Highlights from Hair Balls
This is the time of year when the Pilgrims and their big immigration way back when are in everyone's thoughts (mostly because it created an entire holiday revolving around pie), but the Young Conservatives of Texas of the University of Texas has taken this immigration thing to a whole other level.
The group scheduled an event called "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game" in which the participants would compete to catch people in designated shirts, with a $25 gift card awarded to anyone who nabbed an "illegal immigrant" and turned in said immigrant to the Young Conservatives.
While some might see the event as a joke made in incredibly poor taste about a complex issue in this country, it was totally just supposed to make people on the UT campus start talking about immigration, according to the group's Facebook page. "The purpose of the event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives," according to the Facebook description of the event. More than 200 people were said to be planning to attend the event.
Not everyone was as thrilled. "Our worry is that other groups will try to imitate the YCT and the hate they are spreading which could lead to further actions," Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL Houston Inc., stated in a release. "We believe that the struggles that we face on a day to day basis is no joking matter."
Hair Balls tried to reach the UT branch of the Young Conservatives of Texas to get their take on this, but didn't hear back. The group is headed up by Lorenzo Garcia, a former campaign field director for state Attorney General Greg Abbott (a.k.a. the guy who is running for governor). Garcia didn't return a call for comment.
But while the organizers had yet to be heard from, the University of Texas had already issued a statement decrying the game.
A sampler from UT's outraged statement:
"If the members of YCT carry out their plan for 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant,' they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture. And once again, they will have resorted to exercising one of the university's core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives."
And for those not inclined to participate in the game, there would be an alternative thanks to the Houston-based activist organization Librotraficantes. Members of Librotraficantes were headed to the UT campus, where they would be engaging in a game called "You're All Immigrants." In their game, descendants of "illegal pilgrims" would deport themselves to the UT Young Conservatives to collect the $25 reward.
"I hope the students in the UT Young Conservatives club cashed their student loans; there will be way more immigrants than they ever imagined," Tony Diaz of Librotraficantes said.
Eventually the UT Young Conservatives called off the "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" game.
Lorenzo Garcia, the head of the group, said they canceled the event because of concerns "that the university will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers," according to the Austin American-Statesman.
UT President Bill Powers stated that since the country was founded on immigration, they needed to try and be sensitive to the issue. "Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students."
Texas school district allows transgendered student's photo in yearbook.
After a protracted fight, the La Feria School Board in South Texas has decided to allow the formal senior portrait of Jeydon Loredo to appear in La Feria High School's yearbook. The board previously nixed the photo because Jeydon appeared in a tux and is transgender.
Jeydon and his family were first informed his photo wouldn't be running in the yearbook in late October, according to a release issued by the Human Rights Campaign. Initially the family wasn't even allowed physical copies of the photo (because it seems a kid in a tuxedo is so repugnant that a photo of it can't be allowed to exist in the world.)
Maybe not running the photo seemed like a good idea to the folks over at La Feria at the time, but soon after they said the photo couldn't run, the Loredo family had the Human Rights Campaign, a huge organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights, on their side, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Efforts to resolve the issue failed, and that's where having the Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center on their side really came in handy for the Loredo family. HRC launched a nationwide petition to allow Jeydon's photo to run in the yearbook, and when school district officials still didn't get on board, HRC officials threatened a federal lawsuit if the photo didn't run.
An attorney from the SPLC met with district attorneys and agreed to put it in writing that the photo would appear in the yearbook. The school district will also be going one step further, agreeing to follow its own corrective policies for cases of gender discrimination and to provide training for those involved, along with a comprehensive education program for the school community. The district will also expressly include gender expression in its antidiscrimination policies, according to the release. This is all well and good, but it seems to Hair Balls it would all have been a lot simpler if they'd just allowed Jeydon's photo to run in the first place.
East Texas lawyer's anti-Semitic jokes cost Cisco $60 million.
Otis Carroll of Ireland, Carroll & Kelley is an attorney in Tyler, Texas, where the vaunted rocket-docket patent litigation district court sits (a.k.a. as the "Eastern District of Texas," at least one of its "divisions"). Carroll was retained as "local counsel" by Cisco in a piece of patent litigation when it was sued by an Israeli company, Commil.
In East Texas, you don't want some slick Coastie lawyer in front of your jury, you want a local attorney who can connect with the locals. And that's what Carroll endeavored to do in his own East Texas way:
While being cross-examined, Mr. David (the Commil inventor and co-owner) mentioned eating at a barbeque restaurant to which [Carroll] responded "I bet not pork." [Carroll] then went-on to ask Mr. David whether his cousin was a "bottom-feeder who swims around on the bottom buying people's houses that they got kicked out of for next to nothing.
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In closing arguments, [Carroll] began with a reference of the trial of Jesus - saying "You remember the most important trial in history, which we all read about as kids, in the Bible had that very question from the judge. What is truth?"
You can't say those things.
But it gets even worse. In this, the first jury trial, tainted by the anti-Semitic remarks, the East Texas jury awarded the Israeli firm only $3.7 million dollars in damages. But a new trial was ordered because Carroll thought "pork/Jewish" jokes were funny (they're not). On retrial, the jury awarded Commil $63.7 million in damages.
Carroll may not believe in Yahweh, but I bet he now believes in karma.