Mental Illness And The Southern Baptist Convention: We Have A Serious Problem Here

Reading this interview in Christianity Today with Frank Page, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention whose daughter committed suicide, was a rather harrowing experience. It was harrowing firstly because he’s trying to analyze his daughter’s untimely death, and that is necessarily going to make for uncomfortable reading. But it was harrowing also because it further convinced me of an insurmountable impasse between Southern Baptist-style Evangelical Christianity and proper mental health awareness.

Continue Reading →

Another Brief Note On The Idioicy Of Pro-Football Arguments

Jonathan Chait, one of America’s foremost trolls, and hence one of America’s most influential political analysts, has written a widely-recommended apologia about football. Chait played as a young man, you see, and can speak from personal experience about football’s virtues. According to Chait, football provides boys with a means by which to channel their masculine rage. “In Defense of Male Aggression” is a pretty good troll headline, and I’m sure it earned New York Magazine an impressive number of clicks, but Chait’s article doesn’t do very much at all in the way of justifying the culture of male aggression that football promotes.

Continue Reading →

Why Football At All Levels Must Be Immediately Abolished: A FAQ

Because I keep hearing the same objections to my “Football is Irredeemably Depraved” thesis, I figured I would write a FAQ. This seems doubly timely given the recent revelations of a sexual torture regime at the “storied” Sayreville, NJ high school football program, which many are predictably explaining away by invoking the failed “a few bad apples” thesis. (Also, I learned yesterday that my VICE article calling for a boycott of the NFL spurred an op-ed in the New York Times! Weird. You’d think someone would’ve notified me about that…?)

Continue Reading →

Joan Rivers Was A Horrible Person And You Should Feel Bad For Liking Her

Joan Rivers made the world a stupider, shallower, more annoying place—so of course she has been celebrated widely since her death last week. But let’s get real for a minute. Joan Rivers wasn’t funny, she wasn’t a good person, and she wasn’t someone who ought to be revered or held up as an example. If anything, she should be held up as a counterexample for rising generations of citizens who hope to live noble, productive lives.

Continue Reading →

Ray Kelly, State Power, and the Principle of Unfettered Free Speech

Since news broke last week that Ray Kelly, the New York City police commissioner (or “Top Cop” as media sometimes affectionately put it) was prevented by protesters from delivering an address on “proactive policing” at Brown University, a debate has raged on what I’ll tentatively call the “Left Twittersphere” about the propriety of the protesters’ actions.

Continue Reading →

The American Right-Wing’s Hypocritical Attacks on Hugo Chavez

Since Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was announced the victor Sunday night in his closely-watched bid for reelection, conservatives and libertarians across America have, predictably, sneered. They disdain Chavez for a range of reasons — his inclination toward state control of the economy, his blusterous style, and so forth. Certainly, Chavez should not be immune to criticism. He has suppressed dissent within his borders, interfered with press freedoms, and I’d wager that spending 18 years in high office — the length of time he’ll have served after the new term concludes — will inevitably breed governmental corruption and resentment among the populace, especially for younger people who may come to view him as a stubborn old autocrat clinging to power, not South America’s savior. Continue Reading →

Joe Paterno and the Depravity of American Football Culture

If you had asked me to conjure up the most damning possible catastrophe for Penn State, and potentially for American sports culture writ large, I would have given you something much more tame than the monstrous child rape scandal that has already destroyed Coach Joe Paterno’s legacy. And this is only based on the Grand Jury’s initial findings — at least three additional investigations are now underway.

Continue Reading →

Why is Media Coverage of Police Actions So Bad?

If you’ve followed any “mainstream” media coverage of the Occupy movement, especially related to incidents involving police, it should be overwhelmingly obvious to you that just about every story follows the same basic formula: First, some event involving police takes place. Second, and seemingly within moments, reporters rush to the nearest police employee handling “Communications” (or some other euphemistic variation of “PR”) and request officially-sanctioned comment on what occurred. Upon receiving this official comment, reporters often reprint it in the leads of their articles. All subsequent content is thereby framed in the context of a police narrative.

This poor reporting is manifestly a byproduct of the totally discredited “objectivity” brand of journalism, inculcated as it is in so many students who studied “journalism” or “communications” in college. Because they lack the ability or desire to really understand what’s going on with the Occupy movement, many mainline journalists prefer to stick with straightfoward, easily-digestible cops v. protesters storylines. Employing simple dichotomies makes reporting easy – you don’t even have to attend the event. Just make sure the police department’s resident PR specialist is on speed dial, and everything will be OK. Continue Reading →

Anthony Bologna: A National Disgrace

Look at that menacing, vulgar smirk on the face of Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna as he indiscriminately pepper-sprays peaceful protesters who are complying with his order to turn around and walk away — and who comply even though they’re merely demonstrating on a public sidewalk, which is entirely lawful. Look at the sick way he derives pleasure from inflicting pain on others. In most civilized societies, this is known as sociopathic behavior, and yet when such behavior is exhibited by a high-ranking NYPD supervisor, his actions get spun away by PR-flacks as “appropriate” and “judicious.” Until more video comes out, that is.

Continue Reading →

9/11, the NYPD, and Public Reverence for Police

When young black men start wearing “NYPD” caps, as they did in the aftermath of the attacks, you know something dramatic and slightly reason-defying has happened. This was noted by Melissa Harris-Perry at The Nation magazine’s 9/11 anniversary event last week. But those caps were nevertheless out in full force, she observed, even though black men predictably continued to receive disproportionately punitive treatment from police over the following decade. Today, even black members of the city government get roughed up on the streets. Tens of thousands are arrested annually for petty marijuana-related infractions every year, with blacks and Latinos targeted overwhelmingly.

And despite this, deciding to wear a symbolically-dubious cap was a wonderfully rational decision compared with other overblown responses to 9/11. There was something admirable about our unification post-attacks, and many people wore the cap in support of officers who acted heroically that day — not out of solidarity with every aspect of NYPD patrolling procedures. But the excesses of the past decade suggest that all this ubiquitous reverence for police after 9/11 may have partially enabled a troubling change in police culture. Tragically, fears of terrorism amplified and entrenched worrying trends in policing that had been underway since the 1980s.

Continue Reading →