Scholars and activists, poets and playwrights have been writing about rape for centuries. What would the conversation around sexual assault, police bias, and the legal system look like if investigators, police officers, and judges read deeply into the literature on sexuality, racial justice, violence, and power? It is in view of this question that the following syllabus is offered as a scholarly resource—and object of critical discussion and debate—on "rape culture" in the 21st century. Public Books presents a 13-week Rape Culture Syllabus. [more inside]
Every year, the vast majority of murders in Chicago go unsolved. The city's homicide-clearance rate of 26% (a case is cleared as soon as someone is charged) is less than half the national average. The rate for non-fatal shootings is 10%. Meaning, if you shoot someone in Chicago, you have a pretty good chance of getting away with it. Alex Kotlowitz writes here about how Chicago law enforcement's abysmal homicide-clearance rate may be contributing to violence in the city. (previously)
Time to Statham Punch is a helpful reference if you want to know how long it takes in a given movie for Jason Statham to punch someone, "ideally in the face". [more inside]
"Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to follow in their footsteps." In the wake of the violence this week in St. Paul, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, a quartet of NBA stars (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James) open the 2016 ESPYS with a call to action. (SLESPN)
This Is Your Brain On War: “There was this police officer in Florida,” he says. “She was shot 10 times, and in the middle of this gunfight she says to herself, ‘I’m getting married in six months and you’re not going to stop me.’ And she killed the two bastards who shot her. She was back on the job a year later. So, yes, these are irrational thoughts, but at the same time, they’re motivating thoughts.”
Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Department Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager [East Bay Express] According to a stunning set of allegations, a teenage human trafficking victim in the Bay Area was coerced into sex by at least 22 officers over a six month period. [more inside]
A Mother Jones Investigation: Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America's 10 Biggest Gunmakers. [more inside]
Last fall, Baltimore's Renaissance Academy High School was put on the school district's closure list for poor student performance, though the decision was later reversed. In November, 17 year old senior Ananias Jolley was stabbed in the middle of science class, and died a few days before Christmas. By the end of February, two more students from the school were killed. 65 students graduated this past Friday from Renaissance; among them Ananias' brother, 20-year-old Santonio Jolley, a dropout who enrolled in Renaissance five days after his brother died. This is Renaissance.
Rod Reeves, 42, turns on the spigot and shows how his garden hose, punctured by bullets, now leaks. In last week's three day Memorial Day weekend, 64 people were shot in Chicago, a city of 2.7 million. 6 died from their wounds. Prior to that, there had been 1,177 shootings this year, and some 28,000 citizen phone calls reporting gunfire.
Anohni's new album, Hopelessness , has a lot to say. She grapples with the surveillance state, ecocide, drone warfare, gender, and more in a more electronic setting than her previous work with Antony and the Johnsons. "A big part of [the album] is an examination of my own complicity and my own inability to truly extricate myself from the brokenness of the system that I'm a part of. It's that chasm, that denial that I wanted to model, an inquiry into and within myself." [more inside]
With less than 200 days before deciding who will be POTUS #45, five states hold primaries today: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Following the problems with voting in New York, hopefully there won't be so many this week, although location limitations do not bode well. Since the New York primaries, Ted has cut a deal with John but thinks the convention will be contested, people are eyeing Bernie's email address book, Donald buys a ticket to Seattle but gets his historical election facts wrong while encouraging an academic discipline, John corners the astronaut demographic, Hillary rejects a non-endorsement, Joe is focusing on the Senate, and the new first rule of Abe Club is that there is no more Abe Club. [more inside]
"But theirs is a loss that never can be recovered." John DeShazier on the death of former New Orleans Saints Defensive End Will Smith. Smith was 34.
A Familiar Pattern in a Spouse’s Final Act by Benjamin Mueller, Ashley Southall and Al Baker [The New York Times] After years of violence, Nadia Saavedra finally told her husband to leave their Bronx home. Soon after, the police say, he returned to kill her and then himself. [WARNING: Article contains descriptions of physical violence, domestic abuse, assault, homicide.]
Trying to Separate Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable by Rachel L. Swarns [The New York Times]
"It was hard then to know where Dr. Huxtable ended and Mr. Cosby began. Mr. Cosby inhabited the role so completely that for a long time I thought character and creator were pretty much one and the same, at least until the allegations of rape began surfacing with increasing frequency. Then I went from feeling certain that Mr. Cosby was just like Dr. Huxtable, to wondering whether Mr. Cosby was like Dr. Huxtable, to desperately hoping that Mr. Cosby was the devoted family man I once thought he had been."
Most American rapes go unreported and unpunished. In part because ideas about what constitutes a ‘‘real rape’’ still hinder investigations and prosecutions, and many police officers continue to read vulnerability as complicity. But there is another unacknowledged side to the investigation of sexual assault: the huge numbers of victims who are children or teenagers. New Haven, CT detectives estimate that more than 80 percent of their cases involve minors — a number only slightly higher than national statistics. Such cases are rarely reported immediately, which means that there is rarely any physical evidence to investigate. "To Catch a Rapist:" How New Haven's special-victims unit fights a hidden epidemic of sexual assault that is disturbingly difficult to investigate. (Some may find the descriptions and topics in this article disturbing or triggering.)
A campaign called "Frame Her Right" have put out a short video compilation of violence against women in Bollywood films. What they want is for the Indian Censor Board to include a warning in films that contain violence against women and to reflect such violence in the film's age rating. The argument links to the broader debate about the extent to which Bollywood movies reinforce misogyny in India. (The BBC quotes Aamir Khan criticising how Bollywood movies sometimes glorify stalking and harassment, which shows how times have changed). However, the 80s and 90s seem to be something of a low point for sexualised violence in Bollywood, and there are better portrayals of women in more recent films.
McBride wanted President Obama to make Ceasefire and similar programs part of his post-Newtown push to reduce gun violence. He had brought a short memo to give to White House staffers, outlining a plan to devote $500 million over five years to scaling such programs nationwide. His pitch to Biden that day was even simpler: Don’t ignore that black children are dying too.- Beyond Gun Control, Lois Beckett, The New Republic and Pro Publica [more inside]
An all-white jury convicted Daniel Holtzclaw of rape. It's almost enough. [The Guardian]
It took 45 hours over the course of four days for an all-white jury in Oklahoma City to decide whether or not they should convict former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw of sexual assault on the word of 13 black women. On Thursday night, the jury opted to believe (most of) them. There is perhaps no bigger test of how blind justice could possibly be than asking any American jury – especially one that is all white and includes eight men – to believe 13 black women over a former police officer and supposed hero football player. It’s easy enough to point to cases where the police were acquitted. And yet, against all expectations this time, justice was blind.[more inside]
Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence [The Belle Jar]
The County: the story of America's deadliest police. First in a five part series by the Guardian. Here is some data which has been posted before [more inside]
For the first time in 35 years, an Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality, in this case, that of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Last night, the city of Chicago released the dash-cam footage that had been kept out of the public eye for more than a year, showing Mr. McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. A second video, which was taken by a security camera at a nearby Burger King, was allegedly deleted by the police. [more inside]
Whichever cameras are used, it’s increasingly clear police will control the footage. In a recent survey of 25 departments with body camera programs, only two made the footage available to individuals filing complaints against the department, and only four had systems to prevent tampering or unauthorized access. - Who controls the cop cam?
After more than a decade of decline, Baltimore's homicide rate spikes up. Tonight it just broke the 300 mark. [more inside]
Suffer the Children: A long and heart-rending essay in The Monthly magazine about the Australian Family Law system's ugly response to allegations of child abuse in custody disputes. [more inside]
The Life & Times of Strider Wolf Trigger warnings for Violence, Child Abuse.
Sweden school attack: horror as sword attacker kills teacher and pupil. [The Guardian] [Article contains graphic descriptions of violence.] [more inside]
Refuse to share a pencil, reject a boy, say no to your imprisoned dad — all of these can get a teen girl killed in El Salvador's gang war - "Aby, whose best friend disappeared, is still staying at home. Her latest aspiration is to be the director of NASA." Warning: Some of the depictions and images in this story are graphic. [more inside]
Vankadarath Saritha, Delhi's first female bus driver - "Women have been to space so why can't we drive a bus?"
Why are little kids in Japan so independent? - 'If we had a nonviolent society, kids could walk around on their own, unafraid, like they do in Japan'. (via)
Violence does not stem from a psychopathic lack of morality. Quite the reverse: it comes from the exercise of perceived moral rights and obligations. So says Tage Rai, whose research with anthropologist Alan Fiske analysed violent practices across cultures and history. [more inside]
In 2010, Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell wrote about thousands of neglected rape kits at the Cleveland Police Department. Working with fellow reporter Leila Atassi, their continued, tenacious coverage led to the creation of a 'rape kit task force' to cover a massive backlog, and eventually, a law mandating timely testing. Since 2011, when the city began sending rape kits to the state’s crime lab, almost all of its 4,000 kits have been tested; of these, over 1,600 contained usable DNA. 350 cases have led to grand jury indictments, and as of this month, over 100 rapists have been convicted, some of multiple rapes. [more inside]
Death in Syria by Karen Yourish, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Derek Watkins [New York Times]
“With each passing day there are fewer safe places in Syria,” Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chairman of the United Nations panel investigating human rights abuses in Syria, wrote in a recent report. “Everyday decisions — whether to visit a neighbor, to go out to buy bread— have become, potentially, decisions about life and death.”
"It is simply easier for some people to believe that the United States government has concocted a vast conspiracy to take away all of our guns than it is to believe that it is too easy for a mentally ill person to acquire one and shoot anyone they want. And now those same people are taking it out on the families of the victims of gun violence after a tragedy." What Do You Say To A Roanoke Truther? Ben Collins, The Daily Beast
This is not an easy read, but I felt that it was worth reading: PC Comedy and Paul Revere
Over five decades of economic decline and racial conflict, a Western Pennsylvania mill town has found unity and hope on the football field. "There is no drug dealing at the Pit, and rarely any violence," Walker says. "It really is sacred ground; it's like a miracle. You've got guys that, any other time of the day, they're going to try and rip each other's throats out, but they just walk past each other in the Pit. They're there to watch those kids play."
Gaahl is the former vocalist for Gorgoroth, Norwegin black metal powerhouse and satanic ideologues. In 2005 he was sentenced to 14 months in prison for beating and torturing an intruder in his home. In 2007 Vice went to the remote Norwegian hamlet of Espedal (named for/owned by Gaahl's family for generations) to talk music, philosophy, painting, and get some insights into True Norwegian Black Metal. [more inside]
In 2013, 230 researchers signed an open letter condemning the American Psychological Association's public stance on video game violence, which they say ignores all the evidence against claims that video game violence causes real violence. (Via RPS) [more inside]
One year later:
- A year after Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire
- Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won't end.
- In Ferguson, Anniversary of Killing Begins Mostly Quietly
- 11 Striking Photos That Show A Forever-Changed Ferguson.
- A Year After Ferguson: Obama Tells NPR He Feels 'Great Urgency'.
- 'Things will never be the same': the oral history of a new civil rights movement.
"Here are some essential readings from several astute activists, journalists and writers that have inspired, angered and challenged readers everywhere this past year. While this is in no way an exhaustive list, the following offers insider and outsider views of Ferguson, pushing all of us to consider the radical spirit and collective beauty illuminated in mass mobilized protests. "
This March, I spent several days at his home. Wilson, who is twenty-nine, started receiving death threats not long after the incident, in which Brown was killed in the street shortly after robbing a convenience store. Although Wilson recently bought the house, his name is not on the deed, and only a few friends know where he lives. He and his wife, Barb, who is thirty-seven, and also a former Ferguson cop, rarely linger in the front yard. Because of such precautions, Wilson has been leading a very quiet life. During the past year, a series of police killings of African-Americans across the country has inspired grief, outrage, protest, and acrimonious debate. For many Americans, this discussion, though painful, has been essential. Wilson has tried, with some success, to block it out.
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties is a disturbing spoof toy commercial in a campaign by Veterans for Peace UK to raise the military recruitment age from 16 to 18. Warning: autoplaying video with graphic violence.
Here is a list of selected readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina this week. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance. [more inside]
"Police responding to reported disturbance at a community pool in McKinney, Texas, are seen in a video posted to YouTube aggressively subduing black teenagers and, at one point, pulling a gun on them."Scott Neuman, NPR [more inside]
The Inexplicable by Karl Ove Knausgaard [The New Yorker] Inside the mind of a mass killer.
It was out of this world that the thirty-two-year-old Anders Behring Breivik stepped when, on the afternoon of July 22, 2011, he set out from his mother’s flat in Oslo’s West End, changed into a police uniform, parked a van containing a bomb, which he had spent the spring and summer making, outside Regjeringskvartalet, lit the fuse, and left the scene. While the catastrophic images of the attack, which killed eight people, were being broadcast across the world, Breivik headed to Utøya. That was where the Workers’ Youth League had its annual summer camp. There Breivik shot and killed sixty-nine people, in a massacre that lasted for more than an hour, right until the police arrived, when he immediately surrendered.
The New York Times and Jezebel profile Texas' refusal to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. (trigger warning: sexual assault, violence)
What Caused the Crime Decline? [Brennan Center for Justice]
"What Caused the Crime Decline? examines one of the nation’s least understood recent phenomena – the dramatic decline in crime nationwide over the past two decades – and analyzes various theories for why it occurred, by reviewing more than 40 years of data from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. It concludes that over-harsh criminal justice policies, particularly increased incarceration, which rose even more dramatically over the same period, were not the main drivers of the crime decline. In fact, the report finds that increased incarceration has been declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years. Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been non-existent since 2000."A report by Oliver Roeder, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, and Julia Bowling, with a foreword by Joseph E. Stiglitz and an executive summary by Inimai Chettiar Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School, 134 pp. [Foreword] [PDF] [Scribd] [more inside]