Notes and Comment Blog


Boss says no

May 7th, 2019 10:16 am | By

Everything is subject to “executive privilege.” Everything. Nobody can give anything to any Congressional hearing ever because “executive privilege.” It’s an eternal law and it covers everything in this universe and all others.

The White House on Tuesday invoked executive privilege to bar former White House counsel Donald McGahn from complying with a congressional subpoena to provide documents to Congress related to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone said McGahn does not have the legal right to comply with its subpoena for 36 types of documents — most relating to Mueller’s nearly two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rather, Cipollone argued the committee needed to send the request to the White House — and even hinted that they would assert privilege to block the information.

Because executive privilege is an absolute, and not subject to the whims of such a trivial body as the legislative branch.

McGahn emerged as a central player in Mueller’s findings, a senior confidante who documented in real-time Trump’s rage against the Russia investigation and efforts to shut it down. Democrats were hoping to have him testify for a national television audience.

The special counsel has identified two episodes in which McGahn was a critical witness and in which investigators say they have substantial evidence Trump was engaged in obstruction of justice that would normally warrant criminal charges.

In mid-June of 2017, Trump tried to pressure McGahn to intervene with the Justice Department to try to push for Mueller’s removal from office based on alleged conflicts of interest, the report said; in February 2018, Trump summoned McGahn to the Oval Office and urged him to deny a news account that suggested the president asked for his help in ousting Mueller.

But Trump is His Majesty King Executive, so none of that matters. God save the King Executive.



Hooray for war crimes?

May 7th, 2019 9:31 am | By

Oh, this is ugly.

President Donald Trump on Monday granted a pardon to a former first lieutenant in the US Army who was sentenced to prison in 2009 for killing an Iraqi detainee, according to the White House.

Behenna deployed to Iraq in 2007, according to The Washington Post. The following year, two soldiers and friends of Behenna were killed in a roadside explosion and he was on the scene, the newspaper reports.

Shortly after the soldiers’ death, there was an intelligence report saying then-Iraqi operative Ali Mansur possibly helped organize the explosion, the Post reports.

Mansur was interrogated but then freed, the Post reported, because the military did not have conclusive evidence tying him to the explosion.

Less than a month later, Behenna went to interrogate Mansur on his own, without authorization, stripped Mansur naked and shot him twice, according to the Post.

Behenna left the body and didn’t tell anyone, and the next day Iraqi police found Mansur’s body, the Post reported.

According to the report, Behenna maintained he acted in self-defense.

Military prosecutors told the jury at his 2009 court-martial that they believed Behenna killed Mansur to avenge the loss of the two soldiers, according to the Post.

Pardoning war crimes now. What next – Medal of Freedom for Lieutenant Calley?



More than 450 former federal prosecutors

May 6th, 2019 5:05 pm | By

The Post reports:

More than 450 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump — if not for the office he holds.

The statement — signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees — offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr’s determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed a crime.

The statement is on Medium so let’s read it:

We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system: as line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States Attorneys, and senior officials at the Department of Justice. The offices in which we served were small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and located in all parts of our country.

Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.

Multiple felony charges.

The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:

· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;

· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and

· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.

They give details on his efforts to fire Mueller and to get Sessions to reverse his recusal.

All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions.

And, he did some of it right in front of us, while we watched.

The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators. Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the dangling of pardons, was done in plain sight via tweets and public statements; other such behavior was done via private messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should “[s]leep well tonight[], you have friends in high places.”

Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report.

We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.

He might as well have been carrying a sign saying “I’m doing my best to obstruct justice.”

As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk. We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report.

If you are a former federal prosecutor and would like to add your name below, click hereProtect Democracy will update this list daily with new signatories.

Powerful stuff. Now if only there were something we could do about it.



Where people think that otherkin are appropriating transgenderism

May 6th, 2019 4:27 pm | By

What happens when one non-material “identity” competes with another non-material “identity”? Do they stare at each other in blank confusion? Do they start competing to see who can make the most accusations of ___phobia?

Vice asked some otherkin in 2016:

But something that is common within the otherkin community are struggles with mental health. “A lot of otherkin who don’t struggle with mental illness are older and usually have well established identities by this point. They’re aware of who they are and don’t necessarily have to talk about it online anymore.”

Ooh. What would that be like? Having an identity and not talking about it online anymore? That just sounds weird, man.

This is true for 17-year-old Miranda, who is a member of Riviera’s Facebook group and identifies as a dog. “I’m constantly thinking about [my identity]. Most animals share common features, making it harder for me to see who I really am,” she says. “As I learn and experience more, I am hoping I will find clarity to my true self.”

The debate between transgenderism and otherkin is one area Miranda would like to see evolve. “It seems that many people of the transgender community think that otherkin is a mock version of transgenderism and are very hateful of it,” she says. “This is not the case for us of course, as many of us are in the LGBT+ community.”

Oh no – they’re otherkinphobic?

Riviera, who is both otherkin and transgender, says the “raging debate where people think that otherkin are appropriating transgenderism is something that I find a little bit frustrating being trans myself.

“When much of the world is actively hostile, if not outright murderous toward you, it stops mattering if someone is suicide baiting you for being trans or for being otherkin—the result is the same.”

But who is appropriating whom? That’s the key question. Let’s ask this male lesbian over here what he thinks.



Since 1924

May 6th, 2019 4:10 pm | By

It’s a big No on the tax returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday told House Democrats he would not furnish President Trump’s tax returns despite their legal request, the latest move by Trump administration officials to shield the president from congressional investigations.

The latest move by Trump administration officials to shield the corrupt thieving cheating lying president from congressional investigations.

Mnuchin added that requests from Congress “must serve a legitimate legislative purpose” and that the request from Democrats does not.

A number of legal experts have said it would be unprecedented for Mnuchin to refuse to turn over the tax returns, as the power for lawmakers to seek the returns is written explicitly in a 1924 law.

In other words administration hacks are just making it up as they go along while Barr smirks in approval.

The chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have had the authority since 1924 to obtain the tax returns of any American, and the law stipulates that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” the information once it is requested. This law was put in place during the Harding administration because of financial improprieties that stemmed from the Teapot Dome scandal.

And Trump’s financial improprieties (that is to say, crimes) are being concealed and protected by Trump’s gang of crooks in defiance of that law.



happy #LesbianDayOfVisibility down with cis

May 6th, 2019 3:54 pm | By
happy #LesbianDayOfVisibility down with cis

Another day another woman suspended from Twitter for…this time it’s for telling a man, or boy, that he’s not a lesbian.

Let’s take a closer look at that photo.

Capture

happy #LesbianDayOfVisibility my self worth is directly tied to how fucked up my hair is. anyways down with cis

“down with cis” – down with 99.9% of people because they are not trans, but that’s just fine, while a woman telling him he’s not a lesbian merits suspension. Also, of course, while relentless harassment of women might as well be Twitter’s middle name.

Nobody gets to force people to believe fictions, especially not stupid fictions.



You or your oppressive views

May 6th, 2019 11:13 am | By

Madigan is busy covering himself with glory as Labour Student Women’s Officer.

But he’s Labour Student Women’s Officer. Surely he’s supposed to represent (or advocate for or whatever it is that a student women’s officer does) her regardless of her views.

I don’t know that that’s true, and I have my doubts, but even if it is true – what a rotten, psychopathic way to look at it. “There is no explicit rule against the Labour Student Women’s Officer telling women to go fuck themselves, so I as the Labour Student Women’s Officer am going to feel entirely free and entitled to tell women to go fuck themselves whenever I dislike what they think.”

That’s not what Maya Forstater is doing. She’s bringing a case against her firing from a job for tweets arguing that men are not women. That has nothing to do with “discriminating against” Madigan and people like Madigan. There is no “right” to force everyone to agree that men are women if they say they are. Refusing to agree that men are women if they say they are is not “discriminating against” those men.



Bumps ahead

May 6th, 2019 10:32 am | By

Pelosi isn’t the only one who thinks Trump might refuse to leave if he loses the next election.

Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, reiterated Pelosi’s worries, telling Salon, “I think Trump will do everything he possibly can to hold on to his power.”

“Remember Trump cannot be embarrassed— cannot be shamed. You can’t appeal to morality, because he has none. You can’t appeal to compassion, he has none. You can’t appeal to the law, he doesn’t care,” Lichtman added. “And if he thinks he can get away with it — absolutely, he will do anything.

Lichtman’s concerns were also echoed by Laurence H. Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb university professor and professor of constitutional law at Harvard University.

“President Trump has sent troubling signals that he might well contest the results of any presidential election he fails to win — and any House or Senate election his preferred candidate fails to win,” Tribe told Salon by email. “Trump has even retweeted his agreement with the absurd and indeed radically anti-constitutional claim by Jerry Falwell Jr. that Trump’s first two years as president were ‘stolen’ from him by the supposedly illegitimate Mueller probe into Russia’s attack on the 2016 election. The ‘argument,’ though I hesitate to call it that, claims that Trump is ‘owed’ an extra two years as ‘reparations’ for the distraction of the investigations into what went awry in 2016.”

I hope he chokes on a bite of BigMac and nobody around him can remember how to do the Heimlich.



Poster crime

May 6th, 2019 9:51 am | By

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, but DON’T WORRY, there is still always plenty of time to arrest people for OffenDing ReLigious SentiMent.

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of offending religious sentiment, after posters bearing an image of the Virgin Mary with her halo painted in the colours of the rainbow flag appeared in the city of Płock in central Poland.

The Polish interior minister, Joachim Brudziński, announced on Twitter on Monday that a person had been arrested for “carrying out a profanation of the Virgin Mary of Częstochowa”.

So Poland has a law against “profanation” does it? So the law is an arm of the church in Poland?

A Płock police spokeswoman confirmed a 51-year-old woman had been arrested over the alleged offence. The woman had been abroad, but upon her return, the police entered and searched her home, where they found several dozen images of the Virgin Mary with the rainbow-coloured halo.

The original image is an icon. It’s in a monastery. The monastery is a big deal. The Guardian calls it “Poland’s holiest Catholic shrine.” One wonders what grading system The Guardian uses to rate the holiness of various Catholic shrines.

Offending religious feeling is a crime under the Polish penal code. If convicted, the woman could face a prison sentence of up to two years.

Oh yeah? Well my religious feeling is offended when cops arrest women for having posters of a woman with a rainbow halo. My religious feeling is that states have no right to enforce religious taboos.

Brudziński, who described the posters as “cultural barbarism” when they appeared overnight in April, said: “Telling stories about freedom and ‘tolerance’ doesn’t give anyone the right to offend the feelings of believers.”

Yes it does. Yes it does. Yes it does. Especially since it appears Poland could do with a lot more stories about freedom and tolerance, and fewer stories about holiest shrines and profanation and cultural barbarism.



“Reparations”

May 6th, 2019 9:16 am | By

Trump appears to be laying the groundwork for a coup.



A fine old conflict

May 6th, 2019 8:58 am | By

Labour Students National Women’s Officer in solidarity with Maya Forstater:



Passively refusing to take an equal role

May 5th, 2019 4:47 pm | By

Still. After all this time.

The optimistic tale of the modern, involved dad has been greatly exaggerated. The amount of child care men performed rose throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but then began to level off without ever reaching parity. Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work.

This isn’t just conservative men who have no aspirations to do their share of child-care work, this is men who think they’re progressive but are still utterly oblivious to how much work the women are doing while they kick back and watch the game.

Though many men are in denial about it, their resistance communicates a feeling of entitlement to women’s labor. Men resist because it is in their “interest to do so,” write Scott Coltrane and Michele Adams, leaders in the field of family studies, in their book, “Gender and Families.” By passively refusing to take an equal role, men are reinforcing “a separation of spheres that underpins masculine ideals and perpetuates a gender order privileging men over women.”

While interviewing working parents for a book on parenthood, I spoke with one dad in Vermont who said: “The expectation among my male friends is still that they will have the life they had before having kids. My dad has never cooked a meal. I’ve strayed from that. But subconsciously, the thing that makes you motivationally step up and do something when you’re not being asked …” he trailed off, and then said: “I have justifications. It’s a cop-out.”

That thing makes me absolutely crazy – that having to be asked thing. Why do they have to be asked? Why are they content to relax and refresh themselves while the women are doing laundry or putting the kids to bed or supervising homework? Why don’t they see that there is work to do and join the women in doing it until it’s done? Why do they wait until they are asked? Child-care work isn’t a favor men do for women, it’s work that has to get done by the parents – both parents.

All this comes at a cost to women’s well-being, as mothers forgo leisure time, professional ambitions and sleep. Wives who view their household responsibilities “as unjust are more likely to suffer from depression than those who do not,” one study says. When their children are young, employed women (but not men) take a hit to their health as well as to their earnings — and the latter never recovers. Child-care imbalances also tank relationship happiness, especially in the early years of parenthood.

Yeah but you know, it’s only women, so pffffffft.



Yeah it is

May 5th, 2019 11:47 am | By



Protected beliefs under equality law

May 5th, 2019 11:44 am | By

Speaking of firing people for not believing that men are women

An internationally renowned researcher on tax avoidance is believed to be the first person in Britain to lose her job for saying that transgender women are not women.

Maya Forstater, 45, was told by her managers that she had used “offensive and exclusionary” language.

Forstater has begun employment tribunal proceedings against her former employer, the London office of the Centre for Global Development (CGD) think tank. She hopes it will be a test case establishing that “gender-critical” views — which hold that being a woman is a biological fact, not a feeling — are protected beliefs under equality law. She is starting an appeal on the Crowdjustice website to raise £30,000 for the action.

It’s beyond me how people can justify firing a woman for holding that being a woman is a biological fact, not a feeling.

She is backed by Index on Censorship, whose director, Jodie Ginsberg, said: “From what I have read of her writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share — that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender.”

In an email, a CGD manager said: “You stated that a man’s internal feeling that he is a woman has no basis in material reality. A lot of people would find that offensive and exclusionary.”

CGD said it could not discuss staffing matters, but all staff “are expected to uphold our respectful workplace policy”.

It’s true that a lot of people would find that offensive and exclusionary, but then it’s also true that lot of people would find pretty much anything you can think of offensive and [insert relevant second problematico-word here]. It should take more than that to justify firing anyone.



The world gets in

May 5th, 2019 11:28 am | By

Sarah Ditum tells us she failed at combating gender stereotypes with her own children. She couldn’t bring herself to let her son age 4 go off to school with painted nails like hers because it could have led to teasing. We can’t just brush that off, can we, because it damn well might have…or, for that matter, though Sarah doesn’t say this, it could instead have led to teachers’ concluding he must be trans.

The idea of letting him break the boy code in such a visible way, and sending him off to school where he might have been teased for it by other children, was too much to take. So I did the work of the prospective bullies before they could. That’s the trouble with “gender-neutral parenting” – the world gets in.

And the world is getting less gender-neutral instead of more so. Who saw that coming?

And it matters. Nail polish is just nail polish, CBeebies is just CBeebies, and a “pretty like mummy” T-shirt is just a T-shirt – but it adds up to a rigorous training in how to be a girl or boy, which turns into strictly held ideas about how to be a woman or man. According to polling for the Fawcett Society to support its newly announced commission on gender stereotyping in early childhood (for which I’m a commissioner), more than half of those who recognised gender stereotyping had affected them said it constrained their career choices, while 44% said it had harmed their personal relationships.

We don’t know how much gender differences in behaviour are innate and how much they’re learned but we do know that much of what we think of as essential is thoroughly cultural. In some societies, women are deemed the chatty sex; in others, men. In some eras, male flamboyance has been the height of masculinity, while other periods have deemed it effete and shameful.

Whatever the shifting rules, they’re inextricably bound to social power and sexism. The stereotypes we absorb as children shape the adults we become. I failed at gender-neutral parenting, but any individual – or even family – alone must fail. The Fawcett Commission report is a chance for all participants to get it right. If we want to create a fairer world for women and men, we need to start with girls and boys.

A fair wind to them.



Only in these days of political correctness

May 5th, 2019 10:04 am | By

Trump is such a genius, nothing escapes his attention. Well ok some things escape his attention, like Puerto Rico and Kim’s missile launches and the dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi and little things like that, but the important stuff is front and center at all times.

Of…political correctness? Is the horse who unfairly won a woman? Disabled? Puerto Rican? What’s he talking about?

The Times explains.

For the first time in the history of the legendary horse race, the horse that crossed the finish line first was disqualified for interference and stripped of its win.

The first-place finisher, Maximum Security, was disqualified because he jumped a puddle on the very wet track and slid to the outside, preventing his rival, War of Will, from moving forward and forcing its rider, Tyler Gaffalione, to squeeze his knees just to stay on his horse.

Erm…I’m not seeing the political correctness. Puzzle as I might, I still can’t see it. Is the idea that sliding on a wet track is accidental and the accidental shouldn’t be disqualifying? But if the physics of it works out to: War of Will would have crossed first if Maximum Security hadn’t slid, then surely that has to do with whatever the rules are.

Of course Trump cheats at golf…maybe that’s it! There’s been a lot of reporting on his cheating at golf, including not just moving his own ball to a better spot but moving the other golfer’s ball to a worse spot – maybe Trump has decided to his own satisfaction that all that reporting is just Political Correctness, i.e. they don’t like him because Political Correctness so they say he cheats because Political Correctness even though it’s true that he cheats but still talking about it is sheer Political Correctness. Therefore Maximum Security’s foul wasn’t a foul, he shoulda won, it’s an outrage!



Oh comrades come rally

May 5th, 2019 9:27 am | By

The ultimate in intersectional wokeness: getting working class people fired.

[Dud tweet because account now protected]

A supermarket security guard and a cleaner on a council estate, fired for “misgendering” and “deadnaming.” A better world is just over the horizon!



Likability in America

May 4th, 2019 4:31 pm | By

Whose big idea was “likability,” anyway? Historian Claire Potter says it was a guy thing.

As Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and others jumped into the race, each seemed to affirm the new power of women in 2019, a power that was born when President Trump was sworn into office, exploded during #MeToo and came into its own during the 2018 midterms.

But no female candidate has yet led the polls. The men keep joining — Michael Bennet this week, Joe Biden the last — and keep garnering glowing press coverage. Although Mr. Biden fumbled two previous presidential bids, we are told he has “crossover appeal”; Bernie Sanders has been admired by this newspaper as “immune to intimidation”; and Pete Buttigieg, who would be the first openly gay man nominated for president, is “very authentic.” By contrast Ms. Harris is “hard to define”; Ms. Klobuchar is “mean”; and Ms. Warren is a “wonky professor” who — you guessed it — is “not likable enough.” Seeing comments like this, Mrs. Clinton said wryly in January, “really takes me back.”

It turns out women just aren’t likable. God knows everyone has tried – tried and tried and tried – but it’s hopeless. Women always have something wrong with them. You can’t always quite specify what it is, but you know you don’t like her.

As presidential candidates put advertising experts in charge of national campaigns, perhaps it was inevitable that likability would jump explicitly to politics. In 1952, some of the first televised election ads sought to highlight Dwight Eisenhower’s likability. The advertising executive Rosser Reeves put Eisenhower in controlled settings where his optimism, self-confidence, humor and nonpartisanship could be emphasized over his political inexperience and what Reeves viewed as his “inept” speaking style.

So he doesn’t know jack shit about governing, so what, he’s called Ike, he’s likable!

Yet if the history of likability in America tells us how important it has become, particularly to politics, it also teaches us there is nothing immutable about a concept that was created and refined by men from Horatio Alger to Dale Carnegie to Roger Ailes. Women haven’t benefited much from the likability standard as it stands. But to recognize that it’s an invention is to dream that they could.

What would it mean if we could reinvent what it is that makes a candidate “likable”? What if women no longer tried to fit a standard that was never meant for them and instead, we focused on redefining what likability might look like: not someone you want to get a beer with, but, say, someone you can trust to do the work?

The overwhelming success of female candidates in the 2018 midterms is a sign that this might already be happening. It was, for many people, a turn to a new kind of member of Congress — female, of color — who could be trusted in the face of a White House that can’t seem to get its facts straight and a president who had proclaimed Washington to be a swamp only to put his boots on and wade right in. If Americans can learn to like and trust women in Congress in record numbers, maybe they can learn to trust women as presidential candidates too — and maybe even like them.

Well let’s not go crazy here.



Tired of being someone’s spirit guide/inspiration

May 4th, 2019 3:36 pm | By

Well now here’s an interesting thread.

Ahhhhhh don’t you love that fifth one? “One of the things I’m coming to terms with in life is that I am going to be seen as this amazing inspiring fascinating person to a lot of people and that’s as deep as any relationship they have with me will go”? I know I do. I love it for its hilariosity and I love it for its evidentiary worth. It can be everyone’s “NOW do you see the narcissism??” resource.

But also…”It’s always just this weird “hey” and I’m expected to accept it.” Oh yes? Is that what it’s always? And you don’t always feel like accepting it? What might that be like, I wonder?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha yeah right, most people who go “Hey I’m trans” give cis women alllllllllll the time in the world to adjust and never call them hard names or threaten them or ostracize them in any way at all. We’ve been seeing that for several years now.

Definitely not. They treat cis women with the utmost respect and generosity and don’t at all bully or silence them for any reason whatever.

If you’re wondering who Kat Blaque is, Wikipedia can help:

Blaque was born in Lynwood, California and raised in Walnut, California. She is adopted.[2] In middle school, Blaque began to question her gender identity and started to identify as genderqueer.[3] She began identifying as a trans woman in college.[4] Blaque graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2012 with a BFA in character animation.[1]

Bless.



The alternative is a world devoid of humour

May 4th, 2019 11:03 am | By

Carl Benjamin is making new enemies. I guess that’s what he wants?

He gave a statement to BuzzFeed:

Once again BuzzFeed position themselves as the progressive joke police. I stand behind David Baddiel’s justification about why any subject can be the subject of a joke. The alternative is a world devoid of humour, the essential tool we use to reduce the horror of events that are beyond our control.

No, it is not. That’s a false dichotomy. We do not have to choose between a world devoid of humor and a world where male political candidates talk about raping female politicians, any more than we have to choose between a world devoid of humor and a world where white political candidates talk about lynching black politicians. We can say that rape “jokes” and lynching “jokes” are right out and still have a vast world of material for humor.

Mind you, he’s got the racist “humor” angle covered too.