Archive for the ‘Evil’ category

And I’ll Take Racist Media for $200, Alex

October 1, 2014

Alex:  What is the question that evokes the answer:  “A cartoon with a watermelon punchline referencing the President of the United States.”

We reply in chorus: “What was the racist garbage in the Boston Herald today?”

Again, this has been picked up in the comments, but it’s been making me crazy for a couple of reasons.  For the obvious one, I’m just going to outsource to Charles Pierce, who knows the Herald very well indeed:

 Let’s move along down my personal resume to The Boston Herald, where the current editors, whom I know well, today made me ashamed ever to have set foot in the place, let alone worked there for six years. They ran an editorial cartoon by someone named Jerry Holbert. In the cartoon…the White House intruder is in the bathtub while the president is brushing his teeth. The caption reads: “White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought.” This is what the cartoonist, Holbert, has the intruder saying from the tub.

“Have you tried the new watermelon-flavored toothpaste?”

Pierce notes the hollow contempt for those of us disgusted by this in the non-apology that followed our outcry, the assertion that there’s not a racist bone in Holbert’s body, that he was just referencing his own kids toothpaste, and that, wait for it….

…we didn’t mean to offend anyone.  Take it away, Charles:

Of course, it was not meant to offend anyone. That was just a bonus. What it was meant to do was to appeal to the base prejudices of the elderly white suburban demographic to which the Herald has been pitching itself for three decades. It is racist hooey pitched to fans of racist hooey. Period. And, like so many other things, it is different with this president. It is different because there are no rules.

I got the remnants of my day job to get back to, so I’m just going to touch on the most clueless bit of attempted contrarian justification for this bit of garbage, this, coming from Jonathan Chait:

I don’t think the joke hinges upon black people liking watermelon. I think the joke is about the Secret Service’s security failures. Obama himself is not even the subject of the joke — his perspective is that of, or close to, the reader’s. The point of the joke is that White House security is so lax that a random person could wander into the president’s living quarters undetected and take a bath, and regard this as so casual he could chat about a commonplace topic as toothpaste.

Glad that’s clear.

Black people liking watermelon is certainly not the main comic premise of the cartoon

Well, that’s alright then, dear, isn’t it?

and was probably not intended as a secondary premise, either.

And you know this, how? Because you’ve peered deeply into Holbart’s eyes?  You’ve seen into his soul?  You know him to be a good man?

The cartoonist, Jerry Holbert, explained that he came up with watermelon because he was thinking of his kids’ Colgate watermelon-flavor toothpaste.

My kids. Yeah. That’s it!

Possibly he made a subconscious connection between a black president and watermelon.

Because, of course that’s what anyone would do when contemplating the first African American president.

But it seems very doubtful this was his intent.

“Seems?”

“Seems!”

“Seems…”

Two things:  1 — when an experienced reporter falls back on “seems” you know they got nuthin.  They’re telling you what the wish to be true, not what they know, or necessarily even think is likely.

and 2:  Chait should know better, but has tangled himself up around race before, so may not, but racism, like sexism, or anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry and dehumanization of the other, is not about what is in someone’s heart.  It’s not a question of essence, of identity, of who someone is.  It’s all about what one does and says.  Action in the world defines both the sin and the good deed.

In this world, as opposed into that swelling in Chait’s spotless mind’s eye, Holbert used one of the oldest caricturers with which slave-holders benefiting from stolen lives and labor sought to limn African Americans as simple, lazy and unoppressed by their oppression.  It’s an explicitly racist trope, and everyone who’s reached the age of reason (Holbert is my age to the year) knows it.

Turner Slave-ship

Holbert may be certain that he has not one prejudiced bone in his body, but what he or Chait thinks about intent or the “real” import of this cartoon is utterly irrelevant.

The cartoon speaks for itself, and its creator, and its defenders…to the shame I fear they will not feel.

J. M. W. Turner “Slave-ship”  1840

Not Even Trying To Hide It: Politico’s The President Must Die Edition

October 1, 2014

So, today we learn via  TPM* that a bottom feeder by the name of Ronald Kessler, writing at Politico, has nailed the real take-away from the Secret Service scandal:

Agents tell me it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred. Sadly, given Obama’s colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service. (h/t Commenter JPL at Balloon Juice)

Give him credit (sic).  With this, Kessler hits the daily double.  He blames President Obama for something no other — and for “other,” read, I’m afraid, white — President would be expected to do:  get involved in the day to day management of his protective detail.  And then Kessler adds that in imagining a fix for the problem, he regrets the necessity of the president’s death.

37.884

I’m gobsmacked. Completely.  On the one hand, there’s nothing new here.  It is just one more instance in the long-running guerrilla propaganda war to delegitimize and disempower a twice elected president.  Its impulse is profoundly anti-democratic, deeply committed to the control of government by any means available.  It’s part and parcel of the series of incidents large and small that run from heckling during a State of the Union (imagine the reaction if someone had done that to C+ Augustus!) to a claim that somehow this President mustn’t appoint anyone to be approved by the current sitting Senate.

And yet, this ain’t just the eternal return of the same.  You have here a writer openly near-predicting the murder of the first African American president; accusing him of the basic failures that make that murder likely, and consoling himself that after that murder, things may get better.  It’s as near to cheerleading an assassination as I can imagine, while steering just clear of an explicit call for that event.

In a civilized society, advertisers and readers would flee Politico as if it suffered from the combined effects of Ebola, the bubonic plague and rabies.  And they would spit on the sidewalk anytime Mr. Kessler dared show his face.  In this one…

*No link to Politico; no rewarding the sewage rakers.

Image: Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Death of Caesarbetw. 1859 and 1867.

Worst People In The World

December 13, 2013

For the life of me, I can’t see why we shouldn’t invoke the UN convention on genocide against Big Tobacco:

Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in antismoking laws, using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation. The industry is warning countries that their tobacco laws violate an expanding web of trade and investment treaties, raising the prospect of costly, prolonged legal battles, health advocates and officials said.

Alarmed about rising smoking rates among young women, Namibia, in southern Africa, passed a tobacco control law in 2010 but quickly found itself bombarded with stern warnings from the tobacco industry that the new statute violated the country’s obligations under trade treaties.

“We have bundles and bundles of letters from them,” said Namibia’s health minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi.

Three years later, the government, fearful of a punishingly expensive legal battle, has yet to carry out a single major provision of the law, like limiting advertising or placing large health warnings on cigarette packaging.

I’m a little emotional on this issue, as my mother died ten days before my scheduled wedding day, murdered by RJ Reynolds.

But at least when Mom started smoking in the late 1930s/early 1940s, the explicit tobacco-cancer connection was still obscure, with the first case-control studies clearly linking cigarettes to cancer emerging in 1948 (per Siddhartha Mukherjee’s first rate The Emperor of all Maladies.  See especially the chapter titled “The Emperor’s Nylon Stockings”).  Her death may reasonably be considered involuntary manslaughter.

Now, though, there is no way to work for a tobacco company and not know that what you do is sell poison, and that the ultimate effect of your product, used as is intended, is slaughter.

2_Andrea_di_Bartolo._Massacre_of_the_Innocents_1380s._Walters_Museum_of_Art.

Most people, I’d like to think, would take a long look in the mirror and decide that there are other ways to spend our three score and ten than making a living off the wholly preventable suffering and death of uncounted others.

But clearly those working for Big Tobacco somehow missed that day in school when the class talked about the golden rule — not to mention  just about any version of the minimum expectations for human moral behavior.  Which is why first world tobacco titans  now seek to compel cash-strapped nation-states to accept the sale of death as just another bit of misery those with power can enforce on those with less.*

Let me be clear:  the law may say otherwise, but forcing tobacco on countries trying to restrict its use seems to me to be murder, pure and simple.

Sure, the victims are unknown, and their deaths in many cases decades in the future.  But the link between cigarettes and fatal disease is clear.  The motive for the companies’ actions are clear.  The gain in exchange for decisions that will inevitably result in many, many deaths is right out there in dollars and cents.  One may argue the formal distinctions between degrees, or between murder and manslaughter, but for me, deaths that the killer has reason to expect will happen as a consequence of his or her own actions count as the worst of crimes.

Regulation is needed.  So are tumbrels.

*Props, btw, to Michael Bloomberg, who the NYT reports paid for Uruguay’s defense in a suit  brought by Phillip Morris at a point where the country would have had to drop its tobacco law for lack of funds to defend it.  But hoping that right-minded billionaires will answer the call is no substitute for policy, and no remedy for the utter moral depravity on display in this story.

Image: Andrea di Bartolo, Massacre of the Innocents,  1380s

Tyranny of the Gun/Night Thoughts Of A Parent On Tucking In His Child

December 14, 2012

What can I say?

How to express the sorrow I feel for the families and friends in mourning after the Newtown school murders?

As many of you know, I have a young son, twelve now.  Every day I walk him to his public school in a suburb of Boston.  As I write this paragraph, I’m just about to head home to take him to his martial arts club — the kind of ordinary thing parents do.  The notion that I could have hugged him at the school door at 8 a.m. and then at lunch received that unspeakable phone call?

I have no words.

Fra_Angelico_-_Massacre_of_the_Innocents_-_WGA00610

I’ve spent the afternoon trying to think of something other than the raw misery of the day.  The way my mind works, though, I couldn’t stop coming back to the same old question:  what to do about the damn guns.  I started by reading Fallows on this near-weekly exercise in American exceptionalism, and then I came across this essential Ezra Klein  piece, “Nine facts about guns and mass shootings.” 

The whole post is worth your attention, but here’s what is to my mind the money quote:

7. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

“The map overlays the map of firearm deaths above with gun control restrictions by state,” explains Florida. “It highlights states which have one of three gun control restrictions in place – assault weapons’ bans, trigger locks, or safe storage requirements. Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).”

And yes, just in case there are any gotcha gun nuts reading this:  I’m aware that Connecticut with its relatively strong gun laws was the site of today’s tragedy.  That’s (part of) the problem — the most rigorous gun laws in this country are a shadow of what they are in other, less murder-stricken lands, and the state-by-state patchwork of laws combined with the interstate highway system means that even the strongest local protections are leaky as hell.

So, as I say, check out all that Ezra has to offer on all this; this is one of his good ones.

The only other thing I want to say right now is that I think it’s important to politicize the hell out of this event…but towards particular policy goals.
I’m not really ready to write coherently anything more than to note that it is intolerable — immoral, in my view — to simply accept as the cost of being American a gun culture that results in both the murder of children and a rate of death by gun that took about 30,000 lives in 2011, roughly two-thirds of them suicides. (PDF).  We’ve got to get to a better circumstance — and if that means taking out NRA candidates state assembly rep by rep — that’s a challenge we can talk through over the next little while

But for now…well I’ve been pecking at this between kinder-transport duty and dinner and dishes, and I’ve just come downstairs again from a longer-than-usual bedtime cuddle.

My son and I talked a bit about the shootings, and he took the news on board without really letting me know what he thinks about it.   He does that — he guards his counsel until he’s decided what his parents need to know.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew why I squeezed him tonight harder than usual.

It sounds hollow as hell to say it, but fuck it — here goes:

Stay safe, everyone, and hold close those you love.

Image:  Fra Angelico, The Massacre of the  Innocentsbetween 1451 and 1452.

Alienating The Electorate, Nineteen Million Americans At A Time

December 5, 2012

Ladles and Jellyspoons!

As Anne Laurie has so ably documented, your modern GOP has once again managed to be both vicious and stupidly self-destructive.  This time, it’s their wisdom in the decision to piss on  some 19% of the American people — from a considerable height — in the process of  blocking ratification of the UN treaty on the rights of the disabled.*

The wickedness at the heart of the trumped up objections that led 38 Republican senators to tell our disabled brothers and sisters that they do not rate equal protection under the law is, I think, obvious.  It’s well documented, at any rate. (Link via Anne Laurie.)

So, yeah.  To channel my inner Dennis Green,** the Republicans are who we thought we were.

Evil.

Dumb (also too).

Fresh on the heels of repeated, reasonably high profile forays into insulting Obama voters, minority voters, Asian-Americans, Latino-Americans, and whoever they’ll figure out they hate next, it turns out there are a fair number of disabled folks in this country.

How many?

According to the US Census Bureau [pdf], as of 2010, 56.7 million Americans from the civilian, non-institutionalized population had a disability — that’s 18.7% of the US population.  Of those, 38.3 million, 12.6 percent, had a severe disability (as defined in Table 1 of the linked report).***  

Bringing it down to the sharp edge of what it takes to make it through the day,  “About 12.3 million people aged 6 and older (4.4%) needed assistance with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).  (See p. 9 of the linked report for definitions of those terms of art.)

That’s a lot of folks, no matter what level of disability you choose to emphasize.  They’ve all got families — and that’s a lot more people.  [Full disclosure -- this is an issue that has at times, though not now, impinged on my own family.] They have friends too…and you get the point.

Befoere stating the obvious about the wisdom of the GOP vote in light of these facts, let me drop in a bit of anecdotage.

A few Sundays ago, I was up in New Hampshire, knocking on doors to get out our vote.  I and my partner were nearing the end of our list, and, after a rough beginning — first stop at a house where the vehemence with which we were ordered off the property bordered on the “or I’ll get my gun” territory — we’d had mostly good quick conversations, the “yup, I’m voting for your guy” kind.

We had split up at that point, my colleague taking a couple of houses down the road while I walked up a little hill to an old house on one of those big New Hampshire yards that always look like they’re thinking about being a farm.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I saw one woman out doing yard work, so I didn’t bother with the door bell.

She was soft spoken, and little reserved, and she told me that she really didn’t do politics, that I needed to talk to her partner.  She very kindly walked me a little further up the hill and called out, and then almost a cliche of a tough old New Hampshire bird came rolling down on an ATV to talk to me — a small woman, well into middle age (look who’s talking, pilgrim!), lots of daylight on that face over the years, thick New Hampshire accent and an air of utter no-nonsense competence.  Reminded me a lot of the best sergeants I’ve met over the years.

She liked to talk as much as her partner craved quiet, and we had a great conversation, sharing our disdain and horror at the person and prospects of W. Mitt Romney.  She agreed to volunteer for the campaign and I gave her contact info, and then we got to trading greatest hits (the horse as tax deduction! “Our turn!”).  Then I mentioned the 47%, and we starting going over who actually lives inside that number — the old, I said, students…the disabled.

At that, the first women I’d met suddenly spoke up. She’d been standing off to one side the entire time (ten minutes or so, now), clearly defining herself as audience and not participant in our little GOP loathe-fest.  But now it was as if a valve blew.  She was, she said, herself disabled, couldn’t work.  Was it really true, she asked me, that Romney had said that about the 47%? That she herself was a taker?

Yup, I said.

That’s it, she said.  That makes me mad.

We talked a bit longer — really it was a grand way to spend twenty minutes on a stunning New England afternoon, revving each other up to take action on our own and our country’s behalf.  The sun was kind, the trees still had some color, and I was talking to two people who were not just going to vote, but do whatever they could to drive a stake through the vampires that both exsanguinate our politics and work to deny the possibility of American dreams for so many of our fellow citizens.

So though I think it both tragedy and travesty that 38 scumbags senators blew up the UN treaty, I take a residue of comfort in seeing the Grand Old Party reaffirm its commitment to alienate an ever greater majority of the American people.  The party cannot collapse too soon — but I suppose I could say we owe our friends in the minority a debt of thanks for doing so much on their own to advance that goal.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est

*That treaty would, by the way, be the international agreement that would enshrine one more example of American Exceptionalism (in the good sense), with the US actually playing the role of that shining city on a hill that offers a light to the nations, being as it is more or less the enshrinement in international law of the landmark protections and perspective of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

**Get him out of me. RIGHT NOW!

***those numbers are based on sampling, not derived from the total census, and the report records a 90% confidence level in the significance of the estimates — which isn’t great.  But the broad magnitudes are what matters here, not the decimal places. Tens of millions of folks with disability is the key take away for this argument.

Image:  El Greco, Christ healing the blind, c. 1567

 

 

Brutus Is An Honorable Men

August 13, 2012

I’m completely down with DennisG’s post below on the return (did it ever go away) of Romney/Republican racism.  The only signs of progress I can detect are  first,  as we have  seen a lot lately, the Romney team just isn’t that competent as racist scum — and the campaign’s attack on the changes in welfare rules the Obama administration has advanced at the request (inter alia) of GOP governors has been relatively easily countered.  No vicious virtuousity here — just imagine Lee Atwater sitting down and having lunch:  he would have been spitting out the Romney team’s metacarpals by 12:45.

And second, as DennisG rightly points out, it does seem that slowly, slowly, the Village is beginning to recognize the actual evil that lies within the choices the Romney campaign is making here.  One swallow does not make a spring and all that — but when, as Dennis notes, ur-Villager Dana Milbank chides Romney for overt racism.  Here’s a passage that is, frankly, more blunt than I’d thought I’d see this election season from this particular pen:

What makes Romney’s welfare gambit dispiriting is that, as a member of one of the most persecuted groups in American history, he knows more than most the dangers of fanning bigotry. Yet now he has injected into the campaign what has for decades been a standard device for race-baiting — a suspect move because welfare hadn’t been on the radar screen.

Good on you, Dana!  Romney=Race Baiter.  Simple, clear, true.

But then there’s this line:

This is my problem with Romney: He is a decent man, but he’s too weak to stand up to the minority on his own side who are not.

Crap.  Just a steaming pile of that which emerges from the south end of a north facing horse.*  How would you define a decent person?  For me, it’s pretty simple:  that would be someone who does decent things.**

That is to say:  I can’t know, and nor can MIllbank, the true nature of Romney’s heart.

I’m not privy to how he thinks and feels in the long dark teatime of his soul.  And it doesn’t matter.   Who cares if a slug believes himself to be St. Francis?  It’s what happens when he or she actually does stuff in the world that defines their moral valence.  In case you were wondering, the residue of my religious training leaves me an acts not grace kind of person; whether or not that floats your boat as a doctrine of your faith, it seems to me that it is the only possible stance from which to weigh civic life.  No amount of predestination can turn, say, Dick Cheney into a good man.

And so it is with Mitt:

With the welfare attack, he is encouraging them [the indecent minority***]. After releasing the ad claiming Obama would “just send you your welfare check,” Romney made the racial component official when his Republican National Committee hosted a conference call the next day with Gingrich, who, sure enough, reprised his food-stamp assault, telling reporters that “an honest discussion about dependency doesn’t mean you’re a racist.” But what about a dishonest discussion?

Thursday, the RNC hosted a call with Santorum, who did everything but revive the “welfare queen” attack of the 1980s.

“What the president wants to do is turn back the clock and do what he has done with every single other entitlement program in this country, which is increase the number of people on it, increase dependency,” Santorum charged.

To be fair to the He Iz Lerning Milbank, by the end of his column he does seem to get that when someone makes the same choice over and over again, eventually, you have to realize that it is what it is:

The week before launching his welfare attack, Romney told a group of donors in Jerusalem that “culture makes all the difference” in the “dramatic, stark” disparity between Israeli wealth and Palestinian poverty.

Saeb Erekat, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called the statement “racist.”

Romney may not have meant it to be — but, as Santorum likes to say, this is a pattern.

Again, good on Milbank here for this save after the stumble above.  That’s as close as I think it possible for a headliner at Kaplan Daily to out-and-out say that Romney is so desperate for power that he’s perfectly OK with trading on hate to get there.

But it is really, really time to stop giving Mitt — or Santorum, or Gingrich, or anyone on the GOP side who does not explicitly condemn this nonsense (Paul Ryan….I’m looking at you) — the benefit of the doubt.

You use bigotry as a campaign tactic?  Then you’re a hater…and not to be trusted anywhere near the levers of government.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est.

Bonus soundtrack:

watch?v=snSM7qJiqOs

*Horse HoHos as we used to refer to the stuff as kids.  Just thought I’d share that with you.

**We are all human, and hence fallible, so this isn’t a sainthood standard:  good folks will act in a range of ways, not all of them exemplary.  The issues are what do they strive to do as a default impulse to action…and much more importantly, on balance, how their actions tote up.

***How does Milbank know that those to whom Romney panders are the minority in the Republican party? Could be, I guess — but given the decades-long series of choices to anchor the party in white Southern resentment, I’d say that’s an assumption not in evidence.  Were I Milbank’s editor I would have corrected that line to Romney’s “too weak to stand up to those in his party who are.”  This is a quibble — except it’s not.  One of the most damaging tropes in elite journalism these days is the lazy and/or unconscious weave of “knowledge” that is in fact unknown into the fabric of a piece.  Once assumed, it requires no interrogation by the writer…and bullshit takes on just that little bit of added authority by having become a “fact” within some MSM journal of record.

Image:  Michiel Jansz. van MIerevelt, Anatomy Lesson of  Dr. Willem van der Meer1617

 

Moral Compasses. Can I Haz Pleeze? (Paterno/PSU Edition)

July 15, 2012

This item in the Times yesterday caught my attention:

In January 2011, Joe Paterno learned prosecutors were investigating his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually assaulting young boys….

That same month, Mr. Paterno, the football coach at Penn State, began negotiating with his superiors to amend his contract, with the timing something of a surprise because the contract was not set to expire until the end of 2012, according to university documents and people with knowledge of the discussions. By August, Mr. Paterno and the university’s president, both of whom were by then embroiled in the Sandusky investigation, had reached an agreement.

Mr. Paterno was to be paid $3 million at the end of the 2011 season if he agreed it would be his last. Interest-free loans totaling $350,000 that the university had made to Mr. Paterno over the years would be forgiven as part of the retirement package. He would also have the use of the university’s private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family to use over the next 25 years.

The university’s full board of trustees was kept in the dark about the arrangement until November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested….

Anyone care to defend Paterno on this one?  PSU?  Best keep this in mind then:

The university’s full board of trustees was kept in the dark about the arrangement until November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested and the contract arrangements, along with so much else at Penn State, were upended. Mr. Paterno was fired, two of the university’s top officials were indicted in connection with the scandal, and the trustees, who held Mr. Paterno’s financial fate in their hands, came under verbal assault from the coach’s angry supporters.

Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

In the end, the board of trustees — bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno’s family — gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million. Documents show that the board even tossed in some extras that the family demanded, like the use of specialized hydrotherapy massage equipment for Mr. Paterno’s wife at the university’s Lasch Building, where Mr. Sandusky had molested a number of his victims.

I’m reading Chris Haye’s Twilight of the Elites just now — highly recommended btw, from a just over half way perspective — and one of his key points is that disintegration of a viable polity or society is driven in part by the discovery that those at the top play be utterly different rules than the rest of us.

Yup.

One more thing:  the claim routinely made by academics — and especially by the leaders of the Academy — is that in a complex and here-and-now society, universities teach and embody not just knowledge, but values — or rather, an approach to living that makes it possible to lead an ethical life, one of value. Obviously, everyone reading this can come up with examples in which such claims are honored only in the breach.  But still, that’s the point of the liberal arts, and have been claimed as such since the days of the trivium and quadrivium (and before).

That means to me that there really is a higher obligation here — just as there was and is for, say, the Catholic Church when confronted by the abomination of child rape.  The Church conspicuously failed in its duties to its own claims of virtue, and it continues to do so, which is one of the reasons why someone like me, not a member of the faith, so deeply resents any assertion of moral authority in politics by the princes of the church.

In that context Penn State/Paterno scandal only makes it easier to lump the universities in with every other failed institution in our society — at a time when the importance of knowledge and its interpretation/application to the great problems we face has never been greater.

Hence, it seems to me that Penn State needs demonstrate that it’s not just another Lehman/Boston Archdiocese.  How to do that?  I don’t really know — I haven’t thought hard, nor talked to people who really understand how institutional cultures change.  Suggestions?

Image:  Francisco de Goya, The Great He-Goat or Witches Sabbath, 1821-1823 (worth the click through for seeing it at a readable size.)


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