Worth Reading - 6/3

It isn’t illegal to withdraw money from the bank, nor to compensate someone in recognition of past harms, nor to be the victim of a blackmail scheme. So why should it be a crime to hide those actions from the U.S. government? The alarming aspect of this case is the fact that an American is ultimately being prosecuted for the crime of evading federal government surveillance.

That has implications for all of us.

By way of background, financial institutions are required to report all transactions of $10,000 or more to the federal government. This is meant to make it harder to commit racketeering, tax fraud, drug crimes, and other serious offenses. Hastert began paying off the person he allegedly wronged years before by withdrawing large amounts of cash. But once he realized that this was generating activity reports, he allegedly started making more withdrawals, each one less than $10,000, to avoid drawing attention to the fact that he was paying someone for his silence.

Again, the payments weren’t illegal. But as it turns out, structuring financial transactions “to evade currency transaction reporting requirements” is a violation of federal law.

2. A Title IX inquisition. When a liberal feminist is tried by a kangaroo court for arguing for sanity and responsibility:

I wrote back to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights — was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a “support person” from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t be informed about the substance of the complaints until I met with the investigators.

Apparently the idea was that they’d tell me the charges, and then, while I was collecting my wits, interrogate me about them. The term “kangaroo court” came to mind. I wrote to ask for the charges in writing. The coordinator wrote back thanking me for my thoughtful questions.

What I very much wanted to know, though there was apparently no way of finding it out, was whether this was the first instance of Title IX charges filed over a publication. Was this a test case? From my vantage point, it seemed to pit a federally mandated program against my constitutional rights, though I admit my understanding of those rights was vague.

3. Carl Trueman critiques the unwritten assumptions expressed in a recent article at the Washington Post. His critique of the subtle misrepresentations and sleight of hand represented by the author are telling:

An article in the Washington Post last week (“How to break free from monogamy without destroying marriage”) described the dynamics of an open marriage and the various “apps” now available for facilitating extramarital relations. The amorality might have been shocking twenty years ago but today such well-traveled territory likely provokes little more than a yawn. Yet the article is still instructive for what the author’s analysis (or lack thereof) tells us about contemporary culture. Indeed, it is a classic example of what happens when your side in the debate is utterly dominant: You become lazy and put forward obvious stupidity as if it were compelling argumentation.

4. Here is the article to which Trueman was responding, which asserts monogamy is a recent invention that can be casually done away with:

“If you look at marriage, it developed as a survival strategy and a means of raising kids,” Wade said. “But relationships are no longer a necessary component of life. People have careers and other interests — they can survive without them.”

That’s not wrong, says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading relationship researchers. In the caveman days, humans teamed up in non-exclusive pairs to protect their children. Later, as people learned to plant crops and settle in one place, marriage became a way for men to guarantee kids, and for women — who couldn’t push heavy plows or carry loads of crops to market — to eat and keep a roof over their heads.

There’s a long history of married men sleeping around, Fisher said. And the romantic notion that relationships are anything but transactions is relatively recent — as is the social expectation that both people partner for life, to the exclusion of everyone else.