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Sex and Eugenics Sterilization

In looking through Johanna Schoen’s 2005 book, Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare, it appears that, although eugenics-based sterilization procedures in the early-to-mid twentieth century appear to have targeted women more than men, men were also sterilized through these programs.

October 2014 / 4 min.

The “third-party problem”: one reason telegrams were not constitutionally protected

Unlike postal mail or, later, the telephone, telegrams never received constitutional protection. Yet they were the quintessential nineteenth-century technology of communication, used extensively for business, government, and personal communication, much of which both senders and receivers would have wished to keep to themselves.

January 2014 / 2 min.

Universities UK, sex segregation, and the public-private distinction

Misunderstanding the different balances required in private vs. public spheres was one of the fundamental misunderstandings of the recent Universities UK guidance, which argued that speakers’ freedom of religion and speech could trump anti-discrimination laws at on-campus debates – meaning that audiences might be segregated by sex.

December 2013 / 4 min.

Musings on law, technology, and privacy

I’ve been working on my dissertation for a few months now (it looks at American privacy law over some 150 years, and investigates how technology interacts with that law). Some of that work will emerge here in draft form eventually, but for now I’ve been thinking about the theoretical/critical framework for my work. Much of this framework will be implicit – since I’m writing a dissertation in history – but it will guide me nonetheless. It will develop throughout the writing process, but here are some initial thoughts.

December 2013 / 3 min.

NSA spying is not clearly unconstitutional

I’ve been noticing a trend to call the activities of the NSA – as revealed by Edward Snowden – “clearly unconstitutional.” I disagree.

August 2013 / 4 min.

The irony of liberty of contract: normalizing federal intervention

“Liberty of contract” had originally been envisioned as a means of protecting individual rights from government interference, but decisions implementing it ended up justifying federal government intervention.

July 2013 / 2 min.

“I can’t help myself, I’m a man” – rape apologia, circa 1840

Does this rape defense sound familiar to anyone else? “Man is susceptible to the inclinations of the female sex.”

July 2013 / 1 min.

Of MOOCs and Luddites: teaching and the limits of technology

It seems like everyone is talking about MOOCs. According to proponents, massive open online courses will revolutionize higher education and turn traditional academics into the hand weavers (and potential Luddites) of the twenty-first century. But can the efficient delivery of talking heads to far larger audiences than permitted by even the largest lecture halls, all without the geographical constraints of physical buildings, really replace today’s in-person classrooms?

July 2013 / 4 min.

Embracing the Opposition: The Conservative Appropriation of Liberal Critiques

I have put up a paper I’ve been working on, “Embracing the Opposition: The Conservative Appropriation of Liberal Critiques,” that explores the appropriation of the critiques and rhetoric of liberals and progressives by modern conservatives.

June 2013 / 1 min.

Jurgen Habermas on the public sphere, the state, and the private sphere

Jurgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher. He is perhaps most well known for the concept of the “public sphere.” Contrasted against this sphere are the state and the private sphere.

December 2012 / 4 min.