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]
My approach in shooting the portraits was to create a community experience. I set up open calls for women and female-identifying individuals to have their photographs taken holding whatever made them feel most safe walking home alone.Iowa-based artist Taylor Yocom presents: Guarded. [more inside]
Fucking Inappropriate. No matter what I do, it always ends this way. The money gets spent. The whiskey runs out. The hangover always comes, and the show is always over. TW for graphic discussion of combat, PTSD, pretty much everything war-related. [more inside]
1967 NBC News Special Report: "Summer of '67"[YouTube]
The 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. It began on a Saturday night in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th (today Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount streets on the city's Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot. [Wiki]
A Prison, Infamous for Bloodshed, Faces a Reckoning as Guards Go on Trial Warning, explicit descriptions of extreme violence
Todd McFarlane's Spawn aired on HBO from 1997-99. A faithful depiction of McFarlane's popular action-fantasy-horror comic, this groundbreaking, (NSFW,) animated series won an Emmy for 'Outstanding Animation Program' during its third and final season. [more inside]
2 Deadly Shootings Within Hours in Copenhagen; 5 Wounded [New York Times]
A shooting at a free speech event featuring an artist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad and a second shooting hours later outside a synagogue left two dead and five police officers wounded in Copenhagen, stirring fears that another terror spree was underway in a European capital a month after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks.[more inside]
Tom Bartlett writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Science Of Hatred
What makes humans capable of horrific violence? Why do we deny atrocities in the face of overwhelming evidence? A small group of psychologists say they are moving toward answers. Is anyone listening?[more inside]
Rape on the Campus by Zoë Heller [New York Review of Books]
"Few would disagree that the systems for preventing and prosecuting sexual assault on US campuses are in need of change. But the efficacy and fairness of recent reforms that focus on making college grievance procedures more favorable to complainants and on codifying strict new definitions of sexual consent remain highly questionable."
Face-Stabbing and Cop-Killing: Inside 2015's Most Controversial Video Game [VICE]
"Destructive Creations' Hatred has drawn plenty of criticism for the fact that its main character, a big hairy man, seems intent on killing innocent civilians for no particular reason."[more inside]
We meet a gaggle of adorable little Italian kids, ranging from 7 to 12 years old. The children are asked by the filmmaker what they want to be when they grow up. And why they want to be those things. Then the boys are introduced to Martina, who captures all of their hearts. She charms the boys — they all exclaim how much they love her hair and her smile. One even wants to know if he can be her boyfriend. The filmmaker encourages the boys to make funny faces at Martina to try to make her laugh. Then he tells them to caress her. And then he tells them to slap her...
How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
Dalhousie Dental School is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. A group of about a dozen seniors known as the DDS 2015 Gentlemen's Club have been posting crude jokes about sexual violence and female subjugation in a closed Facebook group, targeting female students and including jokes about using dental anesthetic as a rape drug. The administrations choice to go with a restorative justice approach has not been met with much approval. Dalhousie is still trying to recover from it's last sexual violence scandal not that long ago.
"What They Left Behind" is a 35 minute documentary produced by Sandy Hook Promise. Today, the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut honor the lives of the twenty first graders and six adult helpers who lost their lives in that school shooting. No public events will take place today in Newtown. [more inside]
Of all the forms of fighting known to man, one name strikes fear further into the hearts of those who hear it: Bare Knuckle. For hundreds of years, the men of Britain have rammed their unprotected fists into each others bodies to decide who was the hardest of them all. [more inside]
What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings. D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News and Review, has spent two years compiling Fatal Encounters, a croudsourced national database of police violence and publishing stories with his findings.
On Monday, the Supreme Court (with a recovering Ruth Bader Ginsburg) will hear argument in Elonis v. United States, a case where a man was convicted for posts and messages on Facebook that prosecutors treated as threats of actual violence. (trigger warning: descriptions of violence) [more inside]
Last night, a 28 year old man named Akai Gurley was shot to death in a stairwell by an NYPD officer who was patrolling the Pink Houses in East New York. Gurley and his girlfriend had decided to take the stairs because the elevator was taking too long. Police Commissioner Bratton said today that the victim was “a total innocent” and called the shooting "an unfortunate accident." [more inside]
Since September 11, 2001, according to the START terrorism database, there have been twenty lethal terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in the deaths of forty-six people. There have been, at most, a handful of assassinations. According to the FBI, from 2001 to 2011, there have been nearly 250 mass shootings, defined as the death of four or more people. According to USA Today, whose data on mass shootings is considered at least as reliable as the FBI's, there have been 191 mass shootings since 2006, with 34 described as "public" shootings—seemingly random events, stranger to stranger. Nearly a thousand people have died; many more have been wounded. What America feared after the 9/11 attacks—that it would be perpetually attacked by outsiders calling themselves Americans—finally has transpired, only with an awful twist: It is perpetually attacked by Americans who call themselves outsiders.[more inside]
"A hypocrite knows right from wrong; they know they sin when they sin," Chmielarz said. "They find excuses for these sins just like we find excuses to mow down another hundred enemies in a video game. And even though they don't follow it, deep down they know which way the moral compass is pointing. Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open." Outrage and debate over the announcement of the upcoming video game "Hatred," in which players take the persona of a mass shooter. (Disturbing content in both video and company website.) [more inside]
Whenever Dewan Smith-Williams sees Janay Rice on television, she feels like she's looking into a mirror. Smith-Williams, 44, remembers the denial, the secrecy, the sense of isolation, the shame. But most of all, she remembers the fear of ruining her husband's career as a National Football League player — the feeling that coming forth, or seeking justice, would destroy her four children's financial security. She understands that struggle not only because she, too, was a domestic-violence victim, but because she watched so many other NFL wives, many of them her friends, go through the same nightmare. For each of them, it began with their husbands' attacks and worsened with a culture that, they felt, compelled silence.Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea investigate for WaPo: For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet.
[TW: domestic violence] [more inside]
Jordan Davis's mother, Lucia McBath, reflects on the guilty verdict in his murderer's trial. by Ta-Nehisi Coates (SLAtlantic) [more inside]
Over the past 20 years, medical researchers have found new ways to quantify the effects of the relentless violence on America’s inner cities, [and are] only now beginning to trace the effects of untreated PTSD on neighborhoods that are already struggling with unemployment, poverty and the devastating impact of the war on drugs. [...] Despite the growing evidence of PTSD in civilians, little is being done to address the problem. Hospital trauma centers often provide adequate care for physical wounds, but do almost nothing to help patients cope with the mental and emotional aftermath of trauma.
Earlier today, TMZ released a new video (warning: graphic/disturbing) of a February 12 incident involving NFL running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancée. A few hours after the video's release, the team terminated Rice's contract; shortly thereafter, the NFL reportedly suspended Rice indefinitely. [more inside]
Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (28 min 33 sec; here's a pointer to the identical video at YouTube). Warning: contains graphic sexual and violent game footage. Presented by Anita Sarkeesian of the video blog, Feminist Frequency. The website version (first link) is annotated to include links and resources, an "about the series" section, games referenced in this episode, and a transcript. [more inside]
It was just after dark when Michael Martin, 56, was walking back to his home in New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood, after helping a friend move... That's when he was jumped by a group of 13-year-olds and kicked, punched, and choked unconscious. He's not alone. It turns out that New Orleans middle schoolers are beating the shit out of artists and gays.
Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson? - According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas and wooden rounds into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling, the paramilitarization of police and media depictions of black shooting victims have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety.
Bill de Blasio has reduced the use of stop-and-frisk, but he still supports the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner’s death. New York City cops are fuming. On Tuesday, union officials gathered to publicly denounce “police haters” and defend the conduct of police officers involved in the apprehension of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was killed while being placed under arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week, the state medical examiner’s office said Garner died as a result of being put in a chokehold — a tactic banned by the New York Police Department. [more inside]
"It is a spellbinding narrative, a multilayered tale of murder, insanity, and mystery replete with shocking twists and turns. It is a startling pastiche of late-nineteenth-century characters, from the most elite figures of Austin society to the poorest African Americans. Yet amazingly, it is almost entirely absent from the annals of history." Before London had its Ripper, before H.H. Holmes had his Murder Castle, Austin, Texas had its very own Servant Girl Annihilator... [more inside]
A young girl's questions about the Boko Haram abductions reveal an increasing consciousness of a misogynist world. How can her mother—a survivor of kidnapping and abuse—respond?Lacy M. Johnson writes for Dame Magazine: "I Don't Want to Be a Girl."
[TW: graphic recountings of gendered violence] [more inside]
Chris Gethard: Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man
California drive-by shooting: 'Son of Hunger Games assistant director' Elliot Rodger suspected of killing six in attack. Rodger embarked on his shooting spree hours after posting an online video detailing his plans for "retribution" for rejection by women. [more inside]
A Short History of Game Panics: [Boing Boing] "Do you know where you child is? Watch out: they might be in an arcade! Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine on video gaming's juciest moral panics." [Previously] [Previously] [Previously]
Alan Prendergast writing in Westword reflects on the history of "Bloody Ludlow."
The Dangers of the Monster Myth In 2012 Jill Meaghar was murdered. Today, her husband, Tom Meaghar speaks out about the dangers of the "monster myth". "I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man, and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Jill’s memory, and other women affected by violence to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual? Adrian Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person. I am the first one who wants to see him vilified and long may he be one of Australia’s most hated people, but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men’s violence against women
The original story of Kitty Genovese’s death, first promulgated by the New York Times in a front-page article 50 years ago today—young single woman brutally murdered while 38 strangers watched and did nothing—was incorrect in almost every particular.
What we talk about when we talk about gangs "Gangs (and their many incarnations) are complex social networks whose roots are deeply intertwined with those of the communities and socio-economic environments they call home. Not unlike the military, they offer youth a surrogate family, something to belong to, someone to watch their back, and something to fight for. But they also offer so much more – the promise of a social circle, the possibility of controlling what would otherwise control them, an outlet for frustration or revenge, and a name, status, and “juice” (respect). Respect, in particular, is a highly coveted commodity for kids that feel beat down or oppressed by circumstance. If they can prove themselves worthy of being feared, people will be less likely to mess with them just for the hell of it." [more inside]
Burt Likko is a lawyer who used to handle litigation arising from bar fights. He's learned a bit about how and why they happen.
“People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya,’” says Julie Beals, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC ). “Have you seen an actual community?”
... is a time to commemorate past victims of violence — and rededicate ourselves to ending it. [TW: brief descriptions of some murders.]
Anthropologists weigh in on Jared Diamond's latest: lack of citations, ethnographic carelessness, and the smoothing of complex narratives into quotable fables. The World Until Yesterday has prompted a flurry of commentary from anthropologists unenthusiastic about the physiologist turned evolutionary biologist turned geographer. In a recent London Review of Books, leading political anthropologist James C. Scott doesn't buy Diamond's description of the modern nation-state arising to curtail primitive tribal violence "[i]n a passage that recapitulates the fable of the social contract" given how "slaving was at the very centre of state-making." Anthropologist Alex Golub, who shares Papua New Guinea as a major research site, wrote "Still, it is telling that we live in an age when a member of America’s National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s foremost public intellectuals has less concern for citations and footnotes than do the contributors to Wikipedia." David Correia pulls no punches in his opinion piece "F*ck Jared Diamond" calling Diamond's resurrection of environmental determinism as racist apologia and his latest book as essentializing primitivism in order to define Western industrialized exceptionalism. [more inside]
"There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way." " [more inside]
Erica Chenoweth studies political violence and non-violent resistance. Her research indicates that nonviolent campaigns have been more successful than armed campaigns and that movements are effective when they (1) attract widespread and diverse participation; (2) develop a strategy that allows them to maneuver around repression; and (3) provoke defections, loyalty shifts, or disobedience among regime elites and/or security forces. Her TED talk and an interview.