E-mail Scott
Scott's Links
About the Author
Opinion Archives
Vote For Tibbs
Social Media:
Google Plus
Monthly Archives:

January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015

Powered by Blogger
Subscribe via RSS

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

O.J. Simpson gets away with murder -- ten years later

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It has been twenty years since O.J. Simpson got away with murder.

It is a terrible tragedy that Simpson was never put to death for what he did.

Here is a blog post I wrote in 2005 on the ten year anniversary of this tragedy.

Monday, October 5, 2015

RFRA as the standard for religious liberty

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Where should the government defer to religious liberty, and when should it not? I got a couple interesting questions on Twitter that merit an answer. (See here and here.) The purpose of my previous post was not to establish where religion should "trump the law" but to establish the principle that if we value religious liberty (and we do not make the state into a god) there are certain areas where government should defer to people's religious beliefs. Now, where are those specific lines drawn?

I think the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (originally signed into federal law by President Clinton and then passed by a number of state legislatures) is a good standard. Basically, it boils down to this: If government passes a law (even one that applies generally to everyone) that violates someone's religious beliefs, the courts should apply "strict scrutiny" to that law to ensure that the law furthers a compelling state interest and is the least burdensome way to accomplish that compelling state interest.

Obviously, that standard does not and cannot foresee every single possible scenario. I could spend the next ten years writing two posts per day and not cover every single possible application of RFRA and whether certain laws meet both the "compelling state interest" standard and the "least burdensome" standard. Some laws (like speed limits) are obvious and easy. Many more are much more difficult and sometimes may even have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. My point is that "strict scrutiny" should be the standard. But RFRA should be the foundational standard for protecting religious freedom.

Unfortunately, RFRA should never have been needed in the first place. The First Amendment should have been the only RFRA we needed, until a poorly-reasoned Supreme Court decision inspired Congress to pass and Clinton to sign the federal law. The solution should not have been to pass a new law to direct the courts' interpretation of the First Amendment. The solution should have been to impeach judges and justices that did not submit to the strict scrutiny required by the First Amendment.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Being a hardcore literalist is increasingly burdensome in a society that does not believe objective truth even exists, and where everyone has their own "truth."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mentally ill inmates

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 9:30 AM

This is horrific:

Mentally ill inmates are being warehoused for weeks, months and, in rare cases, years in jails around the nation, waiting to go to state mental hospitals where experts determine whether they are well enough to stand trial and treat those who aren't. Advocates say the delays are leaving vulnerable defendants to languish, sometimes with tragic results.

In recent years, a defendant with mental illness was raped repeatedly at the Los Angeles jail as he waited eight months for treatment, according to a lawsuit. Three former guards at the Santa Clara County jail in California have been charged with murder for allegedly beating to death a mentally ill inmate who was waiting for a treatment bed. A third inmate in Washington state committed suicide during a wait for treatment.

Source: The Washington Post.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Apple's ad-blocking and obnoxious ads

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The decision by Apple to allow ad-blocking in the new iOS has stirred a lot of debate and controversy, and it is going to be interesting as it plays out - especially since smartphones account for a huge and increasing percentage of web traffic.

Folks who design banner ads could have avoided this by being less intrusive. When the page becomes unusable because a video plays complete with booming sound, it is very frustrating. That is even worse when you have multiple tabs open and have no idea where the annoying sound is coming from. The Herald-Times, for example, is especially obnoxious with ads. I have clicked on an ad by accident a number of times as the banner ad at the top of the page explodes to fill the entire screen. This is one thing on a free website, but you cannot read the H-T website at all without having a paid subscription of nine dollars per month.

But for websites that rely on ad revenue to keep going, this is problematic. Newspapers get money from both their advertisers and subscribers, but "free" websites rely almost entirely on ads. Increasing ad-blocking may wind up making more sites go to a subscription service instead of a "free" model - if they can stay in business at all. But the fact that this is a popular and desired feature should say something to the advertisers. I am not sure why huge popovers are popular with advertisers. I cannot imagine people actually buy things when they are forcibly redirected to an advertiser's site.

It seems like there should be a good middle ground here. Ultimately, there probably will be as people who program the ads will find ways to defeat Apple's software.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life Chain!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 6:40 AM

The 2015 Life Chain is this Sunday. See the event on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comp time, overtime and the MCSWMD

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I really wish the Herald-Times would actually research and think about what happens in local government before writing an editorial about it. Not only would that be more informative to the H-T readership but it would also be more fair to local government officials. Such is the case with the editorial board's uninformed statement about compensatory time off in the September 22 editorial.

In addition to accrued Paid Time Off that was paid when he left the agency, the executive director of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District had accumulated 54.75 hours of comp time for hours worked above 40 hours in a week. The Herald-Times wrote "So many problems accompany 'comp time' that government should stay as far away from it as possible."

That is a simplistic overreaction. If managed properly, compensatory time (even at 1.5 hours per hour worked) is less expensive than overtime because it requires no extra money from the employer - just additional time off for the employee. In fact, that has been one of the concerns about comp time, because of worries that employees will not get the added money owed them for extra work and will be forced to take time off instead. The problem comes when someone is allowed to accumulate a lot of comp time, because that creates a liability for the MCSWMD - and the taxpayers.

For the MCSWMD, comp time was clearly a better deal than overtime in this case. (For the employer, if not the employee.) Had the former executive director been paid overtime instead of hour-for-hour comp time, he would have been paid 82.13 hours instead of 54.75 hours. For those who are mathematically challenged, 82.13 is bigger than 54.75 and will cost more.

The problem for MCSWMD is not that comp time was allowed. In fact, the 54 hours of comp time was a only 19% of the 290 hours of paid time off. While some PTO accrual is wise (especially in the event of something like an unexpected serious illness) the question should be how much PTO and comp time should be allowed to be accrued. If the payout of over $9,000 for accrued hours is a problem, then the problem is the implementation of the policy, not the policy itself. No policy is going to be perfect if it is not implemented well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Let's not forget that Donald Trump used government as a Mafia enforcer to muscle people of of their property. He is a thief and a thug. We don't need someone like him in the White House. We might as well elect Barack Obama to a third term. I will believe Trump is sincere when he gives back everything he stole - with interest.

I will never vote for Donald Trump.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Peter Shumlin's editorial is typical hysteria

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Note: I submitted this to the New York Times last week.

Gov. Peter Shumlin's editorial is typical of the hysteria that has fueled the War on Drugs for two generations - the same hysteria that leads to aggressive paramilitary police tactics such as dropping a flash bang grenade into an 18 month old baby's crib and maiming him for life.

First, Gov. Shumlin claims are false, and therefore should have not been printed by the New York Times. Pediatricians already have the authority to prescribe OxyContin to children in severe pain. The FDA decision did not "legalize" the practice. What the FDA actually did was provide guidelines for the use of the drug. Whether Gov. Shumlin was uninformed or dishonest, he has proven himself to be unfit for office by spreading falsehoods.

Furthermore, describing opioid painkillers as "poison" is unnecessary hyperbole that is unworthy of the nation's newspaper of record, much less one of the nation's 50 governors. Opioid painkillers are not poison. Someone can poison himself by abusing them, but the drug itself can be invaluable to people suffering severe pain.

I know if (God forbid) my young sons were in severe pain, I would want all options on the table, while carefully considering the benefits and risks of those options. As a father, I should have that choice.

Instead of listening to the fearmongering of bloviating politicians like Gov. Shumlin, Americans should trust the pediatricians who are treating children that may need powerful pain relief. Let the doctors practice medicine, and the meddling politicians need to mind their own business.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Background music

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The year is 2015. It is not 1998.

Can we PLEASE be done with background music on websites, PLEASE?

It serves no purpose. Get rid of it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

That digital clock is not a black-or-white issue

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Social media has lit up with discussion of a 14 year old Arab teenager arrested after bringing a homemade digital clock to school to show off his skills to his teachers. He was arrested and accused of making a bomb threat. So this is obviously racism and persecution of Arabs, right? If this young man had blond hair and blue eyes and his name was John Smith, nothing would have happened to him. But because he is an Arab named Ahmed Mohamed (and his family is Muslim!) he is the target of racist, bigoted cops and school officials.

Not so fast. This story is a lot more nuanced than that.

First of all, go do a Google image search take a look at the clock online. It does look like a number of suitcase bombs we have all seen in movies and video games. It was not a bomb, nor was it presented as such. But in the post-Columbine era, schools do need to take reasonable precautions when a teenage boy brings something like that to school. Just to be on the safe side, the school did need to intervene and raise questions.

There was absolutely non legitimate justification for the police to arrest Mohamed, though. The digital clock may have reminded school officials of a suitcase bomb, but it was not a bomb and was never presented as a bomb. It was a homemade digital clock. The intelligent thing to do would be to confiscate it, give it to the boy's parents at the end of the school day, and tell Mohamed not to bring it back to school. Arresting him was an absurd overreaction that should result in strict scrutiny of the police officers and possible disciplinary action.

Mohamed did nothing wrong, but what he did was unwise. That said, how many of us have NOT done things that were unwise when we were 14 years old?

A bigger culprit here is not racism or bigotry, but absurd "zero tolerance" policies that are better described as "zero intelligence" policies. Far too many young people (as young as elementary school students) have been caught by these "zero intelligence" policies that ban discernment in favor of a strict enforcement of rules even when it does not make sense. Hopefully Mohamed's case will be the spark we need to eliminate this foolishness once and for all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Religious tests

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 AM

Quick lesson on the Constitution:

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Source: Archives.gov.

This is a restriction on government, not a restriction on voters or a restriction on what people are allowed to say.

The government may not implement a religious test as a matter of law, but voters can vote for or against a candidate for office for whatever reason they want.

Therefore, the argument that anyone is acting an an unconstitutional manner by saying he would not support a Muslim for President is completely wrong.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When does religion trump the law?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The Kim Davis case has been made out to be very simplistic by both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, but it is actually much more complicated and deserves to be thought about much more carefully than a #DoYourJob hashtag in a 140 character Twitter post.

Last week, a letter to the editor attacked a Democratic county clerk in Kentucky for refusing to approve marriage licenses for same sex couples.The author closed his letter with the statement "Religion is important. But it does not trump the law." In my comment, I asked: Does that mean you would condemn Corrie Ten Boom?

Predictably, Leftists became outraged by my question. But the Leftists who are outraged miss the entire point. What I was doing was testing the principle that "religion does not trump the law." So if that is the principle, does the author believe Corrie Ten Boom was wrong to hide Jews from the Nazis? Remember, I am not the one who laid out that principle. The LTTE author did. I am testing to see if he really believes it.

Here's the problem with the argument the author makes: It is way too simplistic. Religion does not trump the law, and religion does trump the law. That is the point of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by Bill Clinton in the 1990's. To require someone to violate their religious convictions, the government has to show a compelling state interest that cannot be accomplished by other means. This does not mean that the government may never pass or enforce a law that violates religious principles, only that it faces strict scrutiny when doing so.

In some cases, people have been prosecuted and executed for "obeying the law," such as when soldiers commit war crimes. Saying they were "just following lawful orders" does not mean they did not commit a crime.

No, I am not saying Kim Davis is the moral equivalent of Corrie Ten Boom. And yes, I admit that I used an extreme example. But I used an extreme example to make a point: That there is a line where someone can use his religion to justify disobeying the law. Once we establish that there is a line, we then begin the hard work of determining where to draw that line - sometimes on a case-by-case basis. That is not the easy way out, so it is understandable why people would prefer Twitter hashtags to difficult philosophical questions.

When religion can be a legitimate reason to disobey the law (legally or philosophically) and when it cannot be used as a reason to disobey the law requires a much more complex and sophisticated thought process than simply making the state into a deity in and of itself. Because when you say "obey the law" above and beyond anything else, then you place the civil magistrate above God, and make the government into a god.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Republicans must not nominate Donald Trump!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Note: I sent this letter to the Indianapolis Star last week.

When Donald Trump was asked about partial-birth abortion in 1999, the very first words that came out of his mouth were "I am very pro-choice." It has been a while since partial-birth abortion has been discussed nationally, so many may not know what the procedure involves. Here is a refresher: The baby (in the second or third trimester of pregnancy" is delivered feet-first until only the head remains in the birth canal. The abortionist stabs the baby in the head, sucks out the brain and crushes the skull.

Trump has recently claimed to have converted to a pro-life viewpoint, just in time to run for President as a Republican. Does anyone actually believe that his "conversion" is genuine?

Trump supported the abominable Kelo vs. City of New London decision in 2005, in which the Supreme Court literally rewrote the Constitution's protections of our private property rights. Thanks to SCOTUS (supported by Trump) the government can now forcibly confiscate your home and give it to a private developer. Trump, of course, has used government to take people's property so he can build on the ground where his victims' homes used to be. No wonder he opposes private property rights.

Trump is not a conservative. And given the thousands upon thousands of dollars he has donated to Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, Trump cannot make a credible claim to being a Republican either. Republicans need to wake up. Do not nominate this man to lead our party in 2016.

Monday, September 21, 2015

West Third speed bumps representative of poor planning

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The streets of Bloomington are city property, maintained by taxpayers. That means those streets belong to all of us, not just a favored few. It is too bad that five of nine city council members did not agree with that when they voted to install additional "traffic calming" devices on West Third Street - a street already covered by bump-outs that severely restrict traffic flow on a public street. The bump-outs would be more accurately called traffic impeding devices. I took pictures of the "traffic calming" devices in 2012 and posted them online. I re-posted them on Facebook on September 13.

It is understandable why people who live in the neighborhood would want the bump-outs installed, and why they would want to re-direct traffic to other streets. They have a First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances, and the city council should take them seriously. But the councilors are to look out for the interests of the entire city, not the narrow interests of one politically favored neighborhood.

The West Third traffic impeding devices are a microcosm of a backwards attitude in city government when it comes to public infrastructure and moving traffic. The goal of street design should be to move traffic in an efficient and safe manner. The goal should not be to funnel traffic onto other streets to give a political favor to a specific group of people. The traffic impeding devices on South Lincoln Street are another example of this backwards mentality.

This was a bad decision by the city council and should be reversed. If you have a subscription to Herald-Times Online, you can see more on this issue here and here and here and here and here and here.