Irritants du Jour - 2015-04-08

  • Yesterday, the United States Postal Service unveiled a new stamp honoring the late Maya Angelou. It simply features her smiling picture, her name, and a quote:

    "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

    Well, that's nice. But it didn't take much time for people to point out something that should have been caught long before:

    A number of luminaries are expected at Tuesday morning’s unveiling ceremony for the new stamp honoring the late author Maya Angelou, among them first lady Michelle Obama. An 89-year-old children’s book author named Joan Walsh Anglund won’t be there. But her words will be: The quote on the stamp originated with Anglund.

    Not that it matters, but Ms. Walsh is a much paler lady. It appears she's handling the misattribution with grace and tact.

    “Yes, that’s my quote,” Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from “he” in Anglund’s original to “it” on the stamp.

    So not only did they misattribute the quote, but they also "fixed" its non-PC pronoun.

    Your Federal Government (and also the University Near Here) seem to have problems with accurately quoting notable black Americans. At least this one isn't carved in stone or anything.

    Present at the celebration was Nikki "Thug Life" Giovanni, previously seen at Pun Salad here.

  • The University of Michigan will not be showing Clint Eastwood's American Sniper due to some student complaints. The people in charge followed the usual craven template used to justify the stifling of unacceptable expression:

    “While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcomed at our program,” stated The Center for Campus Involvement, which oversees student activities and is run by university employees, as it announced its decision Tuesday on its various social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook.

    To underscore the wimpiness of this cave-in, the replacement movie will be Paddington. Which will only make bears feel unsafe and unwelcomed, so that's OK.

    The University Near Here plans to show American Sniper in the Memorial Union Building next week. At least that's the plan. I don't see Paddington in the schedule.

    For more head-shaking exasperation: Nick G at Reason. At Power Line, John Hinderaker checks out the other movies on the UMich schedule, apparently OK when judged on saftey and welcomingness. And at AEIdeas, Mark J. Perry performs needed (but cruel) editing to bring UMich president Mark Schlissel’s inauguration speech up to date in light of this news.

  • I am inclined to view Rand Paul favorably, but his speech announcing his candidacy contained something really stupid:

    I see an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed.

    As many people have noted, he should have stopped after "equally". Over to Patrick Brennan:

    Now, maybe Paul just meant he wants to get rid of all laws that land people of color in prison at rates higher than the rate at which they commit the crime in question (his campaign didn’t say this, though). The problem with this is that it’s quite hard to say which laws those are, so we can’t just promise to repeal whichever ones qualify. And even if we could determine which laws are applied unequally, that doesn’t mean we should do away with them, it just presents a problem that might be outweighed by the law’s necessity or benefits for public order. There are other ways to fix the unequal application of justice than repealing statutes wholesale. (Indeed, Paul and other conservatives have suggested some of them.)

    It was a cheap pander, more likely to be seen by the panderees as insulting than convincing.