Kozinski on “Chicken Littleisms” and “Mastodon Skeletons.”

December 2nd, 2013

From Chief Judge Kozinski’s dissent in Minority Television Project v. FCC:

None of those who presented “evidence”—better characterized as Chicken Littleisms—about the calamitous effects of allowing commercial (and political and issue) advertising on public broadcasting took the slightest account of these structural constraints. They all predicted that the lure of advertising dollars would turn public broadcasters into commercial broadcasters. But is it rational to believe that public broadcast stations operated by municipalities, universities and non-profit foundations would risk losing federal funding (and perhaps their FCC licenses) by abandoning their traditional viewership in order to compete with commercial stations for advertising dollars? This strikes me as about as likely as the Smithsonian turning itself into Busch Gardens because it decides that roller coaster rides are more popular than mastodon skeletons

By the way, did you know the etymology of the word mastodon? The dictionary explains:

[New Latin Mastodngenus name : Greek mastosbreast, nipple + Greek odn, odont-tooth (from the nipple-shaped protrusions on the crowns of its molars); see dent- in Indo-European roots.]

In other words, their teeth reminded someone of a breast (mast, same root as mastectomy).

Also interesting is that Koz uses Google short links in his opinion.

The statute’s ban on issue advertising (for which, remember, no one gives any justification at all, see p. 46 supra) is particularly troubling, as it deprives public broadcast audiences of precisely the type of information we expect an informed public to have: how to vote on issues of public importance, http://goo.gl/6CRk3J, http://goo.gl/XLrL9A, http://goo.gl/TL6BQU; the state of public health, http://goo.gl/PXI7am; and the performance and funding of our public schools, http://goo.gl/1BRQJu.

Much more readable, though probably more prone to linkrot.

Update: Orin Kerr also comments on the link shorteners.

A quick Westlaw search finds 9 judicial opinions before today’s decision that use Google’s URL shortener, goo.gl. Several of them use the service for maps, such as this excerpt from Arnette v. Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., 2013 WL 5356869 (W.D.Va. 2013): …

It’s an interesting development, and I suspect it’s one that we will see more of rather than less of in the future.