Joe Arpaio orders about 200 illegal immigrants handcuffed together and…
Re "Arpaio critics speak out," Dec. 23
I am angered by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the racist behavior of his deputies in Arizona. For officers to humiliate detained persons by dressing them in pink underwear and serving them discolored meat is immoral.
Even worse is the deputy who allegedly ran over another man with his patrol car. This is not unlike the behavior of the men who dragged a black man to death behind their truck in Texas a few years ago.
Worse is the fact that GOP presidential candidates sought Arpaio's endorsement. Enough Arizona citizens support him that he is seriously thinking about running for the U.S. Senate.
Those who think racism is no longer a problem in America are blind.
Judges feel the heat
Re "Bash judges, threaten democracy," Opinion, Dec. 20
Erwin Chemerinsky raises an important criticism of Republican presidential candidates who call for impeaching judges if they disagree with their rulings, and who promise to ignore decisions they don't like.
The Founding Fathers wrote checks and balances into the Constitution to prevent overreaching by any one branch of government. Without judicial review, there is nothing to constrain an out-of-control executive. Indeed, when President George W. Bush tried to imprison U.S. citizens without giving them due process, the Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional.
The contempt some candidates have shown for the judiciary is alarming. If any of them were to be elected president and made good on their threats, our democracy would be imperiled.
Congress is given the power to create and, presumably, do away with federal judicial offices. If Congress wishes to do away with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it can. Chemerinsky may not like the result, but that does not make it wrong.
The Constitution specifies the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Nowhere does it mention the power to rule on the constitutionality of acts of Congress. The 1803 case Marbury vs. Madison that Chemerinsky cites was possibly a usurpation of power by the court. It was, in fact, an action taken to force Thomas Jefferson's new administration to appoint a Federalist Party magistrate.
Please look at the statements of candidates within the obvious meaning of the Constitution.
Clyde L. Dotson
I don't put much credence in campaign rhetoric as a predictor of how a candidate will behave once elected. But federal judges have often overstepped their bounds in such matters as Bush vs. Gore and the Citizens United case.
Judges need to be held accountable to persons other than themselves. When they fail to follow the law, when they act to promote their own political agendas or when they act in an arbitrary or capricious manner, our democracy is threatened if the judges are not disciplined or impeached.
Chemerinsky correctly defines the dangers in the unprecedented viscousness of the Republican candidates' attacks on judges and the judiciary.
The threshold problem is an American electorate largely clueless about constitutional doctrine and the reasoning that produced a system of checks and balances. We are grossly undereducated about the underpinnings of our own democracy and, as a result, are in danger of destroying it.
Barbara H. Bergen
It's no laughing matter to them
Re "Hitchens gets the last laugh," Opinion, Dec. 22
To say women aren't as funny as men is at best reductive and at worst blatantly sexist.
There are a lot more male presidents than female. With Meghan Daum's logic, you could conclude that men are just better presidents. Or you could take into account that women are just as funny as men but not raised and encouraged to be so. And when they are, opportunities are few and far between.
More than ever we are seeing comedic women writers, actors, directors and producers getting a chance to create platforms for themselves.
Comedy is a man's world. But, like most other men's worlds, it's not because they are better at it than women.
Daum's piece confirming Christopher Hitchens' infamous 2007 Vanity Fair article about women not being funny overlooks the fact that humor is often a linguistic transgression that our society makes more permissible for men. Uttering expletives is not only more acceptable for men, but doing so adds masculinity.
Toilet humor, for example, is virtually a male domain that is considered funny when it comes from a man but vulgar (and certainly not sexy) when it comes from a woman. I remember years ago I went to see a comedian; most of her jokes had to do with toilet humor. Much of the audience left early.
I didn't think she was particularly unfunny; I just think people have a greater tolerance for male humor regardless of how offensive and insensitive it might be.