Wednesday News: SCOTUS on criminal threats, Google Photos, whitewashing Hawaii, and a history of the tampon
One interesting aspect of this case that the New York Times article comments on, is the way in which the Supreme Court holds in a very narrow way – rather than drawing a bright line to delineate what, precisely, the legal standard should be in all cases, the Court seems to be chipping away at what isn’t adequate, and by doing so, they were able to sidestep the First Amendment issues entirely, which I suspect was a huge relief to them. If anything, I think this decision may illustrate the discomfort the Court has with policing the Wild West of internet communication. Which in many ways is incredibly frustrating, but a bad and broadly applicable precedent would be even worse.
From the opinion (PDF):
The “central thought” is that a defendant must be “blameworthy in mind” before he can be found guilty, a concept courts have expressed over time through various terms such as mens rea, scienter, malice aforethought, guilty knowledge, and the like. Id., at 252; 1 W. LaFave, Substantive Criminal Law §5.1, pp. 332–333 (2d ed. 2003). Although there are exceptions, the “general rule” is that a guilty mind is “a necessary element in the indictment and proof of every crime.” United States v. Balint, 258 U. S. 250, 251 (1922). We therefore generally “interpret crim- inal statutes to include broadly applicable scienter re- quirements, even where the statute by its terms does not contain them.” United States v. X-Citement Video, Inc., 513 U. S. 64, 70 (1994).
This is not to say that a defendant must know that his conduct is illegal before he may be found guilty. The familiar maxim “ignorance of the law is no excuse” typi- cally holds true. Instead, our cases have explained that a defendant generally must “know the facts that make his conduct fit the definition of the offense,” Staples v. United States, 511 U. S. 600, 608, n. 3 (1994), even if he does not know that those facts give rise to a crime. –New York Times & SCOTUS
“We want to take the work out of photos,” Sabharwal said, noting that it will automatically organize galleries by people, places and things. Inside the app, you can share directly to any service or app, such as Facebook or Twitter. One of my favorite features, however, is a new option that lets you drag and select a group of photos for quick sharing. If you share a gallery of photos, it will take you to Google’s Photos website, which won’t require any login or download on the receiver’s end to view the gallery. That person can then opt to save the entire gallery to his or her Photos app.–TechnoBuffalo
Finally, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans has released a statementcondemning the filmmaker’s decision to cast white actors in all the primary roles. “Sixty percent of Hawaii’s population is [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders],” says MANAA President Guy Aoki. “Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent.”–NPR and Cameron Crowe
There are differing accounts of the whens, wheres, and hows of the earliest tampon-like devices. Women in ancient Rome, it’s been said, fashioned their own tampons out of wool; Indonesian women are believed to have used vegetable fibers to staunch menstrual flow, while rolls of grass are said to have been used in parts of Africa. According to Nancy Friedman’s 1981 book Everything You Must Know About Tampons, Hawaiian women undertook the (presumably itchy) endeavor of using “the furry part of a native fern,” and ancient Japanese women, according to Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport author Jaime Schultz, made tampons from paper, secured them with bandages, and changed these dressings between 10 and 12 times every day.
Some of the earliest tampons recognizable as we know them today—intra-vaginal devices made from a string and a wad of something absorbent—were documented in Europe in the 18th and 19th century. Curiously, these were more often used for purposes other than menstrual management. In some places, tampons were used as contraceptives, and Schultz cites a 1776 report from a French doctor that describes a tampon made from tightly rolled, vinegar-soaked linen that was used to stem the flow of hemorrhage and leucorrhea (non-menstrual vaginal discharge). In the late 19th century, the accomplished U.S. gynecologist Paul F. Munde’s 552-page oeuvre “Minor surgical gynecology: a treatise of uterine diagnosis” described eight distinct uses for the vaginal tampon, the first of which was as “a carrier for the application of medicinal agents to the cervix and vagina.” Only on item eight—after uses like retaining the shape of the cervix to prevent a relapse of a prolapsed ovary—was the absorption of “vaginal and uterine discharges” even mentioned, and nowhere in his section on tampons is menstruation mentioned specifically. –The Atlantic