April 20, 2012, 8:07 am
A 1963 protest (Photo from Flickr/CC collection of Cornell U.'s Kheel Center)
I’ve been making trouble lately (neither for the first nor the last time), writing about race (Part 1 and Part 2), and how it is not simply a “socio-cultural construct,” but rather, is simultaneously biologically “real”—at least, as real as the concept of race or subspecies when applied to any other animal species—and yet also trivial in that the traits in question don’t seem to reflect anything interesting or important. Like “subspecies” in all other critters, race is a tricky, slippery concept, one that looks real (like a cloud) from a distance but that dissolves when grasped, and whose boundaries are porous and indistinct. But like clouds (and like it or not) races too are part of our landscape.
June 22, 2011, 4:50 pm
According to The New York Times, a federal appeals court in Manhattan recently overturned a six-and-a-half-year sentence in a child pornography case, saying the judge who imposed it improperly found that the defendant would return to viewing child pornography because of an as-of-yet undiscovered gene. The judge, Gary L. Sharpe of Federal District Court in Albany, was quoted as saying, “It is a gene you were born with. And it’s not a gene you can get rid of,” before he sentenced the defendant.
“You are what you’re born with,” the judge said, overlooking the small fact that such a gene has not—and probably will not—ever be found. “And that’s the only explanation for what I see here,” noted our profoundly ignorant jurist.
It is disturbing when I see my well-intentioned but sadly misinformed colleagues in the social sciences and humanities proclaim about the…