The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

It's Just Lunch....or IS IT??

Friday, May 06, 2005

FIRE THIS CLERK

Footnote 1 of USA v. Murphy (opinion by Judge Evans, of the Seventh Circuit) is as follows:

1. The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called
her a snitch bitch "hoe." A "hoe," of course, is a tool used for
weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar
with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's
response. We have taken the liberty of changing "hoe" to "ho," a
staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris
raps "You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies."

What a disgrace. Let me start by saying first, there is long tradition of legal opinions citing to important works of art. Second, I have no problem with clerks trying to spice up their miserable, self-important lives by planting funny little references in their opinions.

Here's my problem with the opinion, which is making the rounds at every law school in the country (footnote 1 is the gravamen of the excitement..but you can find the whole opinion here for now). First, Ludacris sucks. He has no business being referenced in the lofty halls of the Seventh Circuit. Second, calling use of the word "ho" a "staple of rap music vernacular" reeks of white-boy suburban arrogance. Many, many black people have serious misgivings about the treatment of women in mainstream hip-hop. It is by no means uncontroversial or settled lexiconography that the word "ho" is acceptable or tolerated. Especially in the context of confirming a criminal conviction, you'd think that someone in the editing process would have a little more restraint. Finally, there's no doubt in my mind that that smart-ass clerk who wrote this is the one who started all the emails. Congratulations, dick. We're all proud that you are so "cool."

So anonymous clerk...think before you write next time. I know that all these affirmed criminal convictions tend to blend together, but some poor bastard is going to jail...and you used that as an opportunity to show your law school buddies how much power you have and how you're still "keeping it real."

Also, the writing style is just shoddy. I thought this was a hoax after reading the line "Hayden was smoking crack with three other folks at a trailer park home on Chain of Rocks Road in Granite City, Illinois." I've read enough cases to know that that line is supposed to be "Hayden, along with three associates, was smoking crack cocaine at a trailer park home..." I mean, why not go the whole nine yards and say they were "smokin the criz-zack."

30 Comments:

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAKE BACK what you said about Ludacris! k.ruff

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone's wound a little tight this finals season

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger JS said...

Hey, I just hope that the privileged folks at the seventh circuit would have the same respect for diversity as I bring to The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party. We are all Gaia's children. Except for Ludacris, he's a two-bit hack.

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger JS said...

Also, I've been straying a bit far from my bloging roots (fatwah's and hateful missives). The truth is, that format worked for me....so I think I'm gonna return to ranting 24/7. You are all on notice.

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put jsansana. I can't believe how many emails I received about that yesterday talking about how "cool" it is and "isn't it endearing that the law can remain so fresh." Utter bollocks. It represents a taint on the judiciary, not only in being tasteless but also as an absolutely terrible analysis of the word "ho."

Ah, rap music is always to blame for all our nations urban problems. Oh wait, what's that you say? The crime took place in a trailer park? Whatever, they're all the same anyway. Don't you think that I'm funny and powerful?

An etymological analysis of the devolvement of "whore" to "ho" would be more accurate (though equally appallingly unneccessary) with perhaps a pop cultural reference to highlight usage, rather than hanging the word "ho" solely as a product of that darn rap music. And imagine that you're the court reporter who got called out for writing the transcript improperly? How should that person feel now that her ignorance was highlighted by a federal appellate judge?

This is they type of shit you should snicker about with your buddy clerks in chambers, not publish for all the world to see. It is not "cool" or "fresh", it is crass and tasteless and taints the judiciary's respect for those who are forced to leave their lives in the hands of snivelling clerks like this.

Rant on, jsanjana.

--JTB

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger rfn said...

PLUS, this wise-acre completely overlooked a valid alternative usage:

What ho!" I said.

"What ho!" said Motty.

"What ho! What ho!"

"What ho! What ho! What ho!"

After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.

-- P.G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves

 
At 2:58 AM, Blogger Dita said...

Apparently, mistaking "hoe" for "ho" is a pretty common mistake, common enough to be made even by young men with--as you so delightfully put it--"white-boy suburban arrogance"

 
At 2:59 AM, Blogger Dita said...

P.S. I'm sad that no one bothered to forward me the e-mail :( I guess I'll never be part of the cool kids club...

 
At 5:20 AM, Blogger the birds said...

Good luck, time to get hood stuck
Caldasac trap, Mr. Good Stuff
Ludacris give me 20 push-ups
Last summer, got da hook up

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger 123 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Please. Get over yourself and grow a sense of humor.

Also, before you start calling someone else's writing "shoddy," you might want to spellcheck your blog posts.

"graveman"?
"whit-boy"?
"lexiconography"? (that one's my favorite -- try to sound smart by using a big word, only to add an extra syllable -- well done)

Time for someone to evaluate his own "editing process."

 
At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an appellate law clerk, I want to respond to this. There are several rounds of edits within an individual chambers and on the panel that decided the matter before it is published. I feel fairly comfortable saying that more than one judge on the 7th Circuit knew what was going out. And while the clerk may have offered research on the meaning of "ho," I wouldn't be that quick to guess that the clerk drafted the footnote or the opinion - judges do a lot more drafting of opinions that law students are romantically led to believe. Jsan, there is nothing "whit boy" about it - first, it was written by a woman judge and second, it is a fairly common phrase in rap lyrics, for better or worse. There are much better causes to get uppity about...

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For better or worse, rap is incredibly popular in the US, as is the use of the word “ho.” Of course this word is used to refer to a number of things, and I think that in order to understand it, you need to look at it in context.

If you want to restrict judicial independence because you want judicial opinions to reflect language the way you would like it to be, you might as well, let the executive or the legislature decide what thoughts it is acceptable to have. However, you seem to think that the vague concept of “settled lexiconography” will dictate what terms a judge or anyone can use.

There is nothing wrong with this opinions, other than the fact that it hurts your feelings. Perhaps instead of acting “offended” by something you read, you try and change your world. So, for example, you could refuse to associate with people who listen to rap.

Instead of trying to censor things, perhaps you need to question why you are so angry by the use of the word “ho.” Are you angry that other people like it? Are you from a long line of “hos” and take pride in being a “ho.” (Substitute the word “Jew” for “ho” and it is far less offensive, as people 1) take pride in being Jewish; and 2) use “Jew” as an insult.) Are you angry that the song is so popular? Are you angry that people are “hos.” Instead of blaming a judge and her staff, maybe you should think about what you can do to convince people not to use the word.

Also, as a “whit boy” I wonder what you have against me? I didn’t do anything to be whit. I am neither proud nor embarrassed by my race. It just is.

Finally, I wonder why you think that clerks live miserable lives. Granted, many of them don’t go to clubs every night, but it isn’t so bad, as least by my cultural standards.

In conclusion, I would ask you to be more tolerant of other cultures.

PS: Graveman isn’t a word.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger JS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger JS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger JS said...

OK, OK. First, I do appreciate the link from Greedy Clerks. Second, usually only people I know read this and they know and accept that my spelling is rancid. Third, I feel a little like Seinfeld being accused of being an anti-dentite. However, for the record, clerking seems like a fine public service and many of my best friends are planning on being clerks some day.

Moving on...yes, "whit-boy" and "graveman" were incorrect. Thank you for the edits. I am changing them now. Furthermore, I was uncomfortable with the word "lexeconography" as used in the post when I wrote it. I agree that is most likely neither a word nor used correctly. But, since that was an intentional bad choice, I'm leaving it.

I'll have to sit and think about the judicial independence argument for a little, although I must say that it seems a tad absurd. Also, I thought for sure Judge Evans was a white man. I went and checked the demographic data on the Seventh Circuit webpage, but maybe there are two Evans.

The above being said, I stand by the content of the original post. Thank you for visiting The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party.

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you stand by your post when you admit that not only did you make up words, but you engaged in a horrid, sexist, stereotype of Judge Evans ?

There is a greater problem than just your hatred of judicial independence. The problem with your post and your attitude, which is shared by many, is that things that you believe that things that you don’t like about society can be cured by proclaiming them not to exist, forbidding mention of them, or declaring certain words that make the reader think of the ills to be off-limits.

Many people have commented that black men have a somewhat-deserved reputation for being sexist. Most of the time only African-Americans will say it in public, but anyone who listens to a healthy amount of rap would probably find themselves in agreement with Bill Cosby and other prominent African-Americans who don’t like the way things are. While I am against sexism, simply declaring certain words to be bad will not make African-American men stop playing basketball and start studying, nor will it decrease the rates of teenage pregnancy amongst African-American women, and I highly doubt that it will convince one wife-beater that it is better to take a walk than to beat his wife.

More fundamental changes in attitudes and economics are necessary, and simply declaring that a transcript of some song lyrics should not be accurately transcribed because it makes reminds people of a rather depressing reality will not even start making these fundamental changes.

But guess what? When the government tells people they can’t say words it is unconstitutional, as the framers didn’t want the government doing just what you seem to advocate: changing language to suit your partisan whims (since you seem quite young, I think that your political beliefs can be termed “whims.”) But making sure your own kids study is legal and constitutional. Raising daughters to study biology not to stay out all night is also legal. (I think that building a shelter for battered women is too little too late, so I won’t address it.)

 
At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the blogger's comments, and I had made similar comments before Greedy Clerks directed me to this blog. I clerked for both the district court and the Ninth Circuit. There's a time and place to use humor. A defendant's criminal appeal is rarely ever the time or place for law clerks to practice their stand-up comedy. Shame on the 7th Circuit judges for allowing that footnote to be published.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger rfn said...

To suggest that appellate opinions are not informed by a broader culture of racism in American society would be disingenuous in any circumstances; to defend the motives of a court whose best known member has earnestly posited the theory that a higher proportion of black women than white women are fat because a limited supply of eligible black men compromises the likelihood of "profit" from an elegant figure is particularly ridiculous.

As to our host's orthographical shortcomings, get some perspective. One would have to be awfully insecure in one's own intellectual prowess to resort to such base and trivial insults. At least he makes an effort to express himself creatively and transcend the conventional law school mandate to write at a fourth-grade level. Anyway, non-rapper Irving Berlin couldn't write a note of music, but always expressed himself eloquently nonetheless. I imagine you would be whistling a different tune, as it were, in the absence of the spellcheck-enhanced software your esteemed appellate employers provide for you!

In sum, lay off jsanjana's writing style! That haircut, however, is another matter altogether...

 
At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RFN, If you are going to refer to something that Posner said you probably should provide specifics, and then explain why he is wrong. Saying that his thoughts just should not be thought does not help the conversation, but simply declares that you think some ideas are too dangerous.

Maybe the line about “hos” or “hoes” was improper comedy, but I don’t think it was aimed at the defendant so I don’t have a problem with it. If you want to be angry about something, be angry about the 2d circuit putting someone in jail for life, and then saying that they hesitated “a bit” because he was a retard. See Us v. Powell http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov:81/isysnative/RDpcT3BpbnNcT1BOXDA0LTA2MTktY3Jfb3BuLnBkZg==/04-0619-cr_opn.pdf (“We are sympathetic, as well, towards Powell’s "borderline to low average intelligence" and his history of behavioral problems. It is, however, Congress’ prerogative to set mandatory minimums, and in this case the mandatory minimum is life imprisonment.”)

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is Posner a racist ? Wow! And here I thought he was just a crappy economist ?

 
At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you not heard? The first person to call his opponent a racist wins the debate.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger rfn said...

Dear anonymous detractors,

1) I would hardly call Richard Posner my "opponent."

2) While he may well incidentally be racist, he is above all else simply a product of his time and culture. He has also been known to observe that if anyone had suggested while he was in college that even a single homosexual lurked among his peers, he would have been no less stunned than if he had been informed of the presence of a single Martian or vampire. It's no secret that even his closest friends and allies find him somewhat over the top.

3) If you are honestly in need of an explanation as to why the statement is wrong, any efforts on my part to enlighten you would require more time, energy, and sheer suspension of disbelief than this humble forum can provide...

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger rfn said...

Dear anonymous detractors,

1) I would hardly call Richard Posner my "opponent."

2) While he may well incidentally be racist, he is above all else simply a product of his time and culture. He has also been known to observe that if anyone had suggested while he was in college that even a single homosexual lurked among his peers, he would have been no less stunned than if he had been informed of the presence of a single Martian or vampire. It's no secret that even his closest friends and allies find him somewhat over the top.

3) If you are honestly in need of an explanation as to why the statement is wrong, any efforts on my part to enlighten you would require more time, energy, and sheer suspension of disbelief than this humble forum can provide...

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many people are confused about other peoples’ sexuality. This is no surprise because many people are confused about their own. (And the Supreme Court has noted this in dicta.) This doesn’t mean they hate gay people.

 
At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and as we all know, every member of the Supreme Court is a paragon of support for gay rights...

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger JS said...

OK, everyone out of the pool. I’m not going to dignify the comments that claim I “hate” judicial independence. Both because it’s not true; and because there was nothing in my original post that had anything to do with judicial independence. As for Posner, crappy economics is racist…because it lacks any semblance of context. You can see what I’m talking about if you compare the works of someone like Jadish Bhagwati with Posner’s simpleton screeds.

More interestingly, my brief encounter with Greedy Clerks has shown me that there are the wannabes and the real deal. As much can be seen from comparing the posters here who actually identified themselves as clerks on this page with the morons spewing nonsense. And by nonsense, I’m specifically talking about the idea that because Supreme Court dicta says something about homosexuality in America it must be taken seriously. The Supreme Court writes dicta to raise its opinions to the level of law, by imbuing the answer with reason. The reverse is not true. That would be a rule of men and not law.

Look, whoever started this by saying that my post makes them rethink the 19th Amendment is both delusional and pathetic. As for my chance of passing the bar, or whether I will be a better lawyer than you—suck it (and know your role). The footnote was inappropriate. Do I really think the clerk should be fired? Of course not.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Dita said...

Re: "Also, before you start calling someone else's writing 'shoddy,' you might want to spellcheck your blog posts."

Attacking an argument is fair game, attacking someone's typos and spelling errors in a blog post is not. Blog posts typically contain snarky, quickly written, off-the-cuff commentary. If you can't find something substantive to respond to, please don't bother with ad hominem attacks.

Re: "First, it was written by a woman judge and second, it is a fairly common phrase in rap lyrics, for better or worse. There are much better causes to get uppity about..."

Again, posts are supposed to be snarky, and funny. Also, if we were only uppity about the "better causes" then we could never complain about the lousy coffee that the law school dinning hall serves, or what passes as legal scholarship in journals these days. All we would be allowed to be uppity about is Darfur.

Re: "Instead of blaming a judge and her staff, maybe you should think about what you can do to convince people not to use the word."

I think you need to re-read the post. Jsanana wrote:

"...calling use of the word 'ho' a 'staple of rap music vernacular' reeks of white-boy suburban arrogance."

Jsanjana is right. Rap music has as much variety as any other genre of music. Not all of it is misogynistic. Read the following line from the footnote again:

"We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so)..."

It is possibly a good thing to be unfamiliar with rap? Why would that be? Perhaps because the court is assuming that all rap music uses terms like "ho" or that all rap music is misogynistic, or racist? Or that all rap music is violent or glorifies drug use? Or perhaps the court thinks that all rap music is just popular crap and that we should only listen to Beethoven, Bach and Bizet. I don't know why Judge Evans wrote that, but I can't think of a reason that the she would say it's perhaps thankful that someone would be unfamiliar with rap music that doesn't involve a negative stereotype of some kind.

The courts next sentence,

"We have taken the liberty of changing 'hoe' to 'ho,' a staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps 'You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies,'"

shores up my point about negative stereotyping. "A stape of rap music vernacular"?

At any rate, I can't believe I'm bothering writing a response to all this nonesense. I suppose if I'm going to defend the snarkiness and off-the-cuffness of blog posts, I should do the same for comments on blog posts. And besides, I really should be spending my time studying for my last two finals.

 
At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the accusations decrying our host's cruel efforts to undermine judical independence are fantanstic. Extrapolating an indictment of Article III out of a well-mannered criticism of some inappropriately employed crass humor in an appellate opinion redefines the term preposterous. I was blown away until I read on to the line about the Supreme Court acknowledging - in dicta - that some people struggle with their sexual identity. Quite possibly the most moronic thing I've encountered in quite a while. They said it in dicta? Oh, it must be true.

All these uppity clerks need to acknowledge the fact that using a criminal appeal to make vulgar rap jokes is inapproporiate. They should take solace in the fact that they treat their job, and the fates of the unfortunate criminals whose cases meander their ways into their lofty legal halls, with the solemnity owed to them.

-JTB

P.S. 11:37: Wittgenstein is spinning wildly in his grave.

P.P.S. jsanjana, graveman isn't a word.

 
At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a caucasian rapper I am offended by your use of the term "ho." We invented it, and I am angry that you are trying to oppress those who use it in their regular speech. The court was right to correct the transcription. PS: Buy my CD.

http://www.insaneshane.com/

 

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