CityLab/The Atlantic | A History of Police Uniforms—and Why They Matter

The Upshot/New York Times | Not Just Ferguson: National Guard Has a Long History With Civil Unrest

Just a couple of interesting pieces of historical context for the ongoing civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo. and the role of law enforcement in such situations.

I’m writing on deadline this week, so unfortunately I can’t really take the time to offer any additional thoughts, but I think it’s important that we get as much historical context on this complicated and frustrating situation as possible.

(Photo of an accused anarchist being searched by police from the Library of Congress)


The creator of Godwin’s Law on the inevitability of online Nazi analogies and the ‘right to be forgotten’

A Q&A with Mike Godwin on scrubbing the Internet of people’s bad behavior.

"What you see underlying the "right to be forgotten" is the idea that somehow there’s a sense of yourself out in the world that you can draw boundaries around. That, I think, is fantasy. I sympathize with the fantasy. I think it’s a natural human impulse. But the fact is that we’re connected in ways that require us to think profoundly about how we present ourselves. And we’re never going to achieve the kind of control over that that one might want in an ideal world."

Some would argue that this is exactly the way it should work, and that authors who aren’t able to prove their claims should be prepared to pay the price. But the U.S. Supreme Court in Sullivan feared that legitimate stories would go unreported if that price was a crippling damage award. The jury’s verdict may seem like a vindication to Ventura, but it reminds those who write about public figures, especially in the freewheeling world of the blogosphere, that they do so at their own risk. It’s a sobering way to mark the 50th anniversary of New York Times v. Sullivan.

Jane Kirtley, on the jury verdict that awarded Jesse Ventura, “professional gadfly and raconteur,” a total of $1.8 million in his lawsuit against Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” Chris Kyle.

Kyle wrote in his book that after hearing a celebrity former SEAL he dubbed “Scruff Face” badmouth the war in Iraq and his fellow soldiers, he knocked the guy out in a bar fight. Kyle later identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura, and Ventura sued saying the book and Kyle’s comments were a lie, defamed him, and that Kyle was unjustly enriched as a result.

An appeal in the suit is likely.

When Comcast decided to get bigger, … we all had to ask ourselves, Are we big enough? We all have to think about getting bigger.

Net Neutrality for American Democracy

The FCC extended its deadline for filing public comments on Net Neutrality to Friday from today, after reports emerged that the website wasn’t handling the tens of thousands of submissions well.

Here’s what I submitted a little while ago:

Due to the Internet’s crucial role in the commerce, communication, and civic engagement of every single American (not to mention every single person in the world), I strongly urge the Commission to classify Internet Service Providers as Title II common carriers, reject any form of a “fast lane” for Internet communication, and apply these rules to all means of accessing the Internet available today and those yet to be created.

You should weigh in too.

*You might’ve noticed I haven’t posted in awhile! I’ve been busy. After spending a year teaching at Simpson College, I took a job at Quinnipiac University. Then some stuff happened. Anyway, I’m going to try and post a little more regularly again.

Freedom of the Press and Criminal Solicitation

I’ve not seen a more incisive explanation of the legal issues arising out of the Department of Justice’s investigation of reporter James Rosen. Geoffrey Stone’s is a must-read for the basics.

Principal Park, Des Moines Iowa, courtesy of Google Maps.

Principal Park, Des Moines Iowa, courtesy of Google Maps.

Newspapers phasing out Newspapers phasing out copy editorsNewspapers phasing out

Newspapers phasing out Newspapers phasing out copy editorsNewspapers phasing out

Reporters Interviewing Children In Connecticut School Shooting Adds Little News Value, Experts Say

I saw lots of “dear media: stop interviewing the children!” pleas on various social media yesterday following the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I did not see a lot of clear explanations forwhy not(it’s social media, after all). Don’t we need every available piece of information in the immediate aftermath of such an incident? Can there benovalue in carefully asking the children what they saw? 

This Michael Calderone piece is a lucid discussion.

The upshot: interviews with the traumatized young witnesses could have a value that outweighs a knee-jerk reaction to leave them be, especially in the early going. But there are lots of good reasons why their descriptions may not be accurate or useful, in addition to adding to their trauma.

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