The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but I think that outright theft is even better―it is, after all, imitation pushed to its logical utmost. Well, I was a very flattered man yesterday, upon discovering that a self-described “Canadian Legal Directory,”, had published verbatim two of my recent posts (the one about H.L.A. Hart and the one about mass incarceration, the originals being here and here respectively)―without asking me of course. My name does appear under the republished posts, along with the bizarre title “IPlogue Editor,” which I do not bear.

Unfortunately, this website contains no information about who stands behind it, or about how they might be contacted. Nor do they seem to have a social network presence. Indeed they barely show up in Google search results.

So. If you know the people behind that website, please let me know how to get in touch with them. And you actually are somehow related to that website, do get in touch―with an apology―and do take down your copies of my posts. You are certainly welcome to link to them, or to make fair use of them―but an integral reproduction does not qualify.

I’m glad that my writing is good enough to be stolen. But I’m not amused at its actually being stolen.

Clawbies Nominations

The Canadian legal blogosphere hasn’t Hollywood’s glamour just yet (we’re working on it, I hear), but it does have its own yearly awards, the Clawbies. Here are my nominations, in no particular order.

Michael Geist’s Blog: hardly needs a presentation, but it is an invaluable resource for IP and internet-related news and analysis.

The Court: all Supreme Court-related news, and good analysis of some interesting court decisions (not just those of the Supreme Court).

Le droit au silence: fighting the good fight debunking the sort of popular misconceptions about criminal law that drive the tough-on-crime discourse and legislation.

Have a look at them, they’re worth your time.


Opus 100

This is my 100th post. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my readers, especially those who, in one way or another, have taken the time to tell me that I was doing something right and/or to keep going.

On the whole, I would rate this blogging adventure as a time-consuming success. Despite some lapses during the last few weeks, I’m averaging close to three posts every four days, most of them of least 500 words. And there is at least some research that goes into most of them too. I don’t know how long I will be able to keep this pace, but I will try. Obviously I have learned a lot doing this. For one thing, I have read a great many cases decided by Canadian courts―from provincial courts to the Supreme Court―since the beginning of the blog in April. For another, blogging has forced me to give shape, coherent shape I hope, to thoughts that would otherwise have remained inchoate and might well have been lost. It is a thinking-out-loud exercise which I would recommend to anyone engaged in an intellectual pursuit, whether you feel like putting the results on the internet for all to see or not.

For myself, I think that doing it publicly was a good thing. Of course, I can only hope I am not making a fool of myself, especially whenever I venture out of my constitutional comfort zone and into internet- and technology-related issues I have only recently begun thinking about. But knowing that some people read what I have to say is great. Knowing that some non-lawyers read when I try to explain legal issues, and perhaps learn something they might find interesting or valuable is even better.

To be sure, some of my own favourite posts, into which I put a lot of thought, turn out not to be popular at all. (By way of shameless self-promotion, my candidate for best-undeservedly-neglected-post is this take on “Judicial Review and Co-Operative Federalism.”) But sometimes I was pleasantly surprised by the popularity of other things I’ve written. (For example here, on “An Ancient Parliamentary Right.”) So, no complaints. I’m just glad to be here.

Thanks for reading me!

Happy Canada Day!

A few quotations to indulge, for a day, in that un-Canadian feeling, patriotism.

“There is room enough in this country for one great free people; but there is not room enough, under the same flag and the same laws, for two or three angry, suspicious, obstructive nationalities.” – Thomas D’Arcy McGee

“[L]et your motto be Canada first, Canada last, and Canada always.” – Sir Wilfrid Laurier

“Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.” – Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

What the Fuck?!

Adam Liptak has an interesting article in the New York Times today, looking at the use of  “[t]he most versatile of the classic Anglo-Saxon swear words” before and by the Supreme Court of the United States. That Court, it turns out is rather prudish: after its decision in Cohen v. California, in 1971,  holding that the slogan “fuck the draft” on a t-shirt was protected by the First Amendment, “the word,” which Mr. Liptak never names, “was used in nine Supreme Court decisions, typically in quotations of something a criminal had said. Its last appearance was in 1993.”

I was intrigued and decided to investigate how things stood in Canada. Well, our Supreme Court is less inhibited, or less tasteful, than its American counterpart. Although it did not get in the game until a year later, (quoting a poem, of dubious literary merit, in which a member of a biker gang let it be known that his and his colleagues’ occupation was to “fuck the world”) the words “fuck,” “fucking,” or “fucked” appear in 29 of its decisions, with no sign of a slowdown. However, unlike in Cohen, nothing much seems to turn on “the word” in any of these decisions; they all belong to the “quoting-shit-criminals-say” variety.

Because, unlike Mr. Liptak, I’m not getting paid for looking for dirty words in judicial decisions, I am unable, for now at least, to push my inquiry any further. But for those interested in the subject, there is an article by Christopher M. Fairman, whom Mr. Liptak describes as the “leading authority on the legal status of the word” in the United States, pithily entitled “Fuck”.

UPDATE: When I publish a post, WordPress volunteers some tags which its algorithms think might be relevant to it. The first one that came up for this post was “occupy Wall Street”. Looks like the movement has a foul-mouthed reputation.