Brickbats

Mathias Bachmeier is serving life without parole for a 1996 murder. You might think that’s what’s keeping him from pursuing his prior career as a police officer. You’d be wrong. The state of California has ruled that Bachmeier can’t return to work because of depression and post-trauma disorder resulting from his conviction. He’s now receiving a $30,000 annual pension.

A Chicano group has launched a protest over the student newspaper at California State University at Northridge. An editorial in the paper endorsed a measure requiring students who need remedial English or math classes to be failed if they don’t pass those classes in their freshman year. The paper didn’t make any remarks about racial or ethnic groups, but the activists say that its meaning is clear because 75 percent of Latino freshmen need remedial math and 70 percent need remedial English. "They’re saying minority students are here and should not be here, and are taking the places of other students that should be here," says Gerald Resendez, chairman of the Chicano Studies department.

Residents of the District of Columbia must pay federal taxes, but they lack voting representatives in Congress (among other elements of self-government). So its City Council just passed a resolution to replace the slogan currently on the city license plates–"Celebrate and Discover"–with a new one: "Taxation Without Representation."

Cruising to a Virginia Beach strip club to celebrate his 23rd birthday, Paris Williams and two of his friends decided to watch a sexually explicit movie on the TVs they had recently installed in their 1997 Hyundai. Unfortunately, a state trooper on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel spotted them and charged them with public display of obscene material. He also discovered–oops–some crack and marijuana in the car.

Last year, a Connecticut law went into effect allowing police to seize the weapons of people they think might pose a danger to themselves or others. Police subsequently raided Thompson Bosee’s home in Greenwich and took 11 firearms that he legally owned. Why did they think he might pose a danger? Because someone had allegedly seen him in his yard with a gun, and when they checked, they found he’d failed to appear in court eight years earlier on a drunken driving charge.

The word history has been deemed sexist and will no longer be used at England’s Stockport College. The school has also banned ladies and gentlemen because of their association with social class. Mad, crazy, and manic have been tossed because they stigmatize mental illness. Man-made is sexist, so it’s out too. And the phrase slaving over a hot stove minimizes the horrors of slavery, so it can’t be used either.

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