Work is killing America

In 2014, the

In 2014, the “Respect the Bump” campaign sought to force Walmart to end its discrimination of pregnant women.

At a time when so many Americans are struggling just to earn a decent living and find adequate employment, it may seem counterintuitive to indict the work people are doing as one of the biggest problems facing the country. But when you take a look at what our work is turning us into and what it’s actually accomplishing, it becomes clear that our priorities are all out of whack. Continue reading

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Condemn the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, but remember that satire should always punch up

Hundreds of thousands marched at unity rallies in and around Paris to show support for free expression in the wake of the murders at Charlie Hebdo.

Hundreds of thousands marched at unity rallies in and around Paris to show support for free expression in the wake of the murders at Charlie Hebdo.

It’s hard to find much room for cynicism in the outpourings of solidarity, sympathy and defense of free expression that have emerged following the slaughter of 12 innocent people at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The crime committed there in the name of religious extremism is one of the most heinous and intolerable anyone can imagine. Nonetheless, there’s an important element to the story that’s missing from most of the discussion, and it has to do with the power dynamic of cultures and the messaging of satire. Continue reading

State violence, not peaceful protesting, inspires citizen violence

NYPD officers turn their backs on a video of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at the memorial service for slain officer Rafael Ramos.

NYPD officers turn their backs on a video of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at the memorial service for slain officer Rafael Ramos.

In times of tragedy, the first question the media asks is, “Who is to blame?” It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to investigate, but certain familiar patterns develop. In cases of serial killers, there’s usually an investigation into the killer’s background, interviews with family members, and so on. When the government is under investigation, there’s a long process of buck-passing that the media dutifully follows like a cat entranced by a laser. And in the case of political murders, blame is usually placed on the opposition party.

Since police militarization became a recurrent topic for mass media, there have been a handful of citizen-on-police killings and assaults, most notably the murder of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. And though virtually everyone has condemned the murders, they’ve nonetheless found their way to becoming a contentious political issue. The divisions, though approximately right/left, are perhaps more accurately defined as authoritarian/anti-authoritarian. Continue reading