14 January 2005

Incoherent Further Musings

The Cobb County decision will have some interesting ripple effects. Some of these are obvious, some are not; some are trivial, some are not. In no particular order, so as to maintain the pretense of incoherence trumpeted in the title of this entry and thereby avoid committing an unfair or deceptive act or practice—if you think that's a thinly veiled attack on people who select misleading titles and brand names, you're onto something—
  • Judge Cooper has just eliminated his chances to advance to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals or elsewhere. He will never be forgiven for the opinion. A look at the later track-record of judges who made pro-civil-rights findings in the 1950s and 1960s is sobering enough, before considering that judicial nominations are now far more factionalized and partisan than they were then. No good deed goes unpunished.
  • The publishing industry needs to pay attention to the implications of Judge Cooper's analysis. The bread-and-butter for most mid-major and major publishers is somehow related, directly or indirectly, to the educational market. This means more than just the elementary social science text sort of thing; it includes public and school libraries, and college (and the occasional high school) supplemental and non-text-book readings (remember all of those copies of The Grapes of Wrath that showed up for three weeks in February among the sophomores?). One can anticipate two effects. The first, and most obvious, is going to be redoubled efforts to force publishers to not even publish "objectionable" material. I suppose that means removing Shakespeare from libraries, since there's all that extramarital sex, and smut, and cannibalism, and… never mind. More subtly, though, you're going to see efforts to get publishers to include disclaimers such as the rejected sticker in the front of their textbooks from the very beginning. Some of the publishers out there—I won't name any in particular, but their initials are [censored]—will cave in readily. That, in turn, is going to result in nonsense like Texas refusing to adopt books that do not have such a disclaimer; which, in a cycle driven by the only verifiable faster-than-light communication system, will cause virtually all publishers to do so.
  • Of course, there's a solution that is readily available. Perhaps some enterprising print shop can make sheets of these stickers available for parents to place on their own students' textbooks. Better make sure they're removable, though. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't meet the real objective of the parents in question. They're not worried about their own children. They're worried about everyone else's children. And, unless they can meddle in provide righteous correction of The Other Guys' Kids, it does no good to protect their own children. (The attentive can probably figure out that this objection works both ways.)
  • At least nobody had to be convicted of a criminal offense to reach this result. Remember, kids—John Scopes lost.