Posts Tagged ‘racism’

Monday Medley

What we read while not wearing hoodies in THIS weather…

The Onion and Apologies

The Onion

 

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but The Onion is kind of a cunt, right?

For anyone who’s missed the controversy surrounding the satirical publication, it began over an Oscar-related tweet that called the nine-year-old star of Beasts of Southern Wild a cunt. Within an hour, the tweet was deleted, but by then of course millions of The Onion’s followers had already seen it, and many had retweeted it. People like Wendell Pierce and many others criticized the paper, and the next morning its CEO issued an apology for the tweet.

Now, I should say that I don’t think the joke was very good: It was crude and simple and basically relied on the shock value of calling a little girl the c-word, so I can see why many found it offensive. But I also think the ideas behind the joke—that Quvenzhané Wallis is so adorable and beloved BUT that Hollywood often turns quickly and cruelly on child stars—-are perfect subjects for The Onion’s brand of satire. The product wasn’t good, but the thought behind it was fine. Continue reading

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #44: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

Hey, remember the Bob Dylan Rankings? I haven’t done one in over a year and a half, but now it’s back (at least, for today). I’m abandoning my old self-imposed chronology, and I’m going back to writing about whatever song strikes my fancy. Today’s song: “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” 

(Also, YouTube has really cracked down on Bob Dylan songs, so most of the videos will have to be covers or live versions.)

“I revere Bob Dylan, but is that an awful line, or what? Who in the hell philosophizes disgrace? Who does this speak to? Do you think there is anyone in the world who gets up in the morning and says to himself, ‘I think I’ll go and philosophize some disgrace today?’ What does that even mean? It’s not that it’s vague in the sense that Dylan is so often marvelously vague and evocative. It is more like it is specific but clumsy. It doesn’t sound good… It’s awful. It’s not a particularly good song, although Dylan’s admirers will soberly insist that it is a great song, and I suppose they are entitled to their opinion.” —Bill James

Yes, Bill James, I am entitled to that opinion. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” is a great song—though not one of Bob Dylan’s best—and the clumsiness that James identifies is part of what makes it great.

“Hattie Carroll” is a remarkably literal song. It starts with the simple, matter-of-fact line, “William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll” (and by “starts” I mean it really starts with that line—the first sound, before any music, is Dylan’s nasally voice spewing out that clunky name), and proceeds to tell the story through a bunch of meandering, rhyme-less clauses strung together somewhat artlessly—the word “and” is sung 31 times. All the stretched out sentences and nested clauses make it somewhat hard to follow, but the gist is clear: William Zanzinger, a rich young Maryland landowner killed Hattie Carroll, a black servant, by hitting her in the head with his cane at a white tie function where he was a guest and she a servant. Though he was convicted of the crime, he was sentenced to only six months in prison. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while ESPN got a little carried away with the Jeremy Lin jokes…

Monday Medley

What we read while turning down the Donald Trump debate…

The Drawing Board: The Death Penalty

There’s a new fad sweeping the nation, and for once I’m ahead of the curve. It’s called the death penalty, and it’s the reason you woke up this morning with your face intact. Where at one time an escaped serial killer would more than likely have murdered you in gruesome fashion while you slept, you’re now probably going to live, so you can finally relax. No more revising your last will and testament every night. No more questioning why you’re setting your alarm when you’ll probably be long dead by the time it goes off. No more putting on your best-looking clothes before bed so you’ll look nice in case you die and an attractive stranger finds your body. And who can we thank for these lifted burdens? Well, there’s some debate as to who created the death penalty, but it’s probably safe to say they got the idea from YouTube.

But what is the death penalty? Well, here’s how the whole thing works: A guy kills somebody, the government kills him, and now the guy can’t kill anybody else, see? Sure, the government keeps killing, but they stop once all the killers are gone, except for themselves. So it’s not a perfect system, but it reduces the number of killers in the world from millions of disparate, elusive individuals to a single, unstoppable nationwide entity with utter legal supremacy. Get it? Continue reading

In Defense of Rand Paul (Kind Of)

It’s not often that a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky becomes a national political figure, but Rand Paul has been in the news a lot lately. First, it was for his surprising and convincing (and surprisingly convincing) win in the Republican primary for a Kentucky Senate seat two weeks ago, and then it was for his controversial statements about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Basically, what Paul said about the Civil Rights Act, first on NPR and then on The Rachel Maddow Show, was that he did not support the Act’s regulation of private business, even though he stands behind the spirit of the bill and supports all the provisions of it that desegregate public institutions and repeal Jim Crow laws. Basically, there are 10 Titles of the Civil Rights Act, and Paul said he didn’t support Title II.

Now, I don’t agree with Paul’s view at all, but it’s not surprising or offensive to me. In fact, it’s perfectly consistent with Paul’s libertarian beliefs: Libertarians do not want the federal government to interfere with private business, and federally mandated desegregation of private businesses constitutes a regulation. Even though I disagree, I initially admired Paul’s intellectual consistency—unfortunately since the media hubbub about his comments, Paul has backed away from that intellectual fidelity. It’s also important to note that Paul did not say he wanted to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or even that he would have voted against the whole Act had he been in Congress at the time—he only said he had legitimate problems with one aspect of the law. Continue reading

First Amendment Symposium Part IV: The First Amendment is Properly Rated (But Perhaps for the Wrong Reasons)


“What he [John S.] says may be irrational, incoherent, unfounded, and foolish, but I defend to the death his right to say it.”

-Josh*

*I have as much claim to this phrase as Voltaire.

This response will proceed in three steps. First, I will respond to misguided presumptions that underlie John’s critique of the First Amendment: 1) that the goal of the First Amendment is not to suppress any speech and 2) that free speech absolutism is the only interpretive option for the First Amendment. Second, I will refute John’s two main claims: 1) The First Amendment is only aimed towards preventing government suppression of speech, but the coercive non-governmental forces and differential access to forums are problems just as serious that the First Amendment promotes or, at least, does nothing to prevent. 2) There is nothing inherent about the First Amendment that promotes the Millian benefits that flow from free speech. Third, I will discuss the Citizens United issue separately since it’s sufficiently distinct from the other issues in this response.

Citing Mill, John fallaciously argues that “the general principles that underlie actual liberty of thought and discussion” are primarily grounded in opposition to the “suppression of opinion, whether it be by government or any entity….” [emphasis added].

Continue reading

Are We Overreacting to the Henry Louis Gates Scandal?

The news tends to amplify single events, implying a general trend where none exists. This seems to be exactly what is happening in regard to the Henry Louis Gates situation. For those unfamiliar, Gates, a prominent black scholar, was arrested in Cambridge, MA, after he “broke into” his own home because the door was jammed shut. Already people are implying that this single instance has undone any racial progress Barack Obama made last year.

Looking at the details of the case, however, the situation reveals itself to be an unfortunate misunderstanding. Obviously, Gates should never have been arrested, but the Cambridge Police Department quickly dropped the charges and has since apologized. This doesn’t undo the wrong, but it suggests that the arrest was more the result of a misunderstanding than malice. This wasn’t exactly Martin Luther King, Jr. getting arrested in Birmingham. Continue reading

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