Monthly Archives: January 2013

Defaming the king

By Christopher B. Daly 

This episode of press intimidation in Thailand — where a journalist was sentenced to 10+ years in prison for insulting the king — may seem like a throwback to journalists in many countries. His crime: Lèse majesté, which to say: an injury to the majesty of the ruler.

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But don’t get too smug too fast. There are similar laws against dissing the king in the following places:

1 Current lese-majesty laws in Europe
1.1 Denmark
1.2 Netherlands
1.3 Norway
1.4 Spain
2 Current lese-majesty laws in the Middle East
2.1 Kuwait
2.2 Jordan
3 Current lese-majesty laws elsewhere
3.1 Morocco
3.2 Thailand

Yikes!

Lese-majesty is an old legal doctrine, which once ruled the British publishing world, including the original publishing efforts that developed into the American press.

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Math for journalists (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly 

In their own words, Republican strategists explain one of the superficially puzzling results of the 2012 election: The total vote for all Republican candidates for the U.S. House combined were 1 million votes fewer than the total vote for Democratic candidates for the U.S. House. Yes, the Republicans won a majority of House seats, giving them the power to elect the House Speaker.

How?

In this memo, the Republican State Leadership Committee takes credit, saying that Republicans who control state governments used that power when they used the results of the 2010 census to redraw the lines that define House districts. (That job is a responsibility of the states, not Congress itself.) No surprise, Republicans drew districts that favored their own party’s candidates.

QED.

Here’s the takeaway:

The rationale was straightforward:  Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn.  Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.

 

 

 

 

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One of the greats

Sad news: the death of Eugene Patterson, a member of the “greatest generation” who really was a great journalist. Reading his obituary in the Times and the version in the Post today, I wondered how many tank commanders go into journalism any more. (After facing the Germans at Bastogne, why would he fear the KKK?)

This undated photo made during World War II, shows Eugene Patterson, commander of a tank platoon as Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army drove through the German ranks. Newspaper editor and columnist Eugene Patterson, who helped fellow Southern whites understand the civil rights movement, has died, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. He was 89. Photo: AP.

This undated photo made during World War II, shows Eugene Patterson, commander of a tank platoon as Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army drove through the German ranks. Newspaper editor and columnist Eugene Patterson, who helped fellow Southern whites understand the civil rights movement, has died, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. He was 89. Photo: AP.

 

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The power of story

by Christopher B. Daly

Narratives in the news:

–Here is a smart piece about why some of us are drawn to TV narratives like Downton and other shows with strong narratives.

–Here is a smart piece about the power of narrators (although I think there is a bit of confusion here between narrators and protagonists, which are not the same).

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Uh-oh. Layoffs loom at NYT

Here’s the New York magazine version, complete with the memo from Jill Abramson.

No matter how you slice it, this is not good news.

NYT executive editor Jill Abramson

NYT executive editor Jill Abramson

 

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Deadly weapons

By Christopher B. Daly

I have ready access to a device that can kill people. Sure, it was built for other purposes, but it can kill people — potentially lots of people.

This device is dangerous. Because it is so dangerous, people (acting through their governments) have taken steps to minimize the danger:

–As a user, I have to take lessons and prove to a police officer that I can handle this device.

–I have to submit to a government-run eye exam.

–I have to pay for a license and carry it any time I use this thing.

–I have to pay (a lot) for insurance in case I accidentally hurt someone.

–The device itself must be registered with the government.

–Every year, I have to let a stranger handle it and prove that it is in good working order.

–I have to take steps to make sure this thing is never stolen, by locking it and by installing special equipment to deter thieves.

–I have to pay taxes to help make these things safer.

–If I want to sell an old one, I can go to the private re-sale market, but the new owner has to have a license, pass inspection, etc.

–If I get too old to handle it or lose my eyesight, there goes my license.

–I cannot just hand one to a child.

–Every time I use this thing, I am subject to being watched by a police officer; if I do anything wrong or if any of my safety equipment is not working, I am subject to immediate detention.

What is it? It’s an automobile.

So, if we can live with these kinds of restrictions on our cars, why can’t gun owners accept some reasonable limits on their guns? (Not a ban, just some common-sense rules for safety.)

From the CDC’s latest national annual figures:

Deaths from motor vehicles:  34,485

Deaths from firearms:  31,347

 

 

 

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A new “Hearst castle”?

By Christopher B. Daly 

Even from the grave, media mogul William Randolph Hearst continues to make headlines, reshape the landscape, and build edifices. Turns out, one of the rockpiles he bought in Europe was never re-assembled but just lay in a shed in San Francisco’s Golden Gate

The house's stones were bought in Spain by William Randolph Hearst in the 1930s, then abandoned in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for decades.(Max Whittaker for the NYT)

The house’s stones were bought in Spain by William Randolph Hearst in the 1930s, then abandoned in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for decades.
(Max Whittaker for the NYT)

Park. Until, that is, a band of monks and a California artisan brewer (is there any other kind inthe Bay Area) teamed up to put all the pieces back together again.

A rare feel-good story involving Hearst. (Actually, there is a missing feel-bad angle: these stones belong in Spain and should have been repatriated. Hearst, the cultural imperialist, should not be allowed to get credit for this.)

 

 

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