William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 15, December, 2009

Futher Thoughts on the Bill of Rights–Jews in the Attic Test

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 10:25

Joe Huffman came up with the Jews in the Attic test in 1999, but I think that it has stood the test of time. It orginally applied to government actions, but I think it is more broadly applicable than that. It can apply in times and places where there is no law or government, such as Rwanda during the massacres. In short, the test is this, my additions are in brackets:

Will this law [action] make it difficult or impossible to protect innocent life from a government [or mob] intent on their imprisonment or death? Although I pretty much made everything up on the spot I told them I called this test my “Jews In The Attic Test”. Furthermore I told them that if it fails this test no further discussion is really needed, the law must be opposed in the most vigorous manner possible.

From searches without probable cause to data mining and universal health care, it is amazing what might be used against you.



  1. First, the following query is _not_ about you or your views, but bit of genuine puzzlement: So why are so many conservatives so against laws allowing vigorous prosecution of hate crimes? Data mining _might_ in the long run prove my undoing, but a guy with a bat deciding he doesn’t like my life is a much more concrete concern.

    Why should someone out of the closet be less safe than a “Jew in the attic”?

    [and yes, I realize this is a bigger cultural debate than your blog needs to host. I don’t meant to have this sorted out _here_!]

    Comment by rethoryke — Tuesday, 15, December, 2009 @ 16:50 | Reply

  2. Hate crimes? As opposed to those “I-really-like-you” kinds of crimes?

    Comment by Heather — Wednesday, 16, December, 2009 @ 15:04 | Reply

  3. By the way, after *cough* years in health insurance, I can tell you that your health information ain’t that private NOW, since there is an enormous loophole in HIPAA that allows insurance companies and law enforcement access to your private records for any reasonable purpose.

    Even in payment, your health information isn’t just between you, your doc, and your insurance company. No, the insurance company may well send the claims out to a third-party repricer (or two or three or four) to try to get a deeper discount — and that information includes everything else on the claim — diagnosis, treatment, dates of service, and so on.

    Privacy is a joke.

    Comment by Heather — Wednesday, 16, December, 2009 @ 15:09 | Reply

  4. Yes, I’ve known people in Pink Pistols, and I respect those choices.

    To build on what bluntobject was saying, there’s a difference between a crime of “I want your wallet, therefore I will beat you up for it” and “You represent something I despise [homeless person, member of ethnic or religious group, gay person] and therefore I will beat you up to show my power over your entire group.” That does seem more like terrorism [we will attack people, symbols, cultural institutions that _represent_ your way of life; we will strike fear into all of your kind] than like your average mugging.

    I’d agree that people’s thoughts are their own business — but thoughts that erupt into violent action, and the type of those violent actions, do seem to be a legimate problem.

    Change of topic:

    Ironically, I lived in the attic of a Jewish household all through graduate school. One day the first floor of the house was robbed, but I was studying on the third floor and heard nothing until the police officer and my terrified landlady came up the stairs to see if I was alive.

    Comment by rethoryke — Thursday, 17, December, 2009 @ 09:03 | Reply

    • Rhet- I smell what you are metaphorically cooking. I would like though, to make sure that reciprocity is in place. That is, if someone beats ME up because I represent something he despises, that would also be treated as a hate crime just the same as if I were a member of another, traditionally despised group. Otherwise, we are all equal under the law, but some are more equal than others.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Thursday, 17, December, 2009 @ 14:52

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