Quote of the day

I love how much of my blog content actually inspired by links and comments on facebook.  Loved this status update from a pseudo-colleague of mine:

To provoke religious hatred because you have dim fears for your own beliefs is sad but not surprising, to do so to gain political office is contemptible but not uncommon. But Gringrich–vain, lecherous and corrupt–knows he will never again achieve office. He foments hatred to sell books and obtain speaking fees… That is beneath contempt.

Who gets discharged by DADT

Some researchers have analyzed the military’s pattern of who gets discharged under DADT and the results are that it is quite disproportional to the overall demographics of the military:

Women account for 14 percent of Army soldiers but received 48 percent of the Army’s “don’t ask” discharges in 2009, the study said. Six percent of the Marine Corps is female, but women accounted for 23 percent of its discharges. The Navy discharged only two officers for violating the policy in 2009, and both were Asian. The Army discharged five officers — two were black, one was Asian and two were white, the Palm Center said.

I don’t doubt for a second that this policy is used disproportionately against those who do not meet the military’s stereotypical ideal: white and male.   That said, at least when it comes to gender, I do wonder just how disproportionate it is.  Though many gay men certainly serve as fine soldiers, we all know that the military’s homophobic culture is not exactly the most welcoming place for a gay man and the vast majority self-select out.  On the other hand, I wonder if lesbian women feel less threatened by the military’s anti-gay culture and are thus more willing to serve.  Obviously, it’s pretty impossible to get data on this, but my supposition is that relative to their proportions in the general population gay men are under-represented in the military and gay women are over-represented.

Forensic science is neither: discuss

Okay, it is forensic, but most of it sure doesn’t seem to be science.  Certainly not in the NC State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) Lab.

The N&O has run a fantastic series over the past week about the shameful and endemic problems at the SBI lab.  The blood spatter “expert” was basically making stuff up as he went and convicting some presumably innocent people as he went along.  The ballistics “expert” meanwhile has been drawing seemingly completely false conclusions, but testifying about them with “absolute certainty.”  The evidence is quite clear that the SBI has come to see itself as little more than a tool of the prosecution with far more interest in convictions than actual justice.  There’s plenty of evidence of “experts” changing their results and fudging their testimony to give the prosecution exactly what they want.

And damn, there’s all these naive conservatives out there who somehow manage to believe everybody arrested and in jail most surely be guilty.  I sure wish it were that way, but the more one looks, the more one sees evidence for both incompetence and plain old malfeasance systematically putting innocent people in jail.  Here’s a nice post by Yglesias about how police department routinely ignore best practices for line-ups.

Thanks to this N&O series and aggressive coverage of the false conviction of Greg Taylor by horribly shoddy SBI work and testimony (seriously, some of those SBI guys should be in jail), I’m confident that there’s going to be real changes and improvement at the SBI.  This story thus also shows why good state/local newspapers are so important.  The N&O surely lost a lot of money covering this story compared to assigning the reporters to whatever salacious story of the day that didn’t require any actual reporting.   Nothing keeps the government accountable like solid watchdog journalism.  As fewer people subscribe to papers, fewer papers can afford to undertake this form of essential journalism.  So..  keep innocent people out of jail– subscribe to your local newspaper rather than just reading it on-line.

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