Roosh V's "Reaxxian" Website Kicks Off Exciting Era Of Gaming Ethics And Innovation

[PR NEWSWIRE: IRC CHANNEL "CHATEAU ROISSY"] The worldwide computer gaming community reacted with excitement this week at news that gender relations expert Daryush Valizadeh has launched "Reaxxian," a bold new online platform for game journalism.

Valizadeh, best known by his scholarly pen name  "Roosh V.", built a global publishing empire with philosophical works including the best-selling "Bang Estonia: How To Sleep With Estonian Women In Estonia." He is both the financial backer and editor-in-chief of Reaxxian, which aims to combine the gender-equity social-ethical ontological-literary activism that made his name with his devotion to cutting-edge games such as "Starcraft," "Oregon Trail," and "SimPlaymate." "I see this project as a way to overcome inequities and barriers to traditionally excluded groups," said Roosh. "I want to create a safe space for heterosexual males who play video games."

Roosh V. says he's prepared to invest substantial amounts of his Bang earnings to achieve that goal. "I have hired some of the most cogent and disciplined minds of, and they're coding like mad," Roosh explained. "This is a team of the iron-willed. Blue-pillers need not apply." Planned innovations include a commenting system codenamed TOGTFO, which promotes comments supporting masculinity by bombarding Twitter and Facebook with their content, and sends messages of affirmation, acceptance, and brotherhood to their authors. TOGTFO identifies preferred comments through a complex algorithm that assesses spelling, grammar, capitalization, and frequency of use of common dialetical terms including "cunt" and "panties." TOGTFO's media uploading application will make it easy for female readers to comply with Reaxxian's commenting policy.

Reaxxian also promises to be an innovator in trigger warnings. "As part of our safe space policy, we'll have customizable pop-ups that warn readers of potentially upsetting game content, like flat-chested female avatars, implied universal suffrage, pepper spray, or creepshaming," said Roosh. "When you think about it, the entire concept of 'wandering monsters' in computer role playing games is a form of creepshaming."

Reaxxian emphasizes that this project is not intended to denigrate women, the traditional consumers of video game content, but to promote acceptance of men. In the words of Reaxxian team leader "DieFagsDie," "Isn't it time we had a safe gaming space of our own, without outdated and judgmental socio-gender concepts such as 'stalking?'"

But Reaxxian's lofty goals are not limited to merely reviewing games. "We're going to crowdfund male-positive and heterosexual-affirming games too," confirmed a Reaxxian administrator who goes by the handle "StoP3nis3nvy." At launch Reaxxian unveiled an early version of "Alphas of Gor," a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the universe created by noted philosopher John Norman. Reaxxian's readers have eagerly stepped in as game-testers, and Reaxxian forums are busy with constructive criticism of the game's intricacies like "OMG who nerfed negging" and "lolconsent spell cool-down is too long" and "fm merchant npcs standoffish."

Concept art from early build of "Alpha Males of Gor" by Reaxxian Game Studios.

Concept art from early build of "Alphas of Gor" by Reaexxian Game Studios.

Roosh promises that Reaxxian will feature regular strategy guides for its promoted games. "Theodore Beale — Vox Day himself — is working on a newbie guide to selecting the best race during character creation," an enthused Roosh revealed. "Alpha Males of Gor" is not the only game Reaxxian is promoting; there is also talk of Kickstarting a first-person-shooter to be titled "Divorce Court," a remake of "Custer's Revenge," and a children's game under the working title, "Strawberry Shortcake Gets What She Deserves."

The timing of Reaxxian's launch is no coincidence; it will draw traffic from the game-industry controversy referred to as "GamerGate." Roosh joins other prominent thinkers like Adam Baldwin, Milo Yiannoppouos, and Pat Robertson who have recognized GamerGate as an opportunity to explore the important social and political issues raised by modern gaming.

"We're just very excited that another powerful voice has joined our call for ethics in journalism," said ardent GamerGate supporter and Reaxxian fan Kajira Lisa, speaking with the permission of her master, Chad of the Free City of Bakersfield.

Ken White and Patrick Non-White contributed to this article.

Guest Post: Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis On The Rule of Law


Today's guest author, Jim Ardis, is the Mayor of Peoria, Illinois.

Ladies and gentlemen, the rule of law is what separates us from animals and barbarians and people from Joliet. It is that rule of law that I now invoke to prevent so-called "satire" from being used to abuse my person and position.

By now you have heard that someone pretending to be me on Twitter has breached the peace by suggesting that I am some sort of corrupt, disturbed drug fiend. The statements attributed to me have been scandalous, personally hurtful, and textually ambiguous.

Let me clear some things up right now:

  • I am devoted to my loving family and have not "shacked up" in a motel with a so-called "notorious furry."  I do not visit motels because their low thread-count sheets make my skin chafe.  I have not been observed at any motels and if I had been it would have been to visit with community leaders about growing jobs in Peoria's business climate.  I had a soiled fox costume in my car because I was going to participate in a pantomime for children at a local cancer hospital.  My staff's nickname for me is "Swift," not "Yiff."
  • I have not hired any sex workers.  I have nothing against them, and feel our system should do a better job protecting them from harm and providing them with opportunities to better themselves and stop being such fucking liars about important people.
  • I do not have a "drug problem."  Drugs are a scourge of impoverished, powerless, and dark people everywhere.  I am fortunate to be affluent, to have friends, and to know many people in the criminal justice system.  Throughout my career I have strongly advocated that people, including myself, avoid the ruinous consequences of drugs.
  • Interns hallucinate and are prone to sudden unconsciousness.  It's a thing.  You can Google it.
  • I have not accepted cash in low denominations for political favors, as has been claimed.  That's ridiculous.  I am reliable and honest.  Look — I have a lapel pin!

People may believe that they can get away with mocking me or saying unpleasant things about me because of the "First Amendment."  They are mistaken.  Here in Peoria we have a system that respects the law — and respecting the law means respecting the Office of Mayor.  When I was victimized by satire — abused by someone with no regard to my right to self-esteem and dignity — my good friend Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard sprang into action. Could you get the police to devote substantial resources to investigating someone being making fun of you on the internet? Probably not — but frankly you don't carry the burdens of state that I do. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and all that.

With the help of Steve, your tax dollars, scores of police hours, and other resources, we were able to present search warrant applications. First we got a warrant for Twitter from Judge Kirk D. Schoenbein. Good old Kirk understood that "satire" is no excuse for disrespect here in Peoria. Then we went to Judge Lisa Wilson to force Comcast to cough up the subscriber information associated with the Twitter account. Lisa gets it too: who does this punk think he is, making fun of the mayor? Finally we went to Judge Kim Kelley with an application for a warrant to search this asshole's home, and to toss it for drugs while we were at it. And what do you know? They found drugs! Time for this little shit to face some real consequences.

You hear all the time about judges getting all bent out of shape about the First Amendment. So why did three judges issue warrants here? Well first of all, they all understood that as the Mayor of Peoria I am an important man, and my reputation is something that should be protected under the law. Second, I made it clear in the warrant application how just plain mean some of those "satirical" tweets were. Now, some eggheads out there might say that the warrant suggested, on its face, that the tweets were not meant to be taken seriously, and that there's no articulated basis to search for drugs in the warrant. You just remind those eggheads that a Mayor in a town like Peoria can get things done. I know people, and people know me, and when I want a warrant, then by God I get a warrant. I know all of these judges. This is exactly why you cultivate relationships, my friends. That kid in your fourth grade class eating paste and wetting himself during story time may seem worthless to you now, but you never know when he's going to wind up having the power of life and death over people because he's got an inoffensive name and photographs well.

In conclusion: this is a case of the system working the way it ought to. Someone disrespected me, a man of respect. The system turned around and bit him in the ass. That will teach you to think twice about mouthing off about people like me, won't it?

Guest Post: We Must Protect Dedicated Public Servants From Evil, By Arizona State Representative Michelle Ugenti


Hi, I'm Arizona State Representative Michelle Ugenti.

You may know me from my famed rapport with college students or my hilarious masturbation jokes during public proceedings. Today I want to thank the people at Popehat for letting me write a guest post about a subject that is near and dear to my heart: cruelty to respected public servants.

Now, I know that you regard me and my fellow legislators with the high regard and respect that is our natural due. You've seen all that public leaders have accomplished in places like Arizona with our commitment to educational excellence and electoral reform and vigorous but principled law enforcement.

But — and I know that this may surprise you — some people don't give people like me the deference to which we are entitled. Rather than looking to us for wise guidance, some people seem to see us as petty, deeply mediocre squabblers with a perverted appetite for telling complete strangers what to do in the course of amoral self-promotion.

Some of them — this is difficult for me to talk about, but I must go on — some of them mock us. Us. Their elected betters.

Now, we in the Arizona legislature have a lot on our plate, what with America being invaded by foreigners and all. But we've already made strides to put the disrespectful in their place through, for instance, innovative cyberbullying legislation. Our various law enforcement agencies have found their own effective methods or preventing lawless word-violence against them.

But it's not enough. It's just not, people. Recently I have been the victim of so-called "parody accounts" pretending to be me in a so-called "satirical" manner. Let's call this for what it is: political terrorism. Hate crime. Wanton intimidation of dedicated public officials. Hurtfulness. These people and their so-called defenders say that what they are doing is clearly parody, and that no reasonable person would be deceived into thinking that they are actually me. You think that's a good argument? Let me remind you — this is Arizona, populated by people who voted for me, some of them repeatedly. Fuck, these nerve-stapled droolers have voted for Joe Arpaio for 20 years, and he's basically an escaped Kubrick character. How's that "can't be taken literally" argument looking now, huh? Yeah, I thought so.

That's why I am proposing legislation that will make it a felony to create impersonation accounts on the internet to mock people like me — important people that should not be mocked. The law will make it a felony to impersonate someone online "with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten." And let's face it — my self-esteem has been harmed, and I've been intimidated from making handjob references during legislative proceedings. There oughta be a law, and now there will be.

You see what I did with that language in the bill? So-called "free speech" advocates will say that this law "chills speech" and is "vague" and "overbroad" — but all we have to do is say, "are you for fraud? are you for harming? Are you for threatening?" Of course, Arizona prosecutors will be able to determine what "harm" or "intimidate" means — and since this law comes in the wake of "parody" accounts harmfully making fun of me, I think they'll get the message about how to apply it, don't you?

The time has come to stop the disrespect. The time has come to stop the meanness. The time has come to stop the half-truths being spread about me, like how I have a crippling addiction to incontinence medication or how I deliberately swerve to run over squirrels or how I can't watch "Downfall" parodies without becoming uncomfortably aroused. YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITY. Or you will find out how we do things in Arizona.

Thanks for listening. Your papers, please.


We have a Facebook page, which like the gym, the kids, the dog, the cat, the taxes, the rent, and Mom (as she never ceases reminding us) we've neglected.

But we're considering reviving it.  The thought is, Facebook may be a good home for other things we've neglected, things that suffer under the weight of Ken's walls of text, things too delicate for Patrick's sarcasm, things that burn under David's glare. Things like this:

Popehat on Facebook

This will be a supplement to the blog, something like an Island of Misfit Toys, in which things that don't quite make it in will be given attention. It will not displace our Twitter feed, which is mostly devoted to announcing new posts, conversations with other twits, and the inevitable schizophrenic battles between Ken and Patrick, each of whom has access to the account and neither of whom pays attention to what the other has written.

Expect the painfully geeky. If you'd like to follow it, search for Popehat on Facebook, and you'll find us.

Two Years Of Griping, Goofing Off, And Smug Self-Satisfaction

Today marks Popehat's second birthday.  As mentioned on our "About" page, Popehat is really almost five years old, but we were driven underground by our own laziness for a time.  The site reemerged in this form, like a drunken phoenix from a flaming couch, on October 26, 2007.

Laziness remains a problem.  We'd intended to write a "thanks to our readers" post on our first anniversary, then promptly forgot to write it.  We meant to write some sort of retrospective as our thousandth post, but that got delegated to Patrick, who was going through one of his moods, and nothing happened.  Odds are that future milestones will be ignored.

Anyway, two years are twice as much as one year.  And a thousand posts is like a thousand dollars.  It's nice, sure, but it won't help you when your car is broken down on the side of the road because you never change the oil.  Two years, on the other hand, is about a year longer than some very good weblogs have lasted.  So we'll commemorate them.

First of all, we would like to thank our readers, and most especially our readers who comment.  In all sincerity, engaging with commenters is one of the most satisfying things about having a weblog.  The number of our "regulars" has grown over time, and we're very happy about that, in particular because we've been lucky enough to enjoy discussion with some very sharp people, rather than the mongoloids, morphodytes, troglodytes, and mopers who infest some sites we could name but won't.

It wouldn't be fair to name some commentariat and not others, but we will single out one, who has been with us from the beginning and remains with us today:  Alex C., or "Al," from a large city in southern California.  Thanks for your input and throughput Al.  We enjoy your quips, barbs, and humor.  Bless your pointed little head.

Second, while we've been fortunate enough to grow this site (in terms of traffic) from nothing to "small medium" size, we couldn't have done that without help from larger and older blogs.  We've been lucky enough to score links from GIGANTOR VERSUS MECHAGODZILLA VERSUS SHOGUN WARRIOR sized blogs from time to time, but their readers don't stay, and when they comment, well … meh.

But a couple of very large, though non-Japanese-robot-monster sized blogs have been very generous to us in terms of sending traffic, links, and virtual friends our way, so we'll mention them by name:  We'd like to thank the authors of Overlawyered, Patterico's Pontifications, Dispatches from TJICistan, and the League of Ordinary Gentlemen (a very different but most worthwhile group blog which has grown like a weed in the past year – we remember when we steered traffic their way) for their kind words, links, patronage, and readership.  And everyone else on our blogroll, especially the "law bloggers," who send us nice words and traffic even though this is not a law blog.

And now, finally, a selection of posts that we think might prove to be entertaining in some fashion:

The first post that wasn't a rerun from some other site or a meta post:

SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. (Coincidentally, our standard/favorite advice, useful in nearly all situations)

Comments, We Get Comments!

While we enjoy comments, sometimes we enjoy them for the wrong reasons. Take, for example, the following:

One of our first widely read posts, in which we debate the meaning of certain constitutional amendments with the then-insurgent followers of Ron Paul.

Like all bloggers, we get spammers.  When we can find out who they are, we name them.  Occasionally that upsets them.

Sometimes it really upsets them.

And then again, sometimes comments really upset us.  Or some of us.

Other times comments are fun because a famous, or infamous, person shows up, like a writer/director/actor from a kids' show, or a notorious and violent white supremacist, or a jackass who got on a crowded aluminum tube of people while he had a dangerous contagious disease, and decided to sue over it.

Finally, few posts have drawn more irritated people than this one about an obscure lawsuit over a tattoo.

There's No Accounting For Taste

Why do some posts draw huge traffic over the years, and others languish in relative obscurity? It would be nice if we knew, because then we could write those sorts of posts more often. The truth is, though, that you are a fickle and unpredictable audience. One thing is clear: you like stories about outrageous lawsuits and legal threats. That's why two of our most highly trafficked posts were about a jackass suing a volunteer rescue organization and a lawyer threatening to sue a blogger for making fun of a hideously decorated house. A New York ophthalmologist with a mortal fear of peanuts was also quite popular. If you were looking at search engine traffic, our most read posts would be this essay on a PETA official willing her body to melodrama, and especially this quickie about Dora the Explorer's makeover. (We shudder to think how many innocent little girls, Google image searching for their friend Dora, have been corrupted.)

Arts And Letters

The bulk of our posts are about law, politics, and related matters. But we're no mere policy wonks. We're Rennaisance wonks. Readers have been treated to David's thoughtful takes on iconography and leadership and bawdiness in art, Ezra's excellent boardgame reviews and After Action Reports, and one of the first obituaries to appear on the web of a certain irascible Nobel laureate.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks?

One of the cool things about blogging is that you can play investigative reporter without deadlines or responsibility. You can spend weeks researching a post to fact-check some poor bastard at a newspaper without subject matter expertise who was writing on a deadline, or some other blogger who posted something off the cuff. It's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. That doesn't mean that it's any less fun, as we found when we fact-checked the Los Angeles Times on a story about a woman arrested for misbehaving on an airplane, or multiple libertarian bloggers who held up an orchid smuggler as an example of over-criminalization, or multiple blogs breathlessly reporting that a juvenile was being held in some PATRIOT ACT dungeon. It's also fun to use the web to expose bad behavior, as we very recently saw when Patrick investigated the background of a litigious game company. It's even more fun to tweak the government, as we did with a kind assist from a reader in New Zealand (who we still can't name), becoming the first website to violate the order of a silly judge (who claims to be an expert in "cyber-law") barring the internet from publishing the names of two murder defendants.

We Laugh So We Won't Cry

It's not all law and small-l libertarianism around here. We're nothing if not whimsical. But the truth is that we're nowhere near as funny as our kids or complete strangers washing up on our shores.

Moreover, we've learned that humor must be used sparingly. Especially satire. Someone once said that all satire is a joke between the writer and the reader at the expense of a hypothetical third person who is too dumb to know that it's a joke. Except sometimes that third person is not hypothetical.

There's No Place Like Home

We generally try to maintain some level of privacy for ourselves, but Ezra is an exception.  His posts on San Francisco are personal and illuminating, showing sides of city that aren't famous, from crab-mascots to exotic pizza.  Our sole flirtation with the "big leagues" of blogging would not have been possible without Ezra's research and insights into one of the city's most unusual characters.

The Dead Walk!

As we've stated, this is not a law blog.  Of all of us, only Charles is actually an attorney.   At one time, we considered this a gaming blog.  Then Derrick vanished, leaving us without impetus and bereft of gaming insight.  It was a nice ride while it lasted, as evidenced by Derrick's epic two parter analyzing the 2008 elections as a real time strategy game.

Today, to the extent we have a "theme," that theme is whatever we want it to be.  Lately, that means we're a zombie blog. Lots and lots of zombies in fact.  And the bloggers who love them.

Your Friday Afternoon Has Been Missing For Eight Months

One of our early features was ways to waste your Friday afternoon, while you're watching the clock, when you should be working.  We regret the casualty, and will try to bring the feature back this week.  The problem is that while our Monday mornings are dull and dreary, our Friday afternoons are often busy.

Again, thanks for reading.  When the dead walk, we hope that they eat you last.

Blawg Review #233

Welcome to Blawg Review 233.

Everybody understands Mickey Mouse. Few understand Hermann Hesse. Hardly anyone understands Albert Einstein. And nobody understands Emperor Norton.

— Malaclypse the Younger.


Today marks the 150th anniversary of one of the greatest political and legal declarations in American history: the October 12, 1859 decree by Joshua Norton I, Emperor of the United States of America and Protector of Mexico. If we ran the schools, every schoolchild would be required to memorize the words of the only monarch ever to preside over the United States:

It is represented to us that the universal suffrage, as now existing through the Union, is abused; that fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled to by paying his pro rata of the expense of Government–in consequence of which, WE do hereby abolish Congress, and it is therefore abolished; and WE order and desire the representatives of all parties interested to appear at the Musical Hall of this city on the first of February next, and then and there take the most effective steps to remedy the evil complained of.

The evil that Emperor Norton abolished, of course, was the Congress of the United States of America.

Opinions vary on just who Joshua Norton, or Norton I, was. He may have been insane. He may have been a taoist saint. For those who've never heard of the man, we should offer some background on man and monarch Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

Born in England in 1819, Joshua Norton emigrated to the United States in 1849, settling in San Francisco during the California gold rush to begin a career as a merchant. Norton lived his first years in this country as a typical tradesman, until an unfortunate reverse caused by speculation in the Peruvian rice market wiped out his fortune. After a sojourn in the wilderness, Joshua Norton returned to San Francisco and on September 17 1859 declared himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States. Though some considered the "Emperor" insane, the majority of his fellow citizens observed and respected Norton's title. Norton I printed his own currency, which passed as legal tender in the stores of San Francisco, received petitions from grateful subjects, and issued many, many decrees, which were observed to greater or lesser extents.

Norton never put on airs or ruled for self-aggrandizement. To the extent his subjects respected his orders, they did so because it amused them to do so, or (as will be explained below) because they were moral and made sense. In short, Norton was that rarest of creatures: a sovereign who truly ruled with the consent of the governed. Or perhaps he didn't rule at all. Perhaps he was a madman. Either way, Norton represents a vision in stark contrast with the dominant paradigm of western civic thought. Like Lysander Spooner, like Joe Hill, Norton today is revered by anarchists, libertarians, discordians, and other fringe types.

But where Spooner and Hill were crushed by the larger society against which they railed, Norton thrived. He was treated with respect. Norton's "edicts" were obeyed by his "subjects," either to humor the madman or out of recognition of his moral (if not legal) force. He was allowed to circulate his own currency, which passed as real money in San Francisco, where a conventional anarchist doing so would have been locked up. In a surreal sense, Norton spent the latter half of his life reigning as an actual emperor — an emperor by consensus. It was a consensus of love, not of force. The current government of the United States rules by a sort of consensus, and relies in part upon patriotism (itself an expression of love), but also relies heavily upon fear: the fear of taxes, fines, the policeman, and jail.

Contrast Norton's career with those of his rival claimants: James Buchanan and later Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. It's fair to say that none of those worthies commanded respect or consent, as was proven when they drove the United States into a bloody civil war, even refusing Joshua Norton's efforts to mediate the dispute. We believe that America has strayed from the Emperor's wisdom. Where moderates and mollycoddlers call for redressing corruption with a new constitutional convention, we choose to commemorate this truest of American visionaries on the anniversary of his most significant edict, with a call to abolish Congress once more and a round-up of blog posts on law and politics in a world that has betrayed Emperor Norton's legacy of good government.

Universal Suffrage Is Abused.

Scholars record that shortly after Norton's ascension to the throne of the United States, the imperial capital of San Francisco was wracked by spasms of violence against Chinese immigrants. A lynch mob formed for the purpose of attacking the Chinatown portion of the city. Emperor Norton did not share his subjects' prejudices. But where another, lesser ruler in Norton's day might have ignored the problem, or responded to violence with violence by sending in troops, Norton, at considerable personal risk, employed the weapon of a true sovereign: Love. Norton confronted the mob as it was about to enter Chinatown, and stood before it, reciting the Lord's Prayer. Awed and shamed by His Imperial Majesty's courage and wisdom, the mob dispersed, with not a shot fired or a fist raised in anger.

By uttering the Lord's Prayer in the exercise of his official duties, the Emperor necessarily mixed church and state. Today not everyone is comfortable with that mixture. Take, for example, last week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Salazar v. Buono, concerning a memorial cross on a patch of formerly federal land in a national park. The Transplanted Lawyer at Not a Potted Plant had thoughts about oral argument in the case, as did Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice — who contrasted the issues raised in that case with the question of whether it is a violation of a defendant's rights when a prosecutor wears a small cross necklace during a trial. Marc Randazza calls for a little perspective. And John Kindley had a rather blunt, but honest, appraisal of Justice Scalia's performance in particular.

Norton calmed the mob by example, not by threat. Contrast his example with that of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which issued a takedown notice to a t-shirt producer who used subway symbols to lampoon the MTA's poor service. Obvious parody of trademarks is protected as "fair use" and under the First Amendment, unless one is a person of average means looking at the oncoming lights of a lawsuit from a government and its army of lawyers. Of course, the sort of government whose Fish & Wildlife Service has its own SWAT team may need plenty of lawyers to go along with all those cops and guns.


Fraud And Corruption Prevent A Fair And Proper Expression Of The Public Voice.

The people of San Francisco, Norton's imperial capital, loved their Emperor and gave him the treatment that, as their sovereign, he deserved. Norton ate in restaurants as the owners' guest. Norton had free use of the city's livery stables and rails for transportation of the imperial train. San Francisco merchants competed for his imperial favor and approval. Citizens of the grateful city provided a yearly allowance for their Emperor's regalia. Joshua Norton even issued imperial bonds, collected taxes from the people, and printed his own money (payable "by the agents of our Private Estate, in case the Government of Norton the First does not hold firm"), with the assistance of San Francisco printers. Unlike any other government which can be named, America's first Emperor never suffered a rebellion in his own territory.

Contrast Emperor Norton's example with those of governments prevailing in the United States and around the world today, where justice isn't just blind but gagged, or issues from the barrel of a slot machine, or simply follows the money.

Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court questions whether lawyers, of which the United States has no shortage, provide more social utility than scientists, engineers, and inventors. We would respond, as might Emperor Norton, that a nation which has a superabundance of laws requires a superabundance of lawyers. All the more reason to abolish Congress, the leading source of laws. We would also observe that Justice Scalia, evidently no mathematical genius, earned his baccalaureate in history and went on to teach law. If you're either part of the solution or part of the problem, you Justice Scalia, may be part of the problem.

Another part of the problem may be that people involved with the law claim to be what they are not. Norton I indisputably has the best historical claim to Imperium over the United States. Americans respected his title. On the other hand, others grant themselves dubious titles, such as "trial lawyer," which they haven't earned. Scott Greenfield is skeptical of some who wear that title. CrimLaw's response is pragmatic, and Robert Ambrogi urges lawyers to call a spade a spade. In law as in government, deeds are sometimes more important than words.

Emperor Norton lived in a time when liberties often required vindication at gunpoint. We, by contrast, are privileged to live in a time when liberties can often (though not always) be secured through the rule of law. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, has a blog that documents its increasingly impressive string of courtroom successes defending the freedoms of speech, faith, and conscience on America's college campuses, including a recent victory in Los Angeles over a vague and overbroad speech code. FIRE also achieves results through persuading officials to do the right thing, which would have gladdened the Emperor's peace-loving heart.

While talk is better than war, civil litigation is not necessarily fair, and not necessarily free of coercion — it's simply a different type of coercion than one finds at the point of a gun. When he offered to mediate between the states, Emperor Norton observed that merely fighting the tragic struggle between North and South was horrifically costly, even to the victor. Litigation is no different. That's why litigants — and even lawyers as litigants — are sometimes inclined to cave in the face of meritless claims. Too often meritless claims are used to censor speech, as in the recent case of Adaptive Marketing's crusade to expose the identity of a critical anonymous blogger, as discussed at Public Citizen's blog Consumer Law & Policy. In another context, Brian Tannenbaum discusses the trend in the context of clients demanding fee refunds from attorneys. Is the answer a reconsideration of the "American rule" in favor of a loser-pays model? We've made small steps in that direction by, for instance, adopting anti-SLAPP statutes to protect freedom of expression — but alas, unlike Emperor Norton's subjects, not all anti-SLAPP statutes are created equal. And finally, however well-crafted the rules, let us remember that civil litigation — even litigation over mice and bears of little brain, and similar nonsensical matters — can consume decades and millions of dollars.


Open Violation Of The Laws Are Constantly Occurring.

In 1862, Norton I assumed the office of Protector of Mexico, and began to rule that nation with the same loving hand enjoyed by the people of the United States. Sadly, the people of that unhappy country later rejected their sovereign's claims, electing a pretender emperor by the name of Maximilian. Rather than reconquer his lawful domain in Mexico by force, Norton abdicated, observing "It is impossible to protect such an unsettled nation." Nonetheless, Norton's words and deeds resonate abroad to this day, as evidenced by the words of bloggers around the world.

It is unlikely that the Emperor would call our friends to the north "unsettled" — unless, of course, he happened to review the extent to which Canada's leaders have failed to protect freedom of expression. Here at Popehat we've blogged frequently about Canada's appalling Human Rights Councils, which permit bureaucratic persecution of disfavored speech ranging from loathsome to petty. This week Canadian blogger Ezra Levant, an implacable foe of Canada's Human Rights Council censorship regime, testified before Parliament alongside Mark Steyn, and blogged about the experience. And across the pond, Charon QC is troubled by recent technological innovations in the British criminal justice system, while Geeklawyer notes one of the most ridiculous examples of government panicmongering we've seen this year. Across a larger pond, China Law Blog wonders whether American lawyers and clients are working under a misunderstanding: just because the vice president of marketing speaks Chinese, that doesn't make him an expert in Chinese law.


Mobs, Parties, Factions And Undue Influence Of Political Sects.

Norton's reign as Emperor of the United States was marred by the outbreak of conflict within his domain beginning in 1861, when Northern and Southern states elected puppet Presidents named Lincoln and Davis, whose careers are otherwise obscure. Unfortunately for America, each of these interlopers refused their Emperor's offer of mediation and settlement of their obscure dispute, continuing their illegal war and bringing only tragedy. Enlightened Americans today, like Norton I, recognize that civil law is the bedrock of a civil society.

Emperor Norton's legitimacy (and the faith of the people of San Francisco therein) was supported by his unshakable belief that his Imperium was legitimate. Improbable propositions require improbable levels of self-confidence. We've seen such inexorable faith this week in the saga of the quixotic Orly Taitz, who not only believes that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, but believes that she has legally cognizable proof of it. As Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway documents, Attorney Taitz argued that the presence of a man who resembles Eric Holder in a Starbucks near a courthouse means that the Obama Administration is improperly influencing the judiciary. O rly? Though clearly as eccentric as Norton I, Ms. Taitz perhaps does not enjoy the level of high regard earned by the Emperor.

Whether Joshua Norton was a madman, a prophet, or the only legitimate sovereign in American history, the authority he commanded grew from his behavior, which gave rise to moral authority. One man's insanity is another man's wisdom. Norton embodied Lao Tzu's model for a Chinese emperor: When great rulers achieve their purpose, their subjects claim the achievement as their own. We're certain that Emperor Norton would not have approved of the way Police Chief Edward Locke exercises sovereignty over Bella Villa Missouri, and we're pretty sure Norton would have abolished the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for giving Locke a pass under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

Of course litigation, while preferable to gunplay, isn't the answer to every wrong. We think Norton would have appreciated Santa Clara law professor Eric Goldman's non-litigious approach to dealing with a legal spammer: naming and shaming. We're happy to add our page rank to his effort.

Emperor Norton's message was one of engagement, promoting harmony. But are the goals of engagement and harmony consistent with the American ideal of individual liberty? That question was in the air last week as the Obama Administration worked hand in hand with Egypt to break a deadlock in the U.N. Human Rights Council over a controversial resolution about freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Similar resolutions have been kicking around the U.N. for a long time to the dismay of American civil libertarians, who view the concept of "defamation of religion" with great suspicion. Eugene Volokh has some concerns about the revised resolution brokered by the United Sates and Egypt, and Kenneth Anderson questions whether "engaging" on civil liberties necessarily compromises them. Meanwhile Jonathan Turley is appalled by the bargain and what it foreshadows for international attitudes towards free speech, and Index on Censorship is suspicious.

The Citizen Has Not That Protection Of Person And Property Which He Is Entitled.

Joshua Norton made the rounds of his capital, San Francisco, hearing the petitions of his subjects and dispensing wisdom and justice. Norton also made a number of decrees for the betterment of the city, including an order that the citizens should build a bridge spanning San Francisco Bay, to allow easier travel to the hinterlands that today constitute Oakland. Sadly Norton's command was beyond the engineering capabilities of the day, but when the bridge was completed, a grateful populace honored Norton with this plaque:

Norton 002

Pause traveler and be grateful to Norton I. Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico, 1859-1880. Whose prophetic wisdom conceived and decreed the bridging of San Francisco Bay.

Where Norton acted rarely and without haste, today government meddles in seemingly everything. The blawgosphere was confounded this week by news that the Federal Trade Commission plans, beginning December 1, to extend its regulatory hand over blogs and private websites, a regime that frankly seems unneccesary and may be unconstitutional. As Ann Althouse observes, the FTC's regulations will impose more onerous requirements on bloggers than on newspapers and journalists. Walter Olson, who reviews books from time to time, may just abandon or cut back the practice if it means he has to maintain records and receipts for fear of a fine from the FTC. And Colin Samuels has devised a clever disclaimer that mitigates liability while telling the FTC exactly what he thinks of its regulations.

The FTC isn't the only government agency that treads on the First Amendment through regulation. Beck and Herrmann at Drug and Device Law describe the Kafkaesque labyrinth that drug companies must navigate to avoid running afoul of the Food and Drug Administration's regulation of "off-label" pharmaceutical advertising. Do the FDA's regulations infringe on freedom of speech? A recent lawsuit by Allergan may have implications for commercial speech far beyond the medical industry.

Though Norton could foresee the engineering wonder that would become the Golden Gate Bridge, there were many technological marvels of which he could only dream. Norton could perhaps imagine demanding that his subjects produce papers in the real world, but it is doubtful he could comprehend subpoenaing materials from the ether inhabited by difference engines, or grasp the concept of protecting "metadata" from improvident disclosure. Perhaps Norton would not want to imagine the technologically-inspired decision by the University of North Carolina Law School's moot court bench (of which one of your authors is an alumnus) to hold an appellate argument in the virtual world of Second Life. Above The Law covered the mock argument, with an emphasis on mockery. Of course, making an "oral" argument with a keyboard is far from the only legal weirdness the internet makes possible. On the other hand we believe Norton, who ruled through trust, would have approved this post from Legally Unbound on trust and the internet.

It is recorded that in the latter years of his reign Norton offered his hand in marriage to Victoria I, Queen of England and Empress of India. In this Emperor Norton received the full support of his subjects, but history records that Victoria remained a dowager widow, mourning the loss of her consort Prince Albert. Did Norton's cable reach London? Was his proposal thwarted by jealous suitors within Her Majesty's government?

Unfortunately, the records do not tell us, but we know that Joshua Norton was a firm supporter of the institutions of marriage and family. One wonders what Norton would have made of Madireddy v. Madireddy, in which a New York court ruled it could not grant a divorce because it could not determine whether the parties were validly married under Hindu law. Answering another, seemingly insoluble question, Taxgirl attempts to answer the question of why she became a lawyer, and whether a law school education is worth the trouble now, while Law and Motherhood reflects on the problem each generation of lawyers must solve, that of maintaining a practice and being a good parent — a trail already blazed by others.


We Do Hereby Abolish Congress, And It Is Therefore Abolished, To Remedy The Evil Complained Of.

Despite Norton's decree, somehow Congress has managed to reconstitute itself, in clear violation of imperial mandate. This usurper Congress, which is richly deserving of a second abolition, seems hell-bent on imposing its will on the citizen, without regard to the laws or the Constitution. Mark Draughn at Windypundit attempts a taxonomy of what he calls "bogus pseudo-crimes," one expression of Congressional overreaching. But even in the absence of an emperor to curb its abuses, good people can sometimes thwart Congress' worst instincts, as when California Representative Linda Sanchez's Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act was turned back. In the same week,the House passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, as covered by Religion Clause. Whether the act is necessary is up for debate. It seems merely to enhance penalties for existing crimes, rather than creating new crimes. After all, there isn't always an Emperor around when the lynch mobs circle Chinatown.

Lawyers and the courts can also stem legislative abuse. Douglas Berman writes on the Supreme Court's pending consideration of whether a life sentence without parole, for a minor, violates the Eighth Amendment. Grits For Breakfast tells the story of a man officials required to register as a sex offender, even though he'd never been convicted of a crime. A federal jury ruling on the man's suit against the government was not amused. At Cyb3rcrim3, Susan Brenner uses the example of the Facebook "should Obama be killed" poll to discuss cases in which lawyers and courts have prevented the government from using laws against threats to shut down legitimate dissent. Unfortunately lawmakers sometimes strike back, as Walter Reaves observes with a post on Texas Governor Rick Perry's decision to disband the Texas Forensic Commission before it could consider evidence in the highly disturbing Todd Willingham case.

Norton was persuaded to abolish Congress not only because of corruption, but because legislators had exceeded their power. Edward Fallone addresses similar ideas in a modern context, exploring the negative spaces in the Constitution. It's a serious discussion of issues that some dismiss with the sophomoric "Tenther" smear. It is such abuses, things like overbroad laws which encourage needless litigation, or overcriminalization to the point where virtually everything not forbidden is compulsory, that persuade us today that Congress must be abolished.

We'd like to thank the Editor of Blawg Review for giving us the opportunity to enlighten readers about Emperor Norton and his place in American history. We'd also like to thank Colin Samuels for advice and suggestions. Mr. Samuels' fine blawg, Infamy or Praise, joins our blogroll today. Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.