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Friday, February 10, 2006

POLICING CRAIGSLIST: The international online forum sometimes features housings postings of this kind:
"NO MINORITIES," "Requirements: Clean Godly Christian Male," and "Only Muslims apply"
The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Inc. doesn't like such ads, which are written and posted by individuals in various regions of the country. This group wants to hold Craigslist liable for not removing the discriminatory postings. The legal grounds are shaky for such an action to succeed, but still: "I'm offended" has powerful resonance in America today. Should the expression of prejudicial preferences by individuals be forbidden at Craigslist and similar forums? No. Is it only a matter of time? Probably.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

TARGETING TARGET: Unbelievable. The National Federation of the Blind is suing Target because the chain department store's Web site isn't accessible to blind people. Orwell was a man with no illusions about how language can be corrupted by ideology, but I suspect even he would be floored by this one. Because Target's Web site doesn't support certain software favored by the rights for the blind lobby,
"Target thus excludes the blind from full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of daily life," said the suit, which seeks class action certification.
This definition of "exclude" is truly frightening in its potential for special interest groups to shake down successful commercial enterprises. Black people in the South were truly excluded from full civic participation due to segregationist laws and norms; it was right and good to challenge those in the name of equal protection. But to say that Target is liable for in any similar way "excluding" blind people, when alternative online shopping venues are available — oh, please. It's way past time for the Supreme Court to scale back the scope of the Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the most misguided statutes enacted during the administration of Bush the First.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

DEMOCRATIC DISARRAY: I'm not a superstitious guy, but sometimes I find myself wondering whether by openly celebrating the liberal left's cluelessness I might inadvertantly help them get better at disguising their agenda, thereby fooling a greater number of Americans. Now that I've got that off my chest, let me say what a pleasure it is to see leading Democratic senators chasing shadows, bumping into walls, and muttering aloud in a manner that's not always easy to distinguish from a garden variety street person. Listen to Adam Nagourney account in the in-house Democrat newsletter known as The New York Times:
Democrats are heading into this year's elections in a position weaker than they had hoped for, party leaders say, stirring concern that they are letting pass an opportunity to exploit what they see as widespread Republican vulnerabilities. In interviews, senior Democrats said they were optimistic about significant gains in Congressional elections this fall, calling this the best political environment they have faced since President Bush took office. But Democrats described a growing sense that they had failed to take full advantage of the troubles that have plagued Mr. Bush and his party since the middle of last year, driving down the president's approval ratings, opening divisions among Republicans in Congress over policy and potentially putting control of the House and Senate into play in November. Asked to describe the health of the Democratic Party, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said: "A lot worse than it should be. This has not been a very good two months." "We seem to be losing our voice when it comes to the basic things people worry about," Mr. Dodd said.
No, keep it up, Senator. Keep looking for ways to exploit GOP foibles, if only to keep voters from noticing your party's regressive political agenda: increase taxes, foster new bureaucracy, cut spending for national security. While you're at it, keep communicating to Americans that you agree with the ACLU that international phone traffic among known terrorist operatives should go unheeded by the president of the United States. Keep using the funerals of dignified civil rights leaders as forums for naked, self-aggrandizing political rhetoric. Keep inferring that Bush and Cheney had the World Trade Center blown up so they could suspend the Bill of Rights. My only request: Make your criticisms a tad more shrill. Pound your fists harder, like Ted Kennedy during the Alito hearings. Don't go soft on us now, guys. We need you to stand tall.