That’s all. Just “Ugh.” That’s all I’m saying about the latest attempted coup today
1. What’s going on here? This time, I have no clue. Last week, the U.S. website for Captain Morgan rum was found to be asking visitors to check a box confirming that they were “non-Muslim.” The question was quickly removed, but a different question lingers: Why? Why does Captain Morgan care what religion, if any, a consumer follows?
It is not illegal for Muslims (or anyone) to drink alcohol in the United States, so this appeared to have been related to Sharia law, which does forbid alcohol consumption. . The company swears that “far from being a case of discrimination or an attempt to appease religious zealots, it turns out a technical error was behind the puzzling message.”
That’s obviously a lie: what kind of technical glitch suddenly starts grilling website visitors on whether or not they are Muslim? Someone deliberately added the box. There is speculation that the Diageo company, which owns the Captain Morgan brand, was reacting to a threat from Islamic extremists that violent consequences would befall them if they dared to continue to make alcohol available to Muslims.
That seems far-fetched too, but it’s more likely than a “technical error.”
CORRECTION and UPDATE: There was a lie here, all right, and it was the P.J. Media author Robert Spencer who was the villain. In his article he misrepresented the Metro’s summary of what the Captain Morgan spokesperson said caused the box to appear as the statement itself. This advanced the article’s conspiracy narrative about companies being threatened into enforcing Sharia law, but it was also false. What the company really said was,
Over the weekend, a misconfiguration on our age-gating files for our US Captain Morgan website meant that people were shown our United Arab Emirates age gate window in error. ‘In the United Arab Emirates it is commonplace for alcohol brands to request verification of this kind, in addition to age-gating, in line with UAE alcohol licensing requirements. We corrected this as quickly as possible.’
That made sense, and the mystery is solved. Metro didn’t help by burying that statement after a string of tweets, and I compounded the confusion by not reading the Metro article far enough. A botch all around.
2. Well, it was good to get it off his chest, I guess… Last week Tamarac City commissioner Mike Gelin felt he had to mar an awards ceremony, interrupting it and verbally attacking Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Gallardo as he was being honored as an Officer of the Month. NBC Miami reported that after Gallardo and others were honored, Gelin grabbed the microphone and called out to the officer, “It’s good to see you again. You probably don’t remember me. But you’re the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago. You lied on the police report. I believe you are a rogue police officer, you’re a bad police officer and you don’t deserve to be here!”
Gelin was referring to a 2015 incident where he was arrested resisting and obstructing police while they responded to an alleged battery incident. He was not a city commissioner at the time of the arrest and charges were eventually dropped.
The city’s mayor said, in response to Gellin’s outburst,
“This was neither the time nor the forum to air personal grievances. I believe this clearly violated the City’s civility code. This is NOT the way we treat employees or people who work for our City. There are proper channels to follow, but the Commissioner chose not to use them.”
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but that doesn’t mean that it is always appropriate to serve it at all. It’s an unethical dish at best, and one that usually reflects more negatively on the server than the served. [Pointer: Steve Witherspoon]
3. Solving the moonlight mystery! In this post from June, I discussed the famous “Almanac Trial,” in which Abe Lincoln famously used a farmers’ almanac as a prop to prompt a prosecution witness into recanting his sworn testimony that he was able to clearly see Lincoln’s client fatally stab a man at night because “the moon was full.” I noted that there were widely diverging accounts of how Lincoln used the almanac, some saying he showed the entry indicating there was no moon on the date in question to the judge, others saying that he never introduced the reference at all, but simply used it to intimidate the witness by suggesting that he would introduce it. The latter tactic is known as the phantom document trick.
The disparity in accounts always has bothered me, and by complete accident, I stumbled over the explanation this weekend. My sister, retired Justice Department attorney Edith Marshall, is joining me in presenting a special program on cross-examination for the Smithsonian Associates in October. I was perusing Francis Wellman’s 1903 classic on the topic, and was interested to see that Wellman discussed Abe’s use of an almanac to discredit a prosecution witness, but not in the Duff Armstrong murder trial that occurred in 1858, what came to be known as “The Almanac Trial.”
Wellman tells us that Lincoln had previously used an almanac to win an earlier case, his very first murder trial when he was just starting out as a lawyer. That case involved a shooting rather than a stabbing, and that was the case in which Lincoln revealed what was in the almanac to prove that the eye-witness was lying about a full moon. The trial was sufficiently well-known, however, that Abe figured years later that he just needed to flash an almanac to make the witness against his friend (and, in fact, the murderer) Duff Armstrong crumble, knowing from Abe’s reputation that he was the almanac master.
Yes, Abraham Lincoln represented two different defendants in two separate murder trials in which the key eye-witness claimed, falsely, that he had seen the crime clearly because “the moon was full.” And Abe impeached both witnesses, once by showing what an almanac said, and once by implying with waving an almanac that he could and would.
Over time, the two trials came to be remembered as one.
4. I’ve been waiting for these figures…Earlier this month I was seeing daily references to America’s “urgent gun crisis” and how the escalating “crisis” justified gutting the Second Amendment. One flamboyant call to action was on September 12, when the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.
“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of nearly 150 companies like Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, said in the letter, which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives. It’s a crisis, you see. It’s out of control!
The FBI finally released its violent crime statistics on 2018. Violent crime, including murder, declined significantly last year. From the report,
The 2018 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 368.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,199.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate fell 3.9 percent when compared with the 2017 rate; the property crime rate declined 6.9 percent.
The 2018 violent crime rate was at its lowest since 1971, when there were 396 violent crimes per 100,000 people. In that year, however, violent crime was on its way up. The trend since the early 1990’s has been down. The violent crime rate in 2018 is less than half of what it was at its peak in 1991.
Murders declined at an even greater rate than other violent crimes, dropping 6.2 % from 2017. At 5.0 homicides per 100,000 people, the U.S. homicide rate is near the 50-year low of 4.4 per 100, 000 set in 2014.
But the U.S. has a violent crime crisis! That’s what everyone says on Facebook, so it must be true. They say it on Facebook because the news media intentionally works to make Americans think violent crime is going up when it’s really going declining dramatically. Let’s see what kind of publicity the FBI report gets from a biased media that wants the NRA, the Republicans and the Trump Administration to be seen as child murderers.
Then our cowardly business leaders join hands and pander. They don’t care about facts, statistics, or whether their efforts will cost Americans their rights, as long as it signals their virtue to a prime demographic—the young, ignorant, anti-gun demographic—and sells more stuff. In their ethics-free calculations, its a valid trade-off.
Oh—in considering the attendant false argument that violent crime is on the rise because “there are too many guns,” note that as violent crime has dropped, gun sales have climbed dramatically. Although millions of privately owned firearms have been added to private control over the past two decades, violent crime and homicides receded as gun sales exploded.
Writes gun rights activist Cam Edwards, accurately,
The idea that more guns equals more crime is a foundational tenet of the gun control belief system, but it’s simply not true. We’ve actually had more guns and less crime over the past two decades, and hopefully that trend continues in the years to come.