherent, sorry.

*May not be actual consequences.
GENERATION -9+i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

"the worlds of our imagination have really confusing rail service."
User avatar
mwchase
Kumquat Class Sensei

  Offline
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:27 pm

Re: A local issue

Postby Tychomonger » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:07 pm

As I understand it, representative democracy is specifically designed to mitigate the problems direct democracy has with these sorts of situations. When it comes to protecting the rights of a minority group, a simple majority vote will almost always vote to the detriment of the minority. I believe this is referred to as the "tyranny of the majority". The idea behind representative democracy is that you as a group pick someone who agrees with many of the things you think are important. That person is then expected to put a lot of thought into how he votes on things, taking not only the opinions of those he represents into account, but also to consider the justness of what he votes on himself. Because of his concentrated power, we can place greater demands for rationality on this representative than we can on any given Joe the Plumber, and have ways of replacing a representative who belies their incompetency. (I think this theory is known as elitism in political science)

I think the reason this has been brought up to a popular vote is because they do not actually have a legal leg to stand on, and are hoping that they can instead use popular opinion to get the job done.
Hello!
Aealacreatrananda wrote:When I envision a far far future.... I don't fuck around.

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff.
--The Doctor
User avatar
Tychomonger
Watermelon Graduate

  Offline
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:13 pm
Location: Beside myself

Re: A local issue

Postby Alfador » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:46 am

Tychomonger wrote:As I understand it, representative democracy is specifically designed to mitigate the problems direct democracy has with these sorts of situations. When it comes to protecting the rights of a minority group, a simple majority vote will almost always vote to the detriment of the minority. I believe this is referred to as the "tyranny of the majority". The idea behind representative democracy is that you as a group pick someone who agrees with many of the things you think are important. That person is then expected to put a lot of thought into how he votes on things, taking not only the opinions of those he represents into account, but also to consider the justness of what he votes on himself. Because of his concentrated power, we can place greater demands for rationality on this representative than we can on any given Joe the Plumber, and have ways of replacing a representative who belies their incompetency. (I think this theory is known as elitism in political science)

I think the reason this has been brought up to a popular vote is because they do not actually have a legal leg to stand on, and are hoping that they can instead use popular opinion to get the job done.


...just like Prop 8. :P
Arf! *wagwagwag*
User avatar
Alfador
1000 Post Forum Master!

  Offline
 
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:29 am
Location: Kirkland, WA

Re: A local issue

Postby Wizard CaT » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:33 pm

The answer is Student Government is a joke :rofl:
~Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk's flight on the empty sky.~ The Creation of Éa
Damn you Clemson University, you deleted the 'sploding Kay that Etherwings uploaded eons ago!
User avatar
Wizard CaT
Watermelon Graduate

  Offline
 
Posts: 904
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:32 pm
Location: Earth


Return to The Political Arena

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron