Constitutional Law Professor Jeffrey G. Purvis, San Joaquin College of Law


There are write-in advice and answer columns in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and blogs, addressing every conceivable topic. But how many of these openly address fabricated e-mails from "audience" members who are admittedly imaginary? Only one! "Valley Views on the Law," San Joaquin College of Law's monthly legal information radio show on FM 88.1. KFCF, in Fresno, does just that. In the "Dear Professors" segment, I answer the pressing and topical legal questions generated by my own perfervid imagination (along with one actual e-mail from an actual listener) every month, for the edification of the audience. You can also send me an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sadly enough, the October edition of “Valley Views on the Law” will be the final show in its five-year run.  It is a replay of my Constitution Day lecture on September 20st titled "Ban the Muslims! How we can protect America, cement our status as a Christian Nation, and--bonus!--foster hatred and discrimination against Muslim-Americans by selectively barring Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States."  If you missed it, you can still hear it on the SJCL Multimedia Page at http://www.sjcl.edu/index.php/news/kfcf.  Video of the event will also be airing on CMAC.

DEAR PROFESSORS:


Every month on a Thursday afternoon some jackass in our shop turns the radio to Valley Views on the Law, and I have to listen to you idiots spew your liberal whining about everything you don’t like about the greatest President ever, Donald Trump. Then I read this tweet from the President: “So happy that failing fake-news Valley Views on the Law has been canceled! Their ratings worse than Schwarzenegger. Very bad people. Enemies of America. SAD! Covfefe”

I knew then that I had to write you an e-mail so I could be on the final Dear Professors. I checked my Reddit for “alt-left sickos” and found out that your topic is President Trump trying to save America from the Muslim Terrorists. I know that you will EXPLETIVE DELETED all over it like you always do, which just shows for one last time how clueless and stupid you liberals are, and why there will never be Democrats in control again. What can’t you snowflakes understand about preventing Muslim Terrorism by keeping the Muslim Terrorists out of America? Even my mom gets that, and she’s a woman!


So good riddance to you, Professor Purvis, you are a traitor to your race and you always made me want to puke! I’ll kinda miss that Atkinson guy—I liked the sound of his voice. We’ll be coming for you with the Fist of Truth, which in my case is the Confederate Battle Flag and a 12 gauge shotgun.


Joe the Auto Mechanic, Toledo, Ohio

 

It’s always good to hear from Trump supporters, Joe, because you tell it like you want it to be, whether it is or not. I’m not subtle enough to be good at spotting innuendo, but it sure sounds like you just threatened to shoot me because you don’t like my constitutional analysis or my political views. You are a true patriot, waving the flag of our nation’s deadliest enemies as you seek to silence with violence anyone who disagrees with you.


I want to reserve my constitutional analysis for later, but your e-mail does give me an opportunity to address the public policy, as well as constitutional, implications of government action like President Trump’s self-described “Muslim Ban.” The scenario is a law or rule that is said to address a matter of concern that appears legitimate, but the nature of that law raises suspicions that other objectives may be the prime or sole motivator for the regulation. For example, “crack” cocaine was seen as such a serious problem in the last century that the punishments imposed for its possession, use, etc. were increased very greatly. But at the same time, the penalties for using ordinary powder cocaine were not increased, and were thus much lower than for crack.

Statistical evidence, which was not called fake news at that time, showed that crack cocaine was overwhelmingly used by African-American users, while powder cocaine was mostly used by white users. So an African-American crack user could go to prison for many years, while a white cocaine-snorter would face a much milder penalty. Who can deny that the use of crack is a matter of public concern that should be ameliorated? Still, I think it is important to ask whether the purported concern of crack cocaine was influenced by legislators’ attitudes toward African-Americans. Perhaps, as some have suggested, Congress only wanted to protect African-American communities from the scourge of crack cocaine, while powder cocaine presented only a mild threat to people at parties in Hollywood. My point is that the potential that African-Americans were somehow targeted should be of great concern to us all.

Terrorism is a terrible threat, and government should take action against it. A great deal of terrorist activity is done by persons who describe themselves as Muslim. But there have been many kinds of terrorists in the world, including Jewish terrorists in Israel during the British Mandate, Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka, Communist terrorists in Peru, and American terrorists in the United States, all of whom were not Muslims.

When our government takes vigorous action against terrorism, what are we to make of the fact that it acts almost exclusively against terrorists who are Muslims? Would the 160 people killed and 600 plus injured by Timothy McVeigh agree with the potential explanation that non-Muslim terrorists are not worth protecting against?

I’m not saying that the government should not focus its resources effectively, but how is banning every person from certain “Muslim-majority” nations from entering the US an effective way to prevent terrorism? Why was the nation that spawned Osama Bin Laden, and supplied the majority of the 9/11 airplane terrorists, Saudi Arabia, not included in the ban? What about people from Afghanistan, the home of the Taliban? Reasonable people committed to our constitutional system should be very interested in these potential contradictions.

Just as when the government of Mexico began sending its nation’s rapists to America, and we instituted the ban on anyone from a majority-Mexican nation entering the United States, followed by extreme vetting of such persons, it may turn out that a government program that appeared racist was in fact perfectly neutral. If recent political events indicate that openly racist government policies may once again become acceptable, and no longer need to be couched in neutral-sounding language, then worrying about “hidden” targeting of races or religions may not be of public or constitutional interest.

World events suggest that the Confederates and the Nazi’s, and their foreign equivalents, may be on the rise. The first whiffs of a potential for revived militarism can be sniffed coming from Japan. But one thing is sure. When a group like the National Rifle Association says “we are coming for you with the Fist of Truth” to our nation’s press, they are not intending to stage a debate.

So wave the Stars and Bars, Joe! It’s just a wonderful symbol of America’s past, a part of our history we want to preserve and celebrate. No racism in a Confederate flag, or maybe it doesn’t matter whether there is any. There were plenty of good people on both sides of the Civil War. Now where did I put that statue of Benedict Arnold?