Rice or the Media: Whom do I condemn?

And I swear I’m not trying to pick on Newsweek.com, but it was there that I first saw an article on Condoleezza Rice’s new book. I was laughing from the first sentence:

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia were not about spreading democracy, but about addressing regional security issues.

Her recent public statements both are and are not part of a book tour: it’s likely many would say the tour is to promote her ideas, and the book is part of that effort, though I think that demeans the reasoning and efforts of others who write books, artificially ennobling Rice’s efforts to communicate her ideas and sell books at the same time while implicitly assigning a crass commercialism to others who write books and then accept lectures to speak about the same themes contained within the books. In any case, however, it’s undeniable that the public statements are part of an effort that is equally well reflected by the publication of her book, Democracy: The Long Road to Freedom.*1
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Newsweek Shocked – Shocked! To Find Racism Happening In Dress Codes

I nearly laughed myself silly over this recent piece at Newsweek.com:

Two black female students attending a charter school in Massachusetts were recently kicked off their sports teams and prohibited from attending a prom because they wore their hair in braids. The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, about 9 miles from Boston, enforces a strict dress code preventing students from wearing their hair in any unnatural way, which includes braids.

Twin students Maya and Deanna Cook, African-American sophomores, told local news outlets they were first told to take their braids out two weeks ago by school officials. The girls’ adoptive mother, Colleen Cook, told Boston’s 25 News that she received a call from the school informing her that students weren’t allowed to wear “anything artificial or unnatural in their hair.”

“We told them there’s nothing wrong with their hair the way it is. Their hair is beautiful, there’s no correcting that needs to be done,” Colleen Cook said, adding that the hair policy seems to target only students of color, who wear their hair in braids or extensions reflecting their African-American culture.

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For Your Enjoyment: Bill Nye Saves the World!

Got Netflix? As of yesterday, Bill Nye’s new series, Bill Nye Saves the World, is available on Netflix. The trailer looks

fun:

 

I seem to remember PZ over on Pharyngula posting a critique of some of Bill Nye’s actions recently, but I can’t seem to find it and I don’t remember wha the critique was. Should that critique be sufficient to keep you from supporting Bill Nye by watching the series, more power to you. Since I can’t remember the substance of the critique, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if many freethoughtblogs readers can’t either, and thus will chose to watch the new series. For you, I say happy TV times.

I do hope, however, that they limit the use of Rocky’s theme song.

 

 

 

Why Lynch Mob is Overused … and Underused

Content note for All The Racism, including graphic photos; witch hunt links contain All The Sexism.

A while back I wrote on Pharyngula about losing my patience with the phrase “witch hunt”. Witch hunts were real things, actively targeting real people for death. They weren’t “partisan”. They didn’t seek actual lawbreakers out in both Massachusetts and the Carolinas, but more aggressively sought out Republican lawbreakers in Massachusetts and more aggressively sought out Democratic lawbreakers in South Carolina. They didn’t take actual evidence and hype it more than it deserved: actual evidence did not exist. What was used as evidence came solely from the prosecutorial imagination.

Worse, witch hunts still take place today, and Christian denominations still encourage them.*1 While I don’t know of any recent witch hunts in the US or Canada, I’m more than happy to condemn this trivializing use of “witch hunt”.

All of which to say that I have been even more offended for even longer at hearing the misuse of “lynch,” “lynching” and “lynch mob”.

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A Page in the Farce: We take this seriously?

Carter Page, Russian tool extraordinaire, is being taken oddly seriously by the media. He claims that surveillance of him is entirely politically motivated, not to mention illegal and unethical, because before they “wiretapped” him they “wiretapped” two Russian espionage agents talking about how they were using Carter Page as a spy, but that he wasn’t being reliable about communication. This led them to question his competence and intelligence, but they were certain he was motivated by the desire for obscene amounts of wealth that might come by serving Russian interests, in particular by being rewarded with a high paying gig at (or consulting with, it’s not clear) Gazprom, the Russian fossil-fuel giant.  Ultimately, the agents were reassured of their ability to control Page because of their certainty that he was a greedy jerk motivated entirely by concern for money and the fact that Page visited Moscow more often than the spies themselves did.

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