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January 14, 2023

Name-calling is never nice. But some names are worse than others.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

We may have a new lodestar for the trajectory of political careers, and it’s bad news for Donald Trump. Saying someone looks like Trump is now considered a form of bullying.

There’s no accounting for racism — or ex-presidentism.

I know this because a federal judge in New Jersey has ruled on a request for summary judgement filed on behalf of student who was disciplined by a school district for bullying another student by saying he looked like Trump.

“The District’s sole factual evidence upon which it relies to defend its actions is that the student ‘felt demeaned’ by the comments and ‘shaved off his hair.’”

You’d think the bullied kid would be happy someone told him this so he could change his look.

The plaintiff in this case, in case you’re wondering, is a Black student who was called ugly and had the n-word directed at him, so it’s kind of understandable he’d clap back with the Trump slur.

Which slur do you think is more offensive?

You can decide for yourself. At least it’s nice to know that kids are paying attention to politics.

A Ninth Circuit ruling published on Jan. 6, 2023, includes images of three trademarks for the Mongols Nation in their case. (Screenshot via Courthouse News)

Revenue source. If you want to look cool — or maybe intimidating — you may be able to get your very own Mongol Nation patch from the federal government.

They’re not available yet, but if the feds are smart — something definitely not guaranteed — they’ll take their cue from a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and monetize the Mongols trademark.

According to the ruling, the government can’t take away the motorcycle club’s trademark as punishment for being an unlawful organization unless title to the trademarks is transferred to the government. The trademarks can be forfeited to the government but not simply robbed of trademark protection.

So if the government goes ahead and takes title to this cool image, it needs to consider merchandising. I’m thinking Mongol postage stamps and “I fought the law and the law won” T-shirts.

You may be wondering why the Mongols were arguing over this. I have no idea how valuable the marks — two of them featuring a guy who looks like a genie on a weird wobbly-looking bike — may be. But, apparently, they’re important to the motorcycle culture.

Noted the court in a footnote: “The phrase ‘full patch’ refers to the Mongols Gang’s practice of issuing incentives, such as tattoos and patches, to reward its members….”

It’s just like kindergarten and the Boy Scouts.

A look back. One of the very few good things about becoming elderly is that you notice — assuming you’re paying attention and can still remember things — that history repeats itself.

What seems bizarre or terrifying now was bizarre and terrifying in some similar form decades ago.

I’ll spare you the obvious examples (war, racism, the most important election ever, etc.). I bring this up because litigation over motorcycle club patches is not a new thing.

Way back in 1986, I interviewed a couple of motorcycle dudes in their lawyer’s office because they had sued a group of strip clubs for not letting them in if they wore their insignia. They (or at least their lawyer) claimed this violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Equal rights are equal for everyone. You can’t refuse service because of skin color, disability, religion or patch-wearing.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the interview except that the motorcycle guys seem perfectly nice or were pretending to be perfectly nice for the guy taking notes, and their lawyer liked to point out that it was weird that a topless joint imposed a dress code.

I don’t know why the motorcycle guys couldn’t have gone into strip clubs without their patches. It must have been a religion thing.

That could explain why decades later patches are still important to guys on motorcycles. History is weird.

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