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What the Law is vs. What the Law Ought to Be

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Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a female employee who sued for what seemed to be obvious discrimination in her wages could not bring suit because she took longer than the statutory 180 days to bring the complaint. In her defense, she did not know of the discrimination that took place over the course of 20 or so years until late in the game. Predictably, women's rights groups cried foul saying the Court was stripping protections from women and was enshrining the wage gap. Was the decision misogyny at its worst? Hardly.

The law, as passed by Congress, required that complaints be filed with 180 days of the discriminatory act regardless of when it is discovered. Common sense dictates, certainly in the case of wages (which are often held in confidence), that sometimes it takes more than 180 days to discover an act of discrimination. The law as passed by Congress certainly has its flaws. Even the Bush Administration (which argued in favor of the woman's position) sees the flaws and argued against them.

That said, the argument of the lawyers and the woman's groups was that what the letter of the law says does not matter. If the law is deficient, the Court should simply ignore the law and impose a fair solution. It doesn't matter what the law is; what matters is what the law should be. A fair question would be why such groups believe a Congress or legislature is even necessary or desired.

There are several dangers with this position. First, it attempts to insulate and elevate the judiciary above and beyond the reach of the principle of checks and balances. This was most clearly seen in the case of Terri Schiavo, regardless of where you stood in the case. The legislature and executive at both the state and federal level attempted to check the judiciary in that case, and the judiciary told them to go to hell.

People complained about violating checks and balances, yet two branches tried to stop an action of the judiciary. It betrays the idea that checks and balances only apply to the executive and legislature, yet the judiciary is somehow immune. They also complained of interference in a "private matter", yet the matter was already fully vested in the government before any law was passed… the judiciary is government and a public body.

The legislature writes laws based (in theory) on the lobbying and influence of the people. There are few cases, namely those strictly involving the Constitution, where those laws should be overturned. However, imprudent or even stupid laws aren't unconstitutional. It's up to the people to get their elected officials to change the laws. Bambenek's Third Law might perhaps elucidate a principle here:

Those who complain loudest about a tyranny of the majority most often wish to impose a tyranny of the minority in its place.

This should not be read to defend an imperfect law with regards to discrimination; however, the law as written must be the basis for the law as interpreted. In court, only two sides are presented, the defense and the plaintiff, and one side must win. In the legislature, at least, all sides can get a say and there is a general possibility of compromise. Sure, there are lobbyists and there are abuses, but lobbyists of every stripe and ideology get to have a say.

No one is particularly fond of lobbyists and the abuses that tend to accompany them. The fact that "public interest" law firms have emerged which solely exist to effectively "lobby" the courts to create or define laws should give everyone pause. Lawyers have an exclusive profession and they have a particular worldview. Anyone can call a legislator and give them your opinion. Only lawyers can give judges their opinion, and those people, lawyer jokes aside, are not representative of the entirety of society.

That lawyers are running to court to get laws written and that the court has gotten in the business of writing laws, cuts an overwhelming majority of people out of the picture. The important thing to realize is that, regardless of your political affiliation,  this sword cuts both ways. Typically, judicial activism is a left-wing activity. However, if right-wing activists make the bench, left-wing people will find that they'll be on the losing end of court decisions, and there is no one they could lobby, no one they can pressure, and no one they can convince to get their ideas even considered. This is not the way to run a society.

Judges, especially on the federal level, are unaccountable and hold office for decades. It is telling that for a judge to make the Supreme Court his best strategy is to remain essentially silent on every conceivable issue in order to survive the confirmation process. Democracy is not helped by only considering stealth candidates for the bench. The public right to know is compromised when there is nothing to know.

These public interest law firms and groups need to realize that it is in their own interest and the interest of society at large for the courts to apply the law as written.  The practice of judges making up laws as they go and applying the law as they think it ought to be is fraught with peril and destined for rampant corruption. Sooner or later, a price will be paid for such disregard for judicial integrity.

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Dickens said it best, in The Pickwick Papers:

    “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble…”the law is a ass, a idiot.”

  • Dr Dreadful

    “Typically, judicial activism is a left-wing activity.”

    Now there’s a subjective statement if ever I saw one. If a judgment favors a left-wing point of view, it’s “judicial activism”. If it favors conservatives, it’s “upholding the intent of the law”.

    Hmm..

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav, your quote from Mr Bumble is actually from Oliver Twist. Bumble was a bully, a hypocrite, a gold-digger and a thief and an overall not very nice guy. The law in his case gave him exactly what he deserved and he didn’t like it.

    Mr Pickwick, in contrast, did fall foul of the law at its most asinine, when he got sent to debtors’ prison for refusing to pay compensation for a spurious allegation of breach of promise.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    DD,

    You are, of course, completely correct. I plead lateness of the hour…or something.

  • bliffle

    Bambi, as usual, offers a rich supply of bogus ideas and assertions ripe for refutation, but I’ll restrict myself to the single notion that occured to me upon first hearing of this decision. That is, the provision of a 180 day claim requirement. 180 days? Where does that come from? Why not a similar 180 day claim period for other legal claims? Will the IRS forgive my back taxes after 180 days? Of course not. This anti-discrimination law is simply discriminatory: it places a burden on the petitioner that has no corresponding burden for the other side.

    It is a violation of the Equal Protection provision of the constitution. People offended in this way simply do not have the same protection under the law as other petitioners and are put at a relative disadvantage to the offender.

  • Nancy

    Blif is correct; there are no corresponding statutory periods for any other kind of discrimination. Therefore, it applies to only one class of people – women. The same period was not applied to men. Therefore it is discriminatory.

  • LawStudent

    Dr Dreadful…

    You’ve got it somewhat backwards…

    judicial activism is a left-wing activity, but not every left-wing position is judicial activism.

    In other words, liberal judges tend to grant themselves more power to stretch and “interpret” legislation while conservative judges feel more restricted by the text of the statute. (For some reason there is that correlation, I’m not sure why. It probably has something to do with the personalities that make people liberals and conservatives in the first place.) There are however many liberal positions that don’t involve interpreting or defining statutes, or creating new law and consequently, have nothing to do with judicial activism.

    On the merits of this case, I think the Court got this one wrong. First, every paycheck is an act of discrimination and the action was commenced within 180 days of the most recent paycheck. Also, even by conservative standards, interpreting the 180 day limitation to apply only to “open and obvious” discrimination would not be too much of a stretch. Third, a permissive interpretation simply makes logical sense and is probably more in accord with the intent of the legislature that enacted the statute.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    If a judgment favors a left-wing point of view, it’s “judicial activism”. If it favors conservatives, it’s “upholding the intent of the law”.

    Quoted for the God’s honest truth.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Law Student, you missed my point. Right-wingers tend to view “activism” – of any kind – as a liberal tactic. Consequently, the charge of “judicial activism” often springs from the lips of conservatives as a slur against any court decision they don’t like.

    The best contemporary examples are those involving church-state separation issues, where rulings prohibiting the teaching of creationism in public school science classes, or the displaying of the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses – clear violations of the First Amendment – are condemned as “judicial activism” by their opponents. You don’t hear the same people complaining when courts uphold laws restricting the right of marriage to heterosexual couples – although there is a strong case to argue that such laws violate the Constitution’s equal protection provisions.

    As I said before, the term is subjective. Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board of Education – two decisions which are essentially a complete 180 from each other – were both criticized in such terms by those who felt that the court’s decision didn’t adhere to the letter or spirit of the law – or to their own beliefs and prejudices.

  • http://www.onebigdog.net Big Dog

    My understanding is she waited more than 180 days after she discovered the discrimination. I agree that this is not a standard I have seen applied to other cases but if the law states this is the standard then the court probably upheld the law as written. She should refile the suit and argue that her rights to equal protection were violated. The fact that she did not know is not a defense. John is right, they upheld the law and if it is wrong it is up to the legislative branch to fix it. The judiciary can only interpret.

    I wanted to pipe in on #9 by DD. You are absolutely wrong when you indicate these acts violate the First Amendment. First of all the Constitution does not contain the words separation of Church and State. Secondly the only two items dealing with religion are that Congress will make no law establishing religion nor will the free exercise of religion be prohibited. Neither statement bars prayers, displays of religious items or anything else.

    The First Amendment gives us freedom of religion not from it. If having the Ten Commandments in federal court houses why did our nation build a supreme court that has doors with the Ten Commandments on them? It is OK to argue judicial activism but you should know the Constitution if you are going to argue it and not rely on the ACLU talking points.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Big Dog:

    The Constitution does not contain the words separation of Church and State. I am aware that the Constitution does not contain that phrase. However, you know perfectly well that “an establishment of religion” means any kind of governmental endorsement of a particular religious belief. What else would you call the teaching of creationism in public schools?

    Congress will make no law establishing religion nor will the free exercise of religion be prohibited. Neither statement bars prayers, displays of religious items or anything else. It’s fine if a judge wants to have the Ten Commandments on the wall of his own private office. I don’t even have a problem with a court offering up a prayer before the start of the day’s business, so long as it’s non-denominational and no-one objects or is forced to take part. However, it’s quite another matter when the Commandments are displayed in, on or around the public areas of a courthouse as if they were the law of the land.

    The First Amendment gives us freedom of religion not from it. I agree with you that the First Amendment protects the expression of religion. However, it is clear that if you want to worship, you will do it on your own time and not expect governmental sanction.

    …why did our nation build a supreme court that has doors with the Ten Commandments on them? Your rhetoric is misleading. The several representations of the Commandments at the Supreme Court are part of a larger artwork on the theme of lawgiving through the ages. Also represented (besides Moses) are such other notable lawgivers as Hammurabi, Muhammad, King John of England, Napoleon and Blackstone. Furthermore, nowhere in the building are the Commandments written in full, or displayed in such a way as to imply their promotion by the government.

  • LawStudent

    Agreed that right-wingers call every liberal decision “judicial activism” but around law school the term is reserved, and properly so, for instances where the court assumes too much of a legislative role. Courts have always made law by themselves, and society accepts that. The point where they breach the boundary and assume a legislative function is not clearly defined, and is a matter of degree.

    I agree with the previous post that the Constitution does not require monuments to the ten commandments to be removed from federal courthoses. Nevertheless, the Ten Commandments case isn’t judicial activism because it is the Court’s job, not the legislature, to interpret the Constitution. The decision is, however, wrong.

    I disagree with a previous post that stated that 180 day statute of limitation violates the equal protection clause, because if a man were discriminated against based on sex the same 180 day limitation would apply.

  • Dr Dreadful

    LawStudent, please substantiate your assertion that the decision is wrong.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    #10
    “The 1st amendment gives us freedom of religion not from it”.

    Absolutely incorrect. It guarantees freedom from religion for those who do not want to practice or follow any belief system or dogma. There would be no freedom “of” religion otherwise.

  • bliffle

    Ten Commandments? Which ten? If you go thru the bible and tote them up you get 38. And we only legislate 2 of them: don’t steal and don’t kill. But then, any society would legislate those, without any religious prodding.

  • STM

    Doc, a tip: while I agree with you in regard to the separation of church and state and its function as a foundation of the US system of government, it’s a mistake to argue about the Constitution with your new-found Yankee friends … everyone in America has their own beliefs and interpretations of it, often misguided, some based on what was taught in grade-school history classes (as in 1st amendment rights regarding free speech and the widespread belief that it is absolute). Not referring to you here, BTW, Big Dog.

    For all the good oil on Constitutional law and how it’s been interpreted over the years, just go to the Supreme Court’s rulings (and the rulings of other courts, or decisions of the legislature for that matter). It’s OK for everyone to have an interpretation or an opinion (first amendment rights, again!), but the only rulings that count are those delivered by the lawmakers. The rest is thus just hot air and general windbaggery.

    So here’s a bit of mine: I reckon the 9th amendment is the best one of all … it’s a gentle instruction, if you like, from the founding fathers as to how the constitution should and (most importantly) shouldn’t be interpreted, and might dovetail quite nicely with the 14th amendment in regard to so-called judicial activism and how that might be perceived depending on what side of the political fence you stand. With its warning that the Constition shouldn’t be regarded as the whole of the law, it’s also a little piece of simple legislative genius that enables the functioning of an independent judiciary.

    However, in all the fuss about the rest, both the 9th amendment and the 14th amendment, each arrived at through genuine democratic process, often seem to be conveniently forgotten.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Ten Commandments? Which ten?

    Exodus 20. (And Deuteronomy 5, which is almost word for word the same. Apparently God felt the need to pass them down twice – perhaps His people weren’t listening the first time.) The majority of people don’t even know there are any others, and aren’t really missing out since they’re largely concerned with things like ritual cleanliness, worship and sacrifice, which most people don’t bother mucking about with these days.

    When I was at elementary school in Britain, where there is no separation of church and state (in fact, religious education is the only compulsory subject!), we had to learn the Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer by rote. All the more surprising then that we’re now such a bunch of heathens.

  • STM

    Ah, but what about the later commandment … that of Christ, contained in the new Testament.

    Very simple stuff: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

    In accordance with other teachings of Christ about unconditional love, tolerance, non-judgment, forgiveness and compassion, this sums up the very foundation of Christian belief and worship.

    Amazing how despite this, so many people who call themselves Christians have lost sight of what it is all about, and how many still believe in such Old Testament notions as an eye for an eye.

    The Church teaches that this is not the case, and also that the teachings of Christ are not open to interpretation.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The “Christians” you are talking about see a major loophole: Christ’s other statement that he did not come to abolish a single word of the law – i.e. the Old Testament. Attempts to reconcile this render the teachings very much open to interpretation.

    Long and the short of it, you can justify pretty much anything on biblical grounds if your reasoning is bendy enough – which is a very good reason for not allowing the Good Book anywhere near an American courtroom.

  • STM

    We have a couple of terms in Oz for such Christians … wowsers and God-botherers.

  • STM

    DD: “When I was at elementary school in Britain, where there is no separation of church and state”.

    Ah, but Doc, you are not quite right … there absolutely is separation of church and state – under English common law, and therefore under the (constantly evolving) constitution of Britain.

    No one can force anyone in Britain to worship or not worship, or tell them how they should or shouldn’t worship, or even what to do, think or say generally (within the bounds of the law, even if it is a ass on occasion).

    That, dear doctor, is the abiding beauty of the place. Greece is not the birthplace of the modern, liberal democracy as we understand it – Britain is.

  • Dr Dreadful

    So what the hell am I doing in America, again?

    ;-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    “So what the hell am I doing in America, again?”

    You like us seppos?

    (And yes, I know that’s bad grammar! It just sounds too poofy the other way))

  • STM

    But you are all still a pack of bastards :)

  • STM

    America is one of those more-ish places DD, i think. Once you’ve had some, you must have more. G’day Clav. Good to see you embracing the great Aussie insult (or one of ‘em) :) You knew that term, though, did you not, from your days in a certain south-east Asian country??

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    G’day y’old bastard!

    Aye, mate. And the longer I hang around you, the more I remember from back then.

    That’s a good thing, BTW…I think. :>)

  • Dr Dreadful

    Yer grammar’s fine, mate. You [subject] like us [object]. Although yer do sound more like a bloody pirate when yer try talkin’ Strine.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with bein’ a pirate, matey. Arrrrr!!

  • Dr Dreadful

    STM: Well, America does contain both Sandra Bullock and Holly Hunter, so it does have something going for it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    DD, As a fellow community thetre thespian, I have to tell you that Ms. Hunter (MANY years ago) once played my daughter in a production of The Rainmaker. Nice kid.

  • Nancy

    I think if I weren’t already in the US, I would most like to be a citizen of Oz – or N.Z. I like the Ozzian attitude, & the accent is cute.

    BTW, STM: Oz is a pretty big place; is the Oz accent fairly standard throughout, or (as I surmise) does it differ from region to region, Oz being so large & all? All I’ve ever heard is the ‘standard’ ‘strine.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan will probably correct me on this, Nancy, but I didn’t notice any major regional differences when I was there. My experience is that the way people talk Down Under seems to depend more on their social bracket than the region they live in. The “Aussieness” of the accent is much stronger among the working and lower middle classes, and weakens as you go up the social scale until you get to the private school-educated élite, where it disappears almost entirely.

    Many indigenous Australians (Aborigines) do have a distinctive accent when they speak English, especially those who mostly use their own languages in their daily lives.

    That said, the “standard ‘Strine”, as you put it, probably does vary to an attuned ear, as do accents in any country. Case in point: I’ve lived in the US for six years now and am just starting to be able to detect what part of the country a speaker comes from (although I’ve always been able to distinguish the really obvious accents, like Deep South or Boston). Although determining whether someone comes from Minnesota or from Canada is still a bit of a bother!

    STM – over to you…

  • Nancy

    That does surprise me; I’d have thought the people on the N. coast would talk different from those on the W. coast, would talk different from thone on the SW coast – the Sydney strip, as it were. The US has considerable regional differences (most Americans can tell a Noo Yawker from a Bahstonian from a Tix-in from a Charrrrlstonian or a Cee-takkerrr (Sea-Tac: Seattle-Tacoma) or someone from, say, the Lake Woebegone areas. I can even still tell, after all these years away, if someone comes from north of Boston, south of Boston, western Mass., or from NH or down Maine. To a more limited degree, I can tell what county/township they come from in my own area I grew up in. England seems the same: even I, a Yank, can tell a Kentie from a Middie from a Yorkie from a Geordie, & you’d have to be deaf not to be able to finger a Liverpudlian or a Welshman. I’m told in some areas, those attuned to it can pinpoint what county someone comes from, or what part of London within a few streets. Kind of like My Fair Lady. So with such vast distances, fairly isolated until relatively recently, I’d think Oz would also have some pretty identifiable regional dialects & accents. How odd that you don’t. I wonder why?

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    Once again I’m faced with the same illiterate trolls who stalk my posts.

    I said “**typically** judical activism is a left-wing activity”.

    Typically Typically

    Typically

    As in, it’s not exclusively left-wing. Meaning, sometimes it’s right-wing.

    I’m absolutely convinced that 90% of my critics comment on my articles without actually having read them.

  • zingzing

    of course, it must be that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is an illiterate troll.

    that said, if you were to ever utter the phrase “judicial activism from the right,” i would poop myself. your leanings… is “leanings” the right word at this point?… your beliefs are well known at this point.

    it’s almost as if you don’t even have to say anything anymore, we know what you’ll think about it. you walk a very narrow path.

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    I walk a narrow path indeed, I read everything thoroughly, analyze the arguments, make a conclusion and then dare to have a well-formed opinion.

    I wasn’t criticizing people for being illiterate because they disagree with me, I was criticizing people who don’t read what I write, mischaracterize what I said, and then with their straw men firmly in place, they take it apart.

    For the record:
    “judicial activism from the right”

    Now, go change your shorts.

  • STM

    DD wrote: “The “Aussieness” of the accent is much stronger among the working and lower middle classes, and weakens as you go up the social scale until you get to the private school-educated élite, where it disappears almost entirely”.

    Interesting view, but … old boy, that depends entirely on whether you go to a poncey elitist Anglican heathen private school like the King’s School or Shore School (not as bad), or a decent elite boarding school like St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill :) Always good to watch the silver-spoon boys get hammered in the rugby by Joeys (Australia’s rugby nursery) or by Riverview school, their equally decent elite Catholic rivals from across the river.

    The big problem with places like the King’s School (I think I told you a while back about parking my banged up SEAT car outside their chapel between a new Bentley and a big exec BMW, which led to some sniffy looks) is that they seem to turn out a lot of lawyers, which is a telling factor IMO. Pitt St fu.king farmers …

    You are right up to a point, but here’s the rub: all those schools mentioned above and another four NSW schools are grouped into an elite federation known as the Great Public Schools of NSW. The boys all come out speaking differently, some with knock-about accents and some snooty.

    It depends on how many boys there are from the bush, and on their family-social backgrounds. Only one school is a state school: Sydney Boys High, and is selective. The other seven schools cost about the same for tuition and boarding fees (pricey), yet different kinds of men come out of them. Nothing’s a given in this country Doc, and as you know, most of us hate elitist wankers so we go out of our way to avoid it for the most part.

    But I digress (on my favourite theme!). There are regional dialects, though. East coasters sound similar, including Tasmanians, but I can pick a Victorian, and Queenslanders speak slowly while looking you fair in the eye as if they’re about to eat you (it’s the heat up there).

    South Australians have a very distinctive accent … they had a lot of German and English migrants, but few Irish or cockney convicts.

    West Australians these days sound a little like Kiwis who’ve lived in Oz for 20 years, also possibly because of their migration pattern. Plus, I can always tell people from the bush by the way they speak. You can also tell people who’ve grown up in inner-city Sydney: they aren’t badly spoken, but the accent is hard and a couple of my mates seem to speak out of the corners of their mouths, even on the phone … a bit like New Yorkers and cockney wide boys.

    The regional differences may be subtle to an outsider, but I can pick them a mile off.

  • STM

    Also Doc, we don’t split our “classes” like they do in Britain.

    There really aren’t any. What would pass as working or lower-middle class in England in Oz is just one giant middle-class, because as you know wages even for blue-ollar workers are high and the standard of living is great. Some “working-class” people, tradesmen and what have you, live in very wealthy suburbs and there’s no discrimination, or very little, in regards to what you do for a crust.

    The upper classes? We don’t really have them. Some people would like to be but, but it’s regarded as a wanky construct. In Oz, mostly, your’re either very wealthy, wealthy, quite comfortable or doing OK, thanks very much.

    It’s a lot different to the UK and the US in that regard.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Knew you’d set me straight, Stan. I’ll keep a lookout for all of that when I next come over. I love accents and learning to distinguish between them. I’m pretty hot on Britain and Ireland, and I’m getting better at the US, but Canada and Australasia are going to need a bit more work. I am also able to detect some French and German regional accents.

    I know a woman who teaches at Shore. She landed the job after quitting her previous post at a private Muslim school because she got fed up with pretending she didn’t live with her boyfriend. Apparently one of the job requirements is compulsory attendance at sports matches on Saturday mornings. Even if you’re not actually coaching, you’re still expected to show up and holler for the school. She’s from South Australia and I can’t really detect anything different about her accent, other than that she ends every sentence on an up note, which seems to be de rigeur for young women all over the Anglosphere these days anyway.

    “A couple of my mates seem to speak out of the corners of their mouths”. Like Hogan’s mate Strop? Except that I seem to remember his permanently droopy lip was simply a receptacle for any cigarette that happened to be passing.

  • STM

    DD wrote: “I know a woman who teaches at Shore. She landed the job after quitting her previous post at a private Muslim school because she got fed up with pretending she didn’t live with her boyfriend. Apparently one of the job requirements is compulsory attendance at sports matches on Saturday mornings. Even if you’re not actually coaching, you’re still expected to show up and holler for the school.”

    My son went to Joeys (St Jospeh’s), with a bit of a remission on the boarding fees, and of course is an outstanding rugby player because of his time there. However, he went over the wall at the start of Year 11 because of dramas with a girfriend, who he wanted to be with on Friday and Saturday nights. He ended up at their arch-rivals, Riverview, which is literally across the river at Lane Cove. The boys can almost spy on each other with binoculars. His Joeys mates used to SMS him with messages like, “How are the poofters on the other side of the river?”

    He ended up in the 1st XV there, and played against all his old mates in a joeys home game at Hunters Hill in front of 15,000 people. He said it was the most exciting day of his (young) life, although he copped a bit of stick from the St Joseph’s crowd.

    They do take it seriously. I coached a lot of boys who went to Shore school, and they are pretty good blokes all round. Even though most come from priveleged backgrounds, my young bloke says they are hardest bastards of all to play at rugby. And yes, all the boys in the GPS are expect6ed to turn up and holler. The families go too, plus the old boys, plus people who like good, fast rugby, so you get big crowds.

    It is arguably the best-quality schoolboy rugby competition in the world in terms of speed and skill, although the Kiwis and South Africans would probably have a bit to say about that and a good case for countering.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And here’s me thinking it was just America where school sports are a big deal.

    Our local college football team are hardly world-beaters, but they still regularly draw crowds of 45,000 for home games (although that might be because there’s bugger all else to do in town of a Friday night). Even high schools have stadia that can hold several thousand people, and their exploits are faithfully chronicled on the local TV news. A knowledgeable American fan will be able to discuss at length the merits of the top college and high school teams and players in a variety of sports.

    Contrast that to Britain, where your typical attendance for an inter-school soccer match is likely to be two parents, an apathetic teacher or two and a stray dog. At my high school, they didn’t even bother reading out the results in assembly.

  • STM

    DD: “Contrast that to Britain, where your typical attendance for an inter-school soccer match is likely to be two parents, an apathetic teacher or two and a stray dog”.

    Don’t forget the three kids who heard a noise and rode their bikes down to the oval to see what was happening, and the two magpies …

    On a serious note, though, I think it’s a lot different to America here. GPS rugby (and some other school competitions) has genuine icon status in Sydney, just by virtue of their long tradition going back to the mid 1800s. It’s very British, too, I suppose, but with an Aussie flavour. Some of the scoreboards still read “School: XX. Visitors: XX”

    It’s a great day out to go and watch a good GPS rugby match, exciting, noisy and still free. Although the boys train really hard and do weights and gym work as well, it’s one of the last great bastions of true amateur sport, full of colour and tradition (flags, bagpipes etc). We have inherited our traditions from you, so you’d feel right at home here I’m sure.

    Ask your friend … Shore boys still wear straw boaters with the school hatband. They are coated in hard resin and the boys use ‘em as frisbees.

  • Nancy

    Gawd, Oz sounds like a fun place to be- !

  • zingzing

    jb: “I walk a narrow path indeed, I read everything thoroughly, analyze the arguments, make a conclusion and then dare to have a well-formed opinion.”

    sometimes you do. other times, it seems like nothing could dissuade you from your pre-formed conclusions. like in this case… the law is obviously bad. so how does the judiciary tell the legislature that the law has significant problems? it interprets the law as it should be interpretted in this case. that wouldn’t be “judiciary activism,” it would be checks and balances. the legislature writes a bad law, the judiciary respects the actual intent of the law while skirting around the letter of the law. simple. what’s elevating the judiciary beyond checks and balances? what checks and balances does the judiciary have if not to interpret the law (which is what they do anyway) in the way they see fit. the law should be fair as well as followed.

    “I wasn’t criticizing people for being illiterate because they disagree with me, I was criticizing people who don’t read what I write, mischaracterize what I said, and then with their straw men firmly in place, they take it apart.”

    no, you were calling those who disagree with you illiterate, and you know it. people read the articles. as for “mischaracterization,” you are the king of that… you pick and choose words to support your point of view all the time. “straw men?” don’t get me started. your defense of christianity is always a classic case of “straw men.” it’s fucking fascinating.

    “For the record: ‘judicial activism from the right’ Now, go change your shorts.”

    no, no… use it in a sentence. i bet you’re whispering “there is no…” before the rest of the phrase. besides, i already pooped today. thank you very much.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan, if you’re reading this, I’m currently watching a profile of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on PBS. His top lip doesn’t move when he speaks either. So evidently it’s not just a right-wing phenomenon.

  • STM

    I always get the feeling with Howard that the only time he smiles is when he’s just eaten his young …

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/clavos Clavos

    Easy, mate he’s just doing his bit for energy conservation by helping keep the population down…

  • STM

    “Gawd, Oz sounds like a fun place to be- !”

    Come for a visit one day, Nancy. You’ll love it. Americans always feel at home. They only ever complain about the language barrier … the rest is familiar. (sisyphus lived here for a couple of years and said it took him two years back in America to stop calling everyone mate).

    Interesting talking with DD, though, as he now lives in the US, grew up in England and has visited Oz before. What I say about the place is pretty right, I think: Australia is like a cross between the US and the UK, with the good bits of both – and sadly these days, a little bit of the bad, too.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Well, I’ve spent a total of 5 1/2 weeks in Australia in my life and still find myself constantly saying “no worries” to people.

    The place gets under your skin.

  • Bah

    All of these comments leave one with the view that the law is inadequate.
    Respond…