Penny Arcade is awesome for those who don't know, though like so many webcomics, there is a certain geek quota prerequisite, however I think you'll all appreciate this gem from them:
"I could only read twenty-six lines of it, by the way - Paradise Lost, I mean - before I was overcome by it, literally short of breath. I'm not using the term "literally" to mean "figuratively," either, as is so often the case. I felt as though a spectral Milton were choking me from beyond the grave. I hope to one day write something so manifold and intricate that it will asphyxiate a person hundreds of years hence."
I'm following the us federal court trial against california's prop 8. It's pretty interesting. For those who don't know, this is yet another attempt to define proposition 8 (banning gay marriage) as unconstituntional, and thus invalid, as it unfairly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Now clearly, anyone with half a brain can read the relevant clause of the constitutions, and the text of the legislature and see that one countermands the other, but this is law, and you have to play the game.
All previous trials on this matter, all the way up to the california supreme court, have thus far failed. This new trial is now an attempt to get it heard at the US supreme court, taking it to the highest possible level. There are several reasons why this case is especially interesting. Firstly, is the plaintiff's counsel; one who defended gore, and one who (more successfully) defended bush in the 2000 election issue over florida's electoral college votes. the bush guy is a well known right winger, and so the whole issue is being billed as 'the conservative case for gay marriage' not all of then are evangelist nutters thank god. Secondly, whilst this case is focused on the constitutionality of proposition 8, and california alone, a ruling on it would be a federal one, and so potentially has far reaching implications for the medium term future of gay marriage fights all over the US.
The case has two main issues - firstly, convicing the court that this is something they should involve themselves in, and rule on even after the issue has gone through both a state ballot (for us english, it went through the equivalent of a referendum - direct democracy decides) and the california supreme court. Secondly, that the text of proposition 8 is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and thus is invalid.
It's the first one that's the really big issue. Personally, I don't expect the supreme court to come back with any ruling yea or naywise, I expect them to come back saying its not our concern, as do many others. THis is for a number of reasons. Firstly, to give a ruling, as I said earlier, would set a precedent that could be used in court battles all over the US, and thus would implicitly send a definitive for or against sentiment from the US Government. Secondly, it's easier for them not to rule on it, they know it's a messy business, they don't want to incur all the flak that would result from the impending fallout on both sides from either decision. Thirdly, giving a decision of any sort, would have a severe impact on DOMA (defence of marriage act - aka the don't ask don't tell policy and other such things), itself a matter that the us supreme court is reluctant to face. If they come back in favour of the plaintiffs in this case, there would be little basis for them arguing any support of DOMA, or indeed any reason why they could avoid ruling on any DOMA case that came to court. If they find in favour of the plaintiffs, it sends a clear message that DOMA will be expected to be around for a fair while, and the Obama administration has stated it wants to see the end of DOMA, they're effectively just waiting for the right time to do it, cause war and economy is too much of a hassle at the moment.
Whatever happens, it's an interesting case to watch unfold. Everyone involved is acutely intelligent, and knows how to phrase their questions, and how to construct their answers. It's a very complex card game, where it's all down to scoring the odd point off your opponent here and there through clever intrigues and methods of formulating your argument. The chief judge, to his credit, spends most of his time telling the defendants to stop pissing about and get on with it. Though there are some less stellar moments of intelligence, as shown by the following:
"Defending counsel: Do you agree that one of the reasons of marriage is that (hopefully) fewer children will be born out of wedlock?
Expert witness: Well, by definition. Because “wedlock” means “out of marriage.”
Defending counsel cross examination fail
For further and a more detailed following of the trial, and an analysis of the strategies, see http://prop8trialtracker.com/ They're transcribing live, so bear with them, as aside from the efforts of people like this, the courtroom proceedings have otherwise been closed to the general public.
In vaguely related news, the world would be a much better place if every daily news show, and especially political ones, were like The Rachel Maddow Show. I would swap Alanis Morissette for her as god anyday. See the following clip covered in her show, where pat robertson blames the haiti earthquake on their claiming of freedom from slavery. I especially like that he says 'true story' to it
Off to pick up the Lycan from the station. VAMPIRE GLEE!