Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Definition of "stupid"

So you want the judge to rule your way in a case coming before him at an upcoming trial. So what is your preferred method of doing so? a) Have a good lawyer and the facts on your side, or b) ask your supporters to spam his personal Blackberry email account?

Most of us have a smidgen of brains and would choose (a). But that was too righteous for sleazy infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau, who makes his living by being loud, obnoxious, and brainless. So he chose option (b). And promptly got 30 days in jail for contempt of court.

Lest you talk about "freedom of speech", harassment is not protected speech. Political speech is protected speech. Opinions are protected speech. But it's not legal to harass someone. You can't set up outside someone's home with a loudspeaker and spend 24 hours a day calling him a babykiller, for example. You can stand outside his home for 24 hours a day waving a sign saying that he's a babykiller, but the loudspeaker turns it into harassment and harassment is illegal. Once your speech goes beyond the purpose of communication and ventures into the realm of punishing someone, you've crossed the line. And when you cross the line with a judge... well. That might as well be the dictionary definition of "stupid", heh.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin


  1. Good old Kevin Trudeau. I sort of like him; I hate to admit it. I know he's a charlatan and he's done jail time for fraud.

    But I have a book by him titled "Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About." It makes a lot of sense. He isn't trying to sell anything in the book (I wouldn't buy anything from him). He gives a lot of referrals to other authors, organizations and websites. The book is a little bit on the tinfoil hat side, but among all his lashing out at everybody and his conspiracy theories, I think there's a lot of truth in there.

  2. Thing is, arsenic is natural. It occurs naturally in a lot of drinking water out here in the west. I do not, however, recommend drinking arsenic.

    Most of the "natural" cures have been tested and found no more effective than a placebo. A few -- such as chicken soup as a "cure" for the common cold -- have been found to have positive effect, and if you look through the medical literature you'll find studies validating this (they speculate it's a combination of the salty liquid soothing the throat and the steam from the soup helping clear the nasal passages, it's a small effect but real). Point being, if there's a real effect to a "natural" cure, some scientist somewhere has published it, and for most "natural" cures that is simply not the case, the studies show they're placebos, that's it.

    As for conspiracy theories: the notion of a conspiracy of scientists is about as realistic as the notion of a conspiracy of cats -- scientists are notorious glory hogs each of whom is a legend in his own mind who wants to win that Nobel Prize. They also don't go with the herd. Einstein for years fought with Heisenberg over the Uncertainty Theory, saying "God doesn't play dice with the universe", but reluctantly had to eventually embrace it because every attempt he made to discredit it experimentally instead proved it was true. Cats, my friend. If you believe your cats are conspiring to eat you, you may be dumb enough to believe in a conspiracy of scientists, but that doesn't describe the world we live it, it describes some other world, where unicorns are real and cotton candy grows on trees. 'Nuff said on that.

    - Badtux the Scientific Penguin

  3. But "A Conspiracy of Cats" is such a great concept.

    It should be the title of something.


  4. This is kindof a microcosm of the antisocial tactics of the fringe teabaggers and militia nutballs. They are out to sway the jury of public opinion with veiled (and direct)threats of violence and random mahem. And they can't figure out why society at large greets their freedom-lovin' with the fondness one has for 3-day old unrefrigerated fish.


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

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