Best of Overlawyered — June 2017


  • On cultural appropriation: There are already examples of a ban on cultural appropriation in the US. One cannot create native american art and sell it as native art unless you are certified by the US government as a member of the appropriate tribe. This does not always work out well for those who are mixed race or not living on a reservation. It does not stop people from doing such art who do not claim it is native art.
    If you succeed in banning appropriation of art/music styles, the net effect is to vanish the presence of tribal peoples. We see in the US that any depiction of native americans in art is claimed to be racist, even when it is neutral or positive. There are movements to ban sports teams from using indian references or mascots. The net effect if successful is to erase many references to the existence of native americans from US history. This is one of those unintended consequences.
    One way to assess the extent to which a law makes sense is to imagine rigidly enforcing it: you get the absurdities that are being demanded that white authors may not include non-white characters in their novels (or even men may not include women characters) as this is appropriating the “lived experience” of the minorities. This leads to rigid race segregation in novels which will also be decried. You get claims that only minorities can cook ethnic food–but that cat is out of the bag long ago. Is American pizza an Italian ethnic food? I don’t think so. Music that is not popularized will die out.

  • On cultural appropriation: I know, let’s put the “indigenous peoples” on special tracks of land that are reserved for them (we can call those “Reservations”) where they can live undisturbed by the culture, language, science, medicine and technology from European based society. We can see how well that works out (again).

  • Stop using math, that clearly belongs to the Greeks… a2+b2=c2 is even named for one… After all, isn’t appropriation the same whether it’s culture, technology or language? Guess the Fed needs to rename the tomahawk missiles and the Apache helicopters… Sure that there are other examples as well… Or maybe the liberals need to remove their head from wherever they happen to have put it.