Category: Opinion

The Movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was Good, but Should It Exist?

This past Christmas, Focus Features gifted audiences with a sex-y film. “On the Basis of Sex,”— known more widely, perhaps, as “the movie about RBG”— made its debut on Dec. 25, 2018, in theaters across the country.

Set during the 60s and 70s, “On the Basis of Sex” traces the early years of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career and family life, depicting her experience at Harvard Law School and Columbia, her balance of caring for her family and studying, her resolve in the face of adversity and her pursuit of justice.

Despite my immediate suspicion after seeing the trailer that the movie would be wrought with standard Hollywood leftism, I ventured to the theater to see for myself. The film surprised me.

Frankly, I thought it was excellent.

Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer brought young Ruth and Martin Ginsburg to life with strength and chemistry, granting the audience glimpses into the grit required for the task of mastering law school while simultaneously balancing a relationship and family. Further, from a strictly technical perspective, it worked cinematographically. Cohesive color patterns and interesting shots emphasized themes and harsh realities, artistically demonstrating mid-19th century sexual struggle and triumph.

Critics, of course, readily voiced their complaints, berating the script and the characterization. The consensus emerged: It’s “well-intentioned, but flawed.”

My favorite part about the movie was that it dramatized a singular, important event in history— a time when women genuinely were not treated equitably under the law and when condescension and objectification of women prevailed as the norm. The movie wasn’t simply about RBG’s life. It was about a moment of resolve and principle in the journey of a young woman— an exemplary story about righting a wrong and overcoming injustice.

It was this fact that evoked the most criticism: the movie didn’t do justice to the icon, the “legend,” that is RBG.

“Is the film worthy of her?” writes Joe Morgenstern in a Wall Street Journal film review. “Not really. It’s informative, in a didactic way, but basically an exercise in hagiography, a skin-deep celebration of someone who has never settled for superficiality in her life’s work.”

“‘On the Basis of Sex’ fails to make the case for its subject’s exceptionalism,” he added.

Simply put, the film did not include enough hero worship.

Which leads me to my primary problem with the film: that it exists in the first place.

Like I said, the movie itself was exceptional, but the audience and critics awaiting its arrival with reverent anticipation were not looking for a good story. They were not waiting for historical exposition. They did not want to see a successful wife, mother, and lawyer play out those three roles simultaneously on the screen. Seeing a heroic moment in the women’s movement was not enough.

They were awaiting the apotheosis of the “Notorious RBG.”

This film appeared on the heels of another Ginsburg memento, “RBG,” a documentary released earlier in 2018 chronicling the Supreme Court Justice’s career. Although the movies differed in nature and apparently in intent, elevating a SCOTUS justice to a near-divine status and romanticizing her life’s work by repeatedly immortalizing her on the silver screen— while she continues to serve on the Court, no less— contributes to the polarization of an already politically charged office that was never intended to be so.

The fact is that the office of Supreme Court Justice was established to narrowly interpret the law, not for activism, law creation, or politicization. By worshipping a public servant, we radically change the perception of the office into something it was never intended to be and into something from which we may never recover.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 years old. She has accomplished more in her lifetime than most people will and has made many notable marks on history, but she will not be around forever. Because of this movie and her documentary, when she is replaced, it won’t be an appointee for a retiree. It will be an appointee for a celebrity.

When that hostile day arises, as it inevitably will, that a new justice steps up to take her chair, I have no doubt we will look back at these films as fuel that set the emotional, political fire ablaze.

This article was originally published on Lone Conservative.

#Empowerment to Me

“The future is human. It isn’t female.”

By now, you’ve most likely heard Lynzy Lab Stewart’s viral feminist diddy, “A Scary Time.”

The song was inspired by Donald Trump’s comment that it’s a “scary time for young men in America,” during the Kavanaugh debacle. The video rapidly caught public attention–NowThis picked it up, and Lynzy even performed the song live on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

“It’s time for women to rise up, use our collective voice,” she sang.

That voice may not be as collective as she and other feminists would like to think.

For some women, empowerment looks a little different.

Tired of the genital hats? Wish Kamala Harris would bring it down a notch? Is the Constitution your “jam?”

This parody might be for you. . .

To All the Men Who’ve Changed My Life

I’m beginning to think our country is far less divided than we are just hell-bent on dividing it.

Consequentialism has become the base motivator, resulting in the demonization of countless good things. Just as long as a noble end goal can be reached, casualties can be expected and must be accepted as part of the “worthwhile” cost.

I don’t know exactly what feminism is anymore. I don’t think feminism knows what feminism is, frankly. But for every wronged woman seeking equality and justice, an entire mob follows to avenge her alleged wrong with a no-holds-barred War on Men.

At its worst, this climate is scary for innocent men, and at its best, it’s discouraging.

I’ve long been skeptical of feminism, but the last few weeks have brought times of soul-searching—of me reflecting on my experience as a young woman. Am I viewing men through rose-colored glasses? I wonder. Are they keeping me down? Have they actually taken advantage of me?

Sure, I have my own stories that stand out in my mind—denied opportunities, inappropriate and unwelcomed behavior, verbal indecencies, and scary situations. But those have, without-a-doubt, been the exception to the rule.

Honestly, the more I reflect, the more convinced I become that I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without the line-up of extraordinary men in my life.

I regret this has not been every woman’s experience. Sexual abuse and harassment are alive and well, and plenty a powerful man has taken advantage of women both sexually and professionally to get ahead and to gratify himself. For that, there is no excuse.

It’s important to note, however, that those are not the only men we know. In fact, they are not most of the men we know.

This narrative is one of hope, both for women who feel hopeless about the existence of good men in the world and for those good men who have gone unnoticed, or worse—rallied against.

This is the story I stand for. This is the narrative I speak.

To all the men who’ve changed my life, thank you.

Can a Bail Bill Give Hope to the Dying Art of Bipartisanship?

Out of the unbearable stagnancy of the Congressional health care impasse, one Democratic senator from California has just emerged with a legislative proposal of a different breed. Together with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Kamala Harris has proposed a bipartisan bill intended to reform one of the many broken pieces of the criminal justice system: bail.

This bill, cited as the “Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017,” aims to incentivize the reform of state bail systems by offering grant money to those states and Indian tribes which discontinue the use of money bail as a pretrial release condition. The bill would allow for $10 million to be spent annually per state for three years on grants for bail system reform.

While this price tag may evoke embittered resistance from the average taxpayer, a deeper analysis of the criminal justice system and current fiscal trends unmasks the economic practicality and necessity of such a proposal.

One of the primary objectives of bail is to create an incentive for defendants to re-appear at trial. If a defendant appears at trial, he is able to recollect the money previously posted for bail. In the same vein, pretrial preventive detention seeks to protect public safety. However, evidence suggests that as many as 50% of pretrial detainees considered to be a “high risk” to public safety acquire release through money bail. Inherent systemic flaws—such as those resulting in the release of high-risk defendants based solely on criteria of affluence—shine a glaring light on the vast disparities between intents and outcomes.

Not only do monetary bail systems undermine the foundations of preventive detention, but they appear to violate the terms of the 1983 landmark Supreme Court case, Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660, which forbids “punishing a person for his poverty.” Bearing in mind the previously discussed issue of high-risk defendant release, money bail accomplishes less in the way of protecting public safety and more in the way of rewarding the well-to-do and punishing the indigent. In addition, the Sixth Amendment provides for a defendant’s presumption of innocence, placing the burden of proof on the prosecution. Therefore, pretrial detainees are lawfully innocent and should be treated as such. Adding insult to injury, during the pretrial detainment, defendants who are unable to afford bail may undergo unseen afflictions such as loss of employment due to un-forecasted time away from work, lack of access to health care, inability to prepare a trial defense, etc.

How can Congressmen justify to their constituents the spending of $10 million per state on bail grants? A careful look at the hidden costs of the current system makes $10 million look like pocket change. In her bill, Harris reveals the nationwide monetary burden of pretrial detention. Presently, pretrial detainees comprise 95 percent of growth within the jail population since 2000, costing taxpayers $38 million daily and $14 billion annually. While the new bill would only be a starting point and certainly would not eliminate all pretrial detention costs, even its marginal monetary trade-offs and savings would most likely prove favorable for taxpayers in the long run.  

How exactly does the proposed bill de-incentivize pretrial detention and utilize grant money? In short, the bill seeks to incentivize states to use the least-restrictive means to accomplish their desired ends. One key element of the bill is the provision for the “presumption of [the defendant’s] release in most cases.” This element overcomes current systemic failures, minimizes detention costs, and upholds the Sixth Amendment. In order for such presumption to occur, a portion of the grant money would be designated to research-based pretrial assessments that objectively measure the risks associated with releasing each defendant.

Supposing the bill passes, civilians can rest assured that pretrial defendant accountability would not be abolished. On the contrary, the new bill would implement more cost-effective and noninvasive supervisory methods, listing “court date notifications by phone call, letters or postcards, text messages, [or] in-person reminders” as potential options. Recognizing that pretrial detention is necessary for defendants who actually pose risks to public safety, Harris’s bill includes three-prong right-to-counsel criteria for states wishing to qualify for grant money. In other words, for cases in which preventive detention seems necessary, states must ensure the detainee receives a hearing with a judicial officer, counsel, and clear and convincing evidence that he poses danger or risk.

While complex components of the criminal justice system cannot be reduced to simple equations and graphs, Senators Harris and Paul demonstrate in-depth analysis and forethought in their proposed legislation. While many politicians and the media continue to spin on the polarized hamster wheel of health care, taxpayers would do well to consider the potential unseen benefits of bail system reform legislation.


This Just in: Gender-Reveal Parties Are Dangerous for Children!

In addition to raising the bar of absurdity, Cosmopolitan’s recent article, “Dear Parents-to-Be: Stop Celebrating Your Baby’s Gender,” single-handedly shatters the primary tent poles of modern feminism. In this episode of “The Kylee Zempel Podcast,” Kylee deconstructs the article and points out the inconsistencies of modern feminists and the left.