Here is another of my father’s favorite Sousa marches, “The Black Horse Troop.” I remember thinking about the march when I saw that the riderless horse in my father’s Arlington funeral procession was all black.
1. Let’s start with a fish story…
That’s Tom Volk holding the nearly 17-pound walleye he caught along the Heart River in Mandan, North Dakota. Little did he know that what was briefly a happy experince for him would end up with him being attacked on social media and prosecuted by the state. A fish is considered hooked illegally—it’s actually a crime—if the hook was in the fish’s back rather than its mouth. As soon as Volk claimed the record, he was accused of cheating. The Game and Fish Department opened a criminal investigation. Volk had to hire a lawyer, and the prosecution could have an impact on his career: Volk serves as a city councilman in North Dakota and works in drug prevention for the state government.
Finally game wardens compiled an 11-page report on the fish after conducting witness interviews. The county prosecutor said his office had reached “a consensus view” that the walleye had been improperly hooked. The chief game warden said he was convinced that the fish was “foul-hooked,” but also believed that Mr. Volk might not have known about the infraction until after he left the riverbank. His department issued a written warning, disqualifying the fish from record consideration, but no criminal citation.
The walleye could not be reached for comment.
Volk is selling his fishing boat and having the fish mounted. Somehow, priorities seem to be seriously out of whack here. I’m no fisherman, indeed I find the sport cruel and repulsive, but what Volk was put through seems unfair and abusive. People care about what they choose to care about, but proportionality is an ethical value. From the Times:
Bickering over fishing records is not new. A world-record smallmouth bass caught in the 1950s was the subject of dueling affidavits about whether lead weights were added before it was placed on a scale. In 1984, a near world-record bass in Georgia could not be verified because the fisherman ate it. And in North Dakota, a walleye record that stood for 59 years carried a taint of controversy, with no photos to corroborate it. At least one person claimed that the fish had been found dead, not caught alive.
But new technology and online scrutiny have transformed the disputes. In 2009, a fisherman was required to take a polygraph exam to have his world-record claim certified. (He passed.) Just this month, South Dakota officials voided their record for a channel catfish, which had stood since 1949, after studying photos and determining that the record-holder was in fact a blue catfish.
I don’t know why anyone would claim a fishing record if this is what they have to put up with. There apparently is no Golden Rule in fishing.
2. Now let’s look at the kind of cruelty Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter has wrought…Although the Obama Education Department’s policy of urging colleges and universities to employ a lesser standard for guilt in adjudicating sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations has been repudiated by Betsey De Vos’s DOE, the anti-male and pro-female accuser bias that was already deeply embedded in campus culture continues undiluted in many places.
Marcus Knight on the autism spectrum and a student at California’s Saddleback Community College. He also has cerebral palsy , which requires him to have a shunt in his brain to relieve pressure. The school opened two Title IX investigations against him when one female student complained that he gave her an unconsented -to a fist bump—this is how he has managed to interact in a friendly fashion with students at his previous schools—and another complained that his request to join him in a selfie was sexual harassment. Marcus’s hearings, his mother claims, did not include basic due process. He was suspended, and the Title IX violations remain on his record while he is banned from school activities unless accompanied by his mother or a special-needs aide.
His mother has hired an attorney, a California Title IX specialist , who is suing on the theory that Saddleback’s Title IX officer used evidence in the hearing that had been “never before provided” and denied Marcus the accused’s right to question “the complainant or adverse witnesses” before neutral fact-finders in a “live evidentiary hearing.”
Marcus cannot get admitted to a four-year college unless Saddleback rescinds its findings.
I don’t understand this story at all. In my sexual harassment courses, I often discuss “accidental harassers” who tend to be somewhere on the autistic spectrum. They still have to be dealt with in the workplace, but I would think, wouldn’t you, that a student dealing with both cerebral palsy and autism of some kind might be treated with some compassion when he crosses a school’s conduct guidelines? I haven’t found the school’s account of why it thinks Marcus deserved to be treated this way (or why two women would sic authorities on him if all he really did involved a selfie request and a fist-bump), but unless he had been The Mad Cerebral Palsy Fist Bumping Harasser on campus, this sounds like anti-male viciousness and persecution.
3. See! They told you he was a racist! The latest outrage committed by the Trump Administration is dragging its collective feet and not completing the Obama Administration’s pandering to women and African-Americans—heck, maybe epilepsy sufferers too—by replacing President Andrew Jackson’s likeness with that of Harriet Tubman, the famed Underground Railroad conductor. Jack Lew, Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, announced the decision to put Tubman on the twenty in April 2016, too late to get the change done. For some reason, President Trump didn’t regard this deliberate swipe at the Seventh President, a transformative and important one whether you like it or not, and the equivalent of progressive statue-toppling —I didn’t see the connection at the time, because the Great Airbrushing hadn’t started yet, but that’s exactly what it is—as one of his top priorities, or, frankly, a priority at all. This is an outrage, according to a Washington Post editorial, “Mnuchin’s excuse for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is insulting.” A representative excerpt:
“No one can blame [Lew] for a failure to imagine that any future administration would be so petty and narrow-minded as to go out of its way to thumb its nose at women, minorities and history.”
Of course, removing Jackson is as much nose-thumbing as delaying Tubman’s honor, and Trump’s resistance to following the usual Democratic racial and gender spoils script is no more political than the Post making this another “Orange Man Bad” manufactured controversy.
I have no problem with getting a female, an African-American, or someone who isn’t a Founder or a President on our currency. I also have no problem with honoring Andrew Jackson, who did as much to define the office as anyone. I also have no problem with President Trump refusing to exert himself to complete a purely political pander to the Democratic base by Obama, when Democrats have withheld from him the most basic courtesies and accommodations that any President should be able to expect from the opposing party.