Comments: 116 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

krispykrackers9 karma

Hey Emily! I just recently found out about the Gabfest, and am now addicted. You guys are great. What do you feel, in the current state of the country, is the most important issue to solve regarding civil liberties?

EmilyBazelon8 karma

Hey I'm so glad you like the gabfest! We have a great time doing it. I think the most important thing, or at least the obvious first issue to address, is the degree of secrecy around data mining and wiretapping. If we don't know what's happening, how can we decide whether we're ok with it?

krispykrackers1 karma

The lack of government transparency is definitely a problem.

Where do you feel is the line, if there is one, between transparency and actually doing things in secret to protect our people? Like, would it make more sense for them to say "Hey guys, we may or may not listen to your phone calls and read your emails," or does that just negate any sort of good information they're trying to weed out because people with an agenda would find other ways to communicate amongst each other?

EmilyBazelon1 karma

yeah that's the question John keeps asking on the gabfest. I think we could have public access to FISA court orders, as some members of Congress have called for. Even if they were redacted, that would help. and I think the tech cos should be able to tell us the number of requests they get from the NSA specifically and how many users are involved. Those are two starting points that come to mind. But you know, the hard thing about is is that ppl in the govt can always say, if you were on the inside, you'd know why X and Y wouldn't work. And it's v. hard to refute that.

ReturnoftheTrad5 karma

Hi Emily,

I've mentioned this idea to several people before, but it appears that most controversies seem to "bounce off" President Obama. Were this NSA scandal to erupt under the Bush administration, I believe articles of impeachment would have already been introduced.

Do you think that the president will "escape" from this relatively unleaded, and do you think that, were this to happen under a conservative president like GWB, the outcome would be different?

EmilyBazelon12 karma

oh that's interesting. Do you think that the ppl who'd complain loudest under bush are muted because they are generally obama supporters? I've been feeling the opposite: an obligation to speak up bec I know I would have done that under Bush. And I don't think we would hve impeached him. After all, he did a lot of broad datamining and surveillance WITHOUT the stamp of approval from the FISA court, which Obama has. That's another reason maybe why Obama hasn't been as touched. He hasn't obviously broken the law. You can argue that this is counter to the constitution, but that's a little different, absent a court ruling saying so.

Orestus4 karma

Can you please make the Gabfest a bit longer!!! Some of your topics just seem so rushed w/ the short time you give to talk about them. I'm always a bit sad when the new episode loads up and its only like 38 minutes or something. My only complaint about a great podcast.

EmilyBazelon5 karma

wow, that is high praise--asking for more of us. Sometimes I worry that we are running on too long. will take heart from this.

rweisberger2 karma

Hi Emily -

I am one of the people (like David) who is not bothered by the NSA thing.The idea of absolute privacy is an idealistic fantasy (which we seem to have no anxiety about losing every time we do a google search or post on FB), and I have no problem trading it for the tangible benefit of decreased risk. My question to you is - you are now in charge of US security. Would you monitor electronic communications for terrorist threats, and if so, how? And if not, why not?

EmilyBazelon1 karma

David IS bothered. It's John who is more skeptical about all the criticism. Look, I've never worked for the govt. I imagine it would feel different to be on the inside. And I would certainly monitor terrorist threats via warrants--the trad'tl means of wiretapping. The question is, when does the govt need to do surveillance without a warrant?

thejoshwhite2 karma

Hey Emily. I love the gabfest and listen every week. I wanted to know if you've noticed that when people don't like a supreme court decision they are more likely to mention that the justices are "unelected". I wish everyone would remember that that is the point. However, to that point, is there anything that you'd change about how the court works? (Term limits, for example?)

EmilyBazelon4 karma

Yes that's astute. in fact of course none of the justices are elected but pointing it out is often about delegitimizing them. I do think it's a valid critique to make when they are overriding and act of Congress, since that is the class kind of judicial activism. And yes, i am in favor of term limits. I'd do 18 years given my druthers.

trward2 karma

Hi Emily, big fan of the Gabfest- it also led me to all of the great work on Slate, which I didn't really read before listening. When do you think that the public will be able to at least have live audio (if not full video) of the Supreme Court rulings? The current method seems so elitist/archaic. Is there any rational reason for how things are now? Aren't they getting tired of the Scotusblog people running in and out the whole time to deliver updates?

EmilyBazelon3 karma

gah, I could really start ranting about this--you've hit me in a sore spot. it drives me crazy that the court won't at least do live audio. I mean they should do video too, but AT LEAST they should start w audio. Esp since waiting in line for tickets,for the general public, has turned into this ridiculous farce of ppl paying other ppl to stand in line for them. What a racket, and so undemocratic. The court should be ashamed of itself on this front.

el_skootro2 karma

It seems everyday there are announcements of layoffs in big journalistic outlets, and the ones that are succeeding (The Atlantic, HuffPo) basically do so off free content. Will journalism still be a profession in 5 years? What will it look like?

EmilyBazelon3 karma

It will be more of what it is now--a tiered system in which there are stars who get paid a lot, and SOME working journalists in the middle, and then more and more unpaid or low-paid jobs, as you say. It's a paradox: lots of ppl willing to write for free, esp opinion, and fewer places willing to pay for the reporting that's the backbone of it all.

LoboJim1 karma

Emily, I have been a long time listener and for the most part really, really enjoy the slate podcasts. I especially appreciate your insight into SCOTUS issues. However, as a moderate living in Utah, it is often very apparent to me that you "New York Liberals" have no clue about what goes on west of Philly. Any plans on expanding the scope of the gabfest? Still love it, but it would be great to see a bit more cultural /political diversity.

EmilyBazelon5 karma

well, we are who we are, but I take your point. We should try to find the perfect red state guest, to give us a dose of western reality at least once in a while.

yeropinionman1 karma

Unlike "literacy tests," voter-ID laws appear to be applied uniformly across the population in states where they are used. Does this make them okay, or just incrementally less bad than the bad old days?

EmilyBazelon2 karma

Not OK, because they have a disproportionate effect on depressing turnout and registration among young voters, and the elderly, and poor ppl, which means also a disproportionate effect on minorities. And they're purpose seems suspect to me, since the voter fraud they are supposed to stop so very rarely happens.

EmilyBazelon5 karma

I just don't believe in making it harder for ppl to vote. We don't have high rates of voting as it is in the US! We should make the polls as accessible as possible without opening ourself to a lot of fraud. And if you think about it, in-person fraud is an incredibly inefficient way to influence an election. Person by person? that's why no one does it.

MichaelDoyleDC1 karma

Hi Emily. Great job as always. I am curious about your assessment of Chief Justice Roberts. He strikes me as a superb chief: smart, civil and strategic. What do you think?

EmilyBazelon2 karma

I think all of those adjective apply. Also, stealthy and incremental. He is moving the court far to the right one step at a time. So for example in his opinion on the Voting Rights Act last week, striking down Section 5, he cited his own 2009 ruling calling the act's constitutionality into question 37 times, by my count. First, lay the groundwork. Then it looks much better when you invalidate a huge law passed by Congress only 7 years ago, with overwhelming support. Which brings me back to your first word: smart.

EmilyBazelon0 karma

Hey all, thanks so much for your great questions. I love Reddit AMAs! Fabulous group. Did I mention that we are doing a live gabfest in Chicago next week, July 10th? Come! You can find all the info on our gabfest page on Slate. It's at Northwestern law school. John and David and I are very much looking forward to it. Thanks for having me! Emily

Halbrium0 karma

Hey Emily,

Long time gabfest listener. I have heard you guys mention in the past that the fundamental structure of the legislature is flawed in that it encourages inaction. Do you think this will ever be remedied?

EmilyBazelon0 karma

nope. Our Constitution is rickety and old, but changing it is HARD, and I think for most ppl, would be scary. We are going to rise or fall w the legislative structure and balance of powers that we have. Or I dunno, is that too hopeless? when china is kicking our butt, will we scramble things and start over?

karibaumann0 karma

Hi, Emily! I loved last week's episode of the Gabfest, but I was sorry that there was so much other news that you couldn't talk about the adoption case that SCOTUS decided. Did you agree with the decision? Why/why not? (You should do your own SCOTUS explainer podcast on weeks like that!)

EmilyBazelon3 karma

I wrote a piece about the adoption case. I'm having trouble pastin in the link but if you google me and baby veronica indian adoption case, you'll find it. in short, heartbreaking case, no clear answer. But I do think Alito and the majority got it right, as right as it could be got. they read an ambiguous statute in a way that i think is more likely to prevent off more cases like this. They couldn't talk about the best interests of the child explicitly, bec that's not in the Indian Child Welfare Act. But I read them as thinking about how to prevent more children from being taking from the only parents they've known at the age of 2--that's how old Veronica was. I don't mean to imply, though, that at this point Veronica should be atken from her birth father. He has had her from age 2 to age 3 1/2. If he's a good parent, in the eyes of the judge who will have to wade back into this, then it's probably better for her to stay. Not that i really know, of course.

karibaumann0 karma

Thank you, I missed that! What a mess that case is.

By the way, I work in a middle school very similar to one of the ones you wrote about in your book (IB, Title I, PBIS). I am a media specialist so part of my job is teaching internet safety. I enjoyed your book a lot and have been recommending it to my coworkers.

EmilyBazelon0 karma

I am SO grateful, thank you! You know, I skype into book groups that are discussing my book. Happy to do one at your school if there is interest! Just send me mail at my gmail--my name at gmail.

spotupshotup0 karma

if you jokinngly admit to something can the nsa get you into trouble for it.

EmilyBazelon3 karma

if you did it, sure.

lawyerlee0 karma

Given the limitations on what can be revealed about the usefulness of information obtained by the the NSA, do you think we'll ever really know if Snowden did the right thing?

I'm torn between respecting that he believes he was revealing something we all needed to know and thinking he revealed nothing we didn't already know and, as a result, violated his obligations for nothing.

EmilyBazelon3 karma

I think Snowden did the right thing bec I think we're better off knowing what he has revealed. I know the govt says he has seriously damaged nat'l security, but the revelations are broad enough that it's hard for me to credit that claim. I guess I just wonder how many serious terrorists were using these major social media and web sites. That said, I agree that it will take years to know how to think of Snowden as a historical figure. Will he be remembered as an irresponsible maverick, or as someone w Daniel Ellsberg's stature? In his own moment, Ellsberg was villified and faced serious charges. Those were thrown out bec the Nixon administration overreached. I wonder if we'd think of Ellsberg with respect now if he'd become a convicted criminal. I don't think the US has much of a tradition of respecting people who go to prison.

Dookiestain_LaFlair-1 karma

He should be hanged as an oathbreaker after he is given a presidential medal of freedom.

foursheetstothewind7 karma

That's how President Stannis would deal with him

EmilyBazelon7 karma

I really loathe the red lady, or whatever she is called!

foursheetstothewind2 karma

Melisandre! And she would probably have Snowden burned alive. He actually has a perfect GoT name. Definitely of the North.

(I can't believe I am actually joking about GoT with Emily Bazelon)

EmilyBazelon2 karma

omg you are so right about his name. He is made to go walk the wall with John Snow. Who I hope recovers from those arrow wounds!

wvcdad-1 karma

Hey Emily, have you thought of doing a live show in somewhere less politically familiar to you? My one complaint while listening to the podcast is that often the three of you don't seem to be able to even comprehend that someone could disagree with you politically. I listen to every show, but would love to attend one of your live shows if you were to come to Salt Lake City.

EmilyBazelon1 karma

invite us! We go to places where someone helps us set it up and connect with a good sized audience. We've done 2 shows in Purdue, Indiana. We'd be happy to go to more red states.

architect_son-1 karma

Concerning the mining of people's personal information, isn't the NSA openly doing what a ton of other corporations and other Governments are already doing? Further, when individuals have willingly given out their personal information, is it an outside entity's fault for obtaining information that individuals so willingly give?

EmilyBazelon-1 karma

The NSA yes is mining data that corporations mine, ie the tech cos. But the tech cos can't charge us with crimes, right? So for the govt to do it is different. The potential for abuse is higher. I think there's a distinction here about types of info and what ppl put out publicly v. what they have a reasonable expectation of privacy for. It's one thing to assume that anything you post on twitter or FB is public. I think that's the wise approach to take. But your email inbox? I think most of us assume that what we are writing on gmail, etc, is not available for public consumption.

jslberto87-1 karma


EmilyBazelon1 karma

you are so kind, thank you! We can't find snowden because Moscow is helping to hide him. I don't think that's the NSA's biggest flaw. What gives me pause is that this guy had so much access in the first place. We are supposed to trust them to keep all our secrets when they gave him the keys to the kingdom? And there must be many more ppl w the security clearance and access he had, right?

Echoey-1 karma

Big fan, so first off, I just wanted to thank you for your writing. It's always great.

I was going to ask this ask a live show, but didn't work up the courage. It was during the campaign, and the Romney forced-hair cutting thing had just come out. It was also at the tail end of the Tyler Clementi affair. My question is this: which example of bullying do you think was worse?

Edit: spelling

EmilyBazelon0 karma

What do you mean: Which was worse, Romney cutting the boy's hair, or the webcam spying of Tyler?

Echoey0 karma

Yes. It seems like there wasn't much of a link made between what Romney did then and how it would have been treated had it happened today in a world in which we take bullying more seriously.

EmilyBazelon2 karma

ah i see. I wrote a piece about it at the time, and I remember finding the episode disturbing but struggling a bit w applying it to Romney is today. what bothered me the most was his statement that he didn't remember it. I didn't believe him, and though I saw the political reasons for saying that, it would have been so much more powerful if he'd said he'd regretted it and looked back on his teenage self with a sense of regret and contrition. you're right, I think if a kid did the same thing today, he'd get in trouble if he got caught.

nobodypopular-1 karma

Hey Emily, Long time listener to the gabfest and huge fan. The rapport between the three of you is always entertaining. I'd like to know your first impressions of both David and John upon meeting them for the first time? Any funny stories there?

EmilyBazelon1 karma

I love David and John dearly--it's really an enormous well of affection we've built over the years, at least to me, and I can't really think of anything they could do to change that. First impressions: I was hired at Slate by Jacob Weisberg, who works in NY, and then I moved to DC to work out of the Slate DC office, which David ran. at the time he was Slate's deputy editor. so it was like Jacob had sent David this person he hadn't hired and had never met. I remember we walked to lunch in the cold, and he was wearing this funny knit blue wool hat and clearly kind of skeptical of me. and that i could tell he was super smart and also argumentative and quirky. David is pretty much always himself, in my experience. John and I started in the DC office in the same month, so we were like newbie buddies. And at the time the office was like a semi-respectable frat house for geeks. No art on the walls except a poster or two tacked up, and old filing cabinets, and a really gross fridge. So we bonded over laughing about all of that.

IckyIckyPtang-1 karma

Hello Emily, and happy Canada Day from Toronto! I hope you can do a live Gabfest from here sometime soon. :-) What are your thoughts on Snowden's revelations about US intelligence agencies easvedropping on "friendly" countries, such as those of the EU? Personally, I'm surprised that anyone is surprised!

EmilyBazelon-1 karma

Yeah me too. Happy Canada Day back to you. I had a great trip to Toronto to talk about my book last Feb!

yeropinionman-2 karma

Is there a precedent for popular outrage stopping secret government actions that are done in the name of "security?" I think the last time FBI abuses were reformed in a major way the problem was political use of police powers. These new NSA programs target everyone and don't appear to be designed to keep the current party in power. Rather, they are designed to keep "all of us" "safe." Does this make it harder to get our democratic process to reform the system, or are we actually going to get action here?

edited to correct spelling

EmilyBazelon1 karma

I think it's hard to get action because ppl don't feel personally affected, and bec they'd rather trust the govt than not. so often it takes a scandal for reform. Like the Nixon folks going after MLK.

deepwank-2 karma

Hi Emily. I generally enjoy your judicial analyses and your appearances on Colbert, though I feel you should be a bit more aggressive to say what you came there to say.

My question is about the eventual challenge to America's polygamy and group marriage laws. If there is no limitation on the gender of those involved in a federally recognized marriage, then there logically should be no limitation on the number of those committing to the marriage. How do you see this challenge developing in the court systems and what are the strongest legal arguments for and against polygamy? What do you expect the outcome to be? Thanks in advance.

EmilyBazelon2 karma

it's hard to be aggressive on Colbert, but good to push me to try! The strongest argument for legalizing polygamy is that there's no rational basis for prohibiting it. Just adults consensually choosing a different household arrangement. The strongest argument against is that polygamy harms women and children bec there are higher rates of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse. I don't think that's the case in all polygamous communities, but I think there's some evidence of that in the patriarchal ones. The state needs a rational basis to pass a law against polygamy. Greater harm would count I think. If that is in fact true.

Dookiestain_LaFlair-10 karma

You obviously have no idea what it's like to be poor and live in a dangerous neighborhood, where carrying a weapon is essential to your survival, and stand your ground laws are needed to protect poor people from crushing debt that is associated with hiring a lawyer to defend yourself after you take a life in self defense. You are part of the problem if you are against the NRA and the gun lobby who are only out to make a profit but serve a substantial side benefit of supporting stand your ground laws and increased sale of firearms. How do you feel about federal legislation allowing people to wear full body armor in public without having their freedom of movement arrested by law enforcement? It would be a law prohibiting law enforcement from stopping someone for the sole reason that they are wearing armor.

EmilyBazelon0 karma

We have laws preventing ppl from wearing body armor?