Tuesday, August 30, 2005

So many rants, so little time

I've got too much shit to do tonight to spend a lot of time on this post (motions to draft and a hearing to prepare for--joy!), but I'm bubbling over with frothy anger at the world today.

First, I'm getting sick of the blatantly incorrect analysis of the Georgetown Law Journal study that purports to make some sort of statement about the political leanings of law professors from the following statistics:
The study, to be published this fall in The Georgetown Law Journal, analyzes 11 years of records reflecting federal campaign contributions by professors at the top 21 law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Almost a third of these law professors contribute to campaigns, but of them, the study finds, 81 percent who contributed $200 or more gave wholly or mostly to Democrats; 15 percent gave wholly or mostly to Republicans.

To be sure we're all clear on this, let's recap. In a study of only 11 percent of law schools (21 out of 190 accredited law schools), we've determined that less than a third of law professors contribute to political campaigns. Of those who contribute, some smaller percentage contribute $200 or more. Of that smaller percentage (and I'm assuming the study will reveal what that percentage is), 81% gave "wholly or mostly" to Democrats. The "wholly or mostly" indicates that less than 81% of that smaller percentage give money only to Democrats.

Wow. What an indictment, right? Apparently so, according to Ann Althouse, who wrote that the study shows that "[n]early all" law professors are Democrats.

I fucking hate when people misread statistics. Oscar Madison also blogged about these stats and what they show--and don't show.

The next thing that set me off was this story in the Washington Post about a junior high school home economics teacher in Tokyo. Instead of standing and singing when the national anthem played at a school event, she sat and remained quiet. The teacher, a pacifist, "said she opposes the song because it was the same one sung as the Imperial Army set forth from Japan calling for an 'eternal reign' of the emperor."
But the Tokyo school board issued an order in October 2003 that the anthem must be respected. Since then, Nezu, 54, has been punished by frequent transfers from one school to another and with temporary salary cuts. And in May, shortly after the incident at Tachikawa, she was suspended for a month. Officials warned that another offense could lead to her dismissal after 34 years of teaching.

The school board reaction was part of an effort by Tokyo and other school districts to enforce a new sense of pride in being Japanese. The measures were strongly backed by Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo and an outspoken nationalist, as a way to strengthen classroom patriotism.

Forcing people to recite a pledge to their country is not the most effective way to foster a love of that country. My dictionary defines "patriotism" as "love for or devotion to one's country," not "meaningless expressions of loyalty in order to avoid retaliation."

Incidentally, it defines "fascism" as "a political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."

I think this story bothered me so much because I fear that my own country is trending toward that kind of knee-jerk retaliation against any voices of opposition. Anyway, I've got to stop thinking about this and start drafting law-type things. Ugh.


Blogger Lawmummy said...

Oh APL... why do you hate America?

I actually agree with your analysis (on both issues).

I find it increasingly distressing that you can't disagree with the current sentiment in the US without being labelled un-American. Kind of a throwback to McCarthy, huh?

I have blogged about this on my site before but I actually come from a military family. My younger brother is currently in the military (my older brother is now out). He's supposedly fighting for democracy. But yet, it's implicit that I don't respect democracy because I don't support random searches of Americans or surveillance of my library choices.


9:11 PM, August 30, 2005  
Blogger Neel Mehta said...

A law school classmate wrote her law review article on the legal ramifications of former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refusing to acknowledge the national anthem before games. It seemed like an interesting topic to read, but then I remembered it was a law review article.

And I'll say this about my experience with law professors: they sure were conservative when they graded me.

4:41 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger liz said...

Your ranting about these topics is completely justified. After reading your rants, I'm feeling pretty ranty myself!!!!

6:54 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Lawmummy said...

Hey Neel -
Thanks for posting that info. I am geeky enough to have searched for the article - it's at http://law.wustl.edu/WULQ/76-1/761-23.html - and it's really interesting. And appalling. But mostly interesting.

7:45 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

There was a similar situation with a women's college basketball player who -- I can't remember -- either refused to stand, or turned her back during the national anthem. In the Atlantic 10 conferenc, I think? My brain is such a sieve. I probably read about it in the NYT, back in the days when I still bothered to giv a flying f**k.

Neel Mehta, that is the funniest comment I have read in at least a week!

9:15 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

When stats are interpreted incorrectly, or when people just use studies to bolster their point, even when it doesn't match up, I get a little bit crazy. It just annoys me to death.

My experience with law professors was that they were rampantly hysterically liberal. Off the cuff liberal. But its all anecdotal, and at a law school that is traditionally known as being crunchy liberal. So who knows?

And yes, disagree with the current administration and you hate America. One of the bloggers I sometimes read wrote that she was happy (HAPPY!) that Cindy Sheehan's mom had a stroke because that was G-d's way of getting her out of the way. WHAT?!?!?! Ummm, I think I will NEVER EVER AGAIN read her site.

9:58 AM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

There are lies, D**M lies, and statistics.

12:30 PM, August 31, 2005  
Anonymous kiwi said...

Hmm. Or you could read the stats you cite (and, yes, I'm too lazy to go look at the study myself) differently. Let's see, 81% of those who contribute 200+ go liberal. That must just mean conservative law profs are too cheap donate.

3:17 PM, August 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is that no one ever looks at these stats when they're computed for law schools, academia in general or the "media" and draws the conclusion that smart people who do a lot of reading and research don't vote for Bush?

Egg before chicken, people.


6:04 PM, August 31, 2005  
Blogger Mr Jones said...

I just wanted to chime in with a simple hoorah. In my observation, noone can twist statistics around better than the conservative spin machine. While not a direct example, I'm reminded of some conservative I saw on TV recently who pointed to how quickly Florida was rebounding and how well modern structures had survived recent hurricanes there as evidence humanity could adpt to and survive global warming. I just thought to myself that it would do a fat lot of good to build hurricane proof structures if they're just going to end up submerged. Hopefully that won't happen. Of course this was all well before the current Katrina debacle. Anyway, good blogging, keep it up. Its your right, despite how some on the right may feel about it.

8:54 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

NSAH is sooooo right. I have often thought that well-read, well-educated people didn't vote for Bush, but it is again based on anecdotal evidence. I think it is on the money, though.

9:14 AM, September 01, 2005  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

I just found your blog - love it.

Manipulation of statistics completely annoys me as well. Based on that sample of 2 lawyers (you and me), we should be able to make some assumption about all lawyers everywhere, shouldn't we?

12:04 PM, September 29, 2006  

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