AlterNet.org: Mary Elizabeth Williams http://twww.alternet.org/authors/mary-elizabeth-williams-0 en Lessons From Miss Teen USA: Being White, Privileged and Crowned Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry http://twww.alternet.org/culture/lessons-miss-teen-usa <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">No, white people, you don&#039;t get to say the N-word—a lesson Karlie Hay should have learned earlier in life.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_411521395.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I know many of you are going to be upset by what I’m going to say. I know all of your arguments about how very unfair it is. But white people, save yourself some time and angst and public embarrassment—and just don’t say the N-word. No, really, don’t. This goes about double if you’re a blonde, blue-eyed, teenage girl. Oh, does that disrupt your sense of entitlement? I’m so sorry. How hard the world must be for you.</p><p>So, speaking of white girls, have you met Karlie Hay? Over the weekend, the Texas 18-year-old beat out <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/sheridanwatson/wow-so-diverse?utm_term=.jsq1WQlOz#.opOkBJ423" target="_blank">her near-identical blonde, blue-eyed competition</a> to win the crown as Miss Teen USA.</p><p>What Miss Teen USA, you ask? Is <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2016/06/29/miss-teen-usa-to-eliminate-swimsuit-competition/86502942/" target="_blank">parading around adolescent girls in “athletic wear</a>” still an actual thing, you wonder? Yes, it is.</p><p>And shortly after snagging the crown on Saturday night, Hay, whose old Twitter handle—with its imperative to <a href="https://twitter.com/haaykarrls" target="_blank">“Be Somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody”</a>—is currently locked, was being called out on social media for her seriously clueless public history of racial slurs.</p><p>As director Xavier Burgin pointed out, our new Wonder Bread-level white Miss Teen has an unfortunate Twitter history of very casually referring to her buddies as <a href="https://twitter.com/XLNB/status/759761033699299329" target="_blank">“n----r” and “my n----r.”</a></p><p>Immediately heading off the inevitable rebuttals, Burgin predicted the response would be, “That was three years ago. ppl change! so you can say n*gger but we can’t? she’s a child!” But, as he also noted, “Three years ago homegirl was prolly anywhere from thirteen to fifteen, which is old enough to know not to say the n-word. If you’re old enough to have social media, <a href="https://twitter.com/XLNB/status/759762548036030464" target="_blank">you’re old enough to know what is and isn’t racist.”</a></p><p>On her brand-new @RealMissTXteen Twitter account, Hay said on Sunday that “Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person… I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for. Through hard work, education and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that… I am today a better person. I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of… The Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize <a href="https://twitter.com/RealMissTXteen/status/759649814342569984" target="_blank">the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women.”</a></p><p>So how do we parse that statement, coming from an 18-year-old blonde girl who just competed for and won a tiara?</p><p>I am a great believer in forgiveness. If I were being judged today on every magnificently stupid thing I did and said at 18, I’m not sure I’d have any friends or work to speak of. I’d like to hope that time and experience have expanded my ability to not be the idiot I was then.</p><p>On the other hand, even without benefit of social media, I know I never played fast and loose with racial slurs, and if my own adolescent daughters ever did now, I would bring down the hammer so hard their grandchildren would feel it.</p><p>But my daughters and I have had the benefit of growing up in racially diverse communities, where lessons in privilege are imparted early. Hay, the Tomball High Texas cheerleader, does not appear to have come from <a href="http://www.tmhscheer.com/squad.html" target="_blank">anywhere near such a world.</a> It’s possible that until she stepped into the spotlight in such a global way Saturday night, nobody had ever flat-out told her to cut the crap.</p><p>The Miss USA pageant has affirmed this week that in spite of her derogatory older tweets, Hay will retain her crown, saying that the organization hopes to support her with <a href="http://www.people.com/article/miss-teen-usa-karlie-hay-keep-crown-racist-tweets" target="_blank">“her continued growth.”</a> That’s a nice idea, and believe me, it beats the alternative of staying ignorant forever.</p><p>But it also reveals the incredible advantages that someone like Hay has. She does get to “grow.” She does get to move on. She isn’t tainted forever by her youthful dumb mistakes—and that’s a benefit of being young and pretty and white and having a tiara.</p><p>The pageant says, “She was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/miss-teen-usa-winner-karlie-hay-apologizes-language/story?id=41032291" target="_blank">she sincerely apologizes</a>,” but, hold up a sec—she<em> hasn’t. </em>She says she’s not proud of what she did. She says she’s had struggles. She boasts that she’s a better person now.</p><p>But she hasn’t actually come out and said, <em>hey, I’m sorry</em>. That would achieve a lot. And that she hasn’t done it proves she still has many lessons yet to learn.</p><p>Because while you would not even believe how many furious white people will happily argue all day long about how “If it’s okay for other people to say it, why can’t I?” the basic truth is that if you want to look at racial fairness in this country, we can really concede on this one. And if you want to be forgiven for your mistakes, start with actually apologizing for them.</p> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 07:37:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1061269 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture karlie hay miss teen USA racism beauty pageant race in america Wimbledon's Most Controversial Figure This Year Is a Dress http://twww.alternet.org/culture/wimbledons-most-controversial-figure-year-dress <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Who cares about the sport when you might get a glimpse of a female torso?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/27310013094_9815ccfee6_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s a prestigious competition featuring some of the greatest athletes in the world. Anyway, let’s talk about what the ladies in it are wearing! And whether we can see their midriffs!</p><p>The controversial breakout star of Wimbledon this year has turned out to be the NikeCourt Premier Slam Dress — a short, swingy, babydoll-like piece of attire that has created a storm on the court. At issue are both its questionable practicality and, gasp, its potential to flutter in a revealing manner.</p><p>Writing in The New York Times Tuesday, Ben Rothenberg explained that when Nike issued the dress to the female players who represent the brand, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/sports/tennis/nike-wimbledon-premier-slam-dress.html" target="_blank">it immediately garnered mixed reviews.</a> The company had promised “power pleats and racerback construction, which work in tandem to enable the athlete’s movement” but players instead found, as Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson said, “It was flying everywhere.” Players quickly improvised their own hacks, with Katie Boulter turning a headband into breeze taming belt, and Lucie Hradecka donning leggings underneath the dress, and Nike made some alterations to the side slits. The Times says that when Nike offered its players a more traditional ensemble, “There were several takers.” But others approved of the dress — Maria Sakkari told The Times, “I think it’s a very pretty dress, and I think that it’s very feminine.”</p><p>Ah, to be pretty and feminine. How important are those ideals what’s supposed to be straightforward competition? Very, apparently. Last year, after all, Ben Rothenberg noted in the Times that the greatest tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, “has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame.” He added that <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/07/13/stop_body_shaming_serena_williams_its_time_to_break_this_absurd_and_insulting_habit_once_and_for_all/" target="_blank">“Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to,”</a> because “body-image issues among female tennis players persist, compelling many players to avoid bulking up.” (Williams, meanwhile, has her own version of the Nike dress, with a form fitting top and pleated bottom. On Instagram this week, she shared a photo of herself in it and declared herself <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BHMzsuqA_Xx/?taken-by=serenawilliams" target="_blank">“kinda in love”</a> with it.)</p><p>Though the dress conforms to the Wimbledon standards of “decency,” its billowy nature has caused a ruckus, because apparently nobody’s ever seen a woman’s midsection anywhere. The Telegraph called it <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/29/judy-murray-calls-for-rethink-over-revealing-nike-dress-at-wimbl/" target="_blank">“revealing”</a> while “Inside Edition” naturally went all in, calling it “skimpy” and “naughty.” And the CBC, trotting out the greatest word combination in search engine optimization ever, reported that “Nike brings wardrobe malfunctions to Wimbledon.” Yet as Christina Cauterucci asked this week in Slate, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/nike-wimbledon-tennis-dress-too-floaty-skimpy-short-1.3654419" target="_blank">why are women still expected to play tennis in dresses in the first place?</a> Soberingly, it’s the same question Slate<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2001/07/athletes_in_skirts.html" target="_blank"> first asked 15 years ago.</a></p><p>Times change and sometimes women can actually be defined by something other than what they’re wearing on their bodies or how much skin they are showing. This week, the Miss Teen USA pageant — for those of you who forgot that Miss Teen USA is still a thing that exists — announced it was <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/29/media/miss-teen-usa-swimsuit-competition/" target="_blank">eliminating the swimsuit portion of its competition</a> — and replacing it with an athletic wear one. One tiny step for progress at time, I guess. And in the meantime, tennis player Eugenie Bouchard, who modeled the Nike dress in its promotions, doesn’t get the fuss over at item of clothing. “It’s funny that people paid a lot of attention to it,” she said this week, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/sports/tennis/nike-wimbledon-premier-slam-dress.html" target="_blank">“but I really think it’s really nice.” </a></p> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 06:51:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1059368 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Gender News & Politics Wimbledon Serena Williams nike fashion sports tennis sexism women The Dark Side of Viral Fame: 'Mac and Cheese Kid' Troubles Making News Again http://twww.alternet.org/culture/mac-and-cheese-kid-dark-side-viral-fame <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Nearly a year after his viral tirade, former UConn student Luke Gatti is still struggling with his demons.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-06-30_at_12.37.12_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Had he not attained infamy when a video of his shambling cafeteria demands for some “f__king bacon jalapeño mac and cheese” went viral last fall, Luke Gatti might very well still be in<a href="http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-mac-n-cheese-kid-florida-arrest-0629-20160628-story.html" target="_blank"> the desperate state he currently is.</a> But there can be no denying that it’s been a very, very bad year — and that becoming a punchline wasn’t in the plan.</p><p>The Hartford Courant revealed Tuesday that the 20-year-old former University of Connecticut student was arrested May 27 at the Wellness Resource Center in Florida, on charges of battery on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. It’s just the latest in a string of incidents that stretch back even before his notorious starring role in “Drunk Kid Wants Mac and Cheese.” Gatti was already familiar to law enforcement back in 2014, when, as a student at the University of Massachusetts <a href="http://onlyintherepublicofamherst.blogspot.com/2014/09/repeat-party-offender.html" target="_blank">he was arrested twice for disorderly conduct.</a> He also reportedly deployed a racial slur on an arresting officer. Then in October — before the original clip was pulled — he racked up more than a million views on YouTube for his nine minute long furious, slur-tinged, and ultimately physical confrontation with a manager of the University of Connecticut’s Union Street Market, a rant that begins with him near bragging,<a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/10/07/looks_like_the_drunk_mac_and_cheese_kids_finished_a_uconn/%20Gatti%20did%20indeed%20leave%20the%20school%20soon%20after." target="_blank"> “Yeah, yeah, I’m going to get expelled for this.” </a></p><p>A few days later, he issued a public apology, admitting he was “very intoxicated” and saying, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/10/13/mac_and_cheese_douche_luke_gattis_apology_does_sorry_excuse_his_abusive_aggressive_rant/" target="_blank">“I’ve got some problems that I am addressing. </a>This was seriously the wake-up call.” And his father came forward to plead for mercy for Gatti and his family, saying they had “been hit with a barrage of yelling, screaming, cursing, obnoxious, horrible, hateful, spiteful people berating me and my son for screaming and cursing and berating a stranger. There’s been a world full of people doing exactly what my son did and feeling justified in doing so.” And Bill McKay the market manager Gatti was so terrible to, publicly forgave him, saying, <a href="http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/5/6/remembering-mac-and-cheese-kid" target="_blank">“Everyone has done something stupid in their life. </a>There are no exceptions to the rule. Some mistakes are obviously bigger than others. Some, like this one, seem bigger because of the social media that exists today.”</p><p>In the aftermath of his explosive and abrupt departure from U Conn, Gatti entered treatment for his substance abuse issues. Last December, Rockville Superior Court Judge John B. Farley acknowledged Gatti “has only himself to blame” for his “excruciating and humiliating publicity” but added that “he has paid a big price” and<a href="http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-mac-n-cheese-kid-florida-arrest-0629-20160628-story.html" target="_blank">prophetically noted</a>, “It’s fair to assume that any future brushes with the law Mr. Gatti has will bring more unwanted publicity to him.”</p><p>In his latest incident, police were reportedly called to the Wellness Resource Center shortly after Gatti had returned there from a detox center in Fort Lauderdale. According to staff, Gatti was “in pain and his vital signs were elevated,” and doctors determined he was going through withdrawal. When they refused to give him medication for his symptoms, the police report states, “He was agitated and stated he was in pain and could not handle it anymore.” He returned several hours later “angry and agitated.”</p><p>Here’s where it gets really hard to read. The report says that “He then made statements that he did not care if he got hurt or if he hurt himself and wanted to be left alone,” and that while in police custody he claimed, “I just want to die, I just want to die,” and told police “He needs drugs and alcohol to feel better and <a href="http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-mac-n-cheese-kid-florida-arrest-0629-20160628-story.html" target="_blank">always has suicidal thoughts </a>and dreams of people hurting him. He also asked me to do him a favor and shoot him with my duty weapon.” The Hartford Courant reports that Gatti posted bail and was released on May 31. He is set to return to court in July. His probation from his October arrest is now in jeopardy. Getting in and staying in school are no longer his top priorities. And that big price he’s paid, for being young and having substance abuse problems, is still being paid.</p> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:21:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1059292 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture mac and cheese kid luke gotti viral fame social media youtube stars Yes, Trolling Can Be a Crime: Facebook Harasser Faces up to 3 Years in Prison After Targeting Women http://twww.alternet.org/culture/yes-trolling-can-be-crime-facebook-harasser-faces-3-years-prison-after-targeting-women <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">An Australian man pleads guilty after finding himself shocked to be charged after issuing rape threats online.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/11973177354_f39dafc6ca_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>When Paloma Brierley Newton warned that she was going to report his behavior to the police, Zane Alchin wanted to know, <a href="http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/zane-alchin-faces-three-years-in-jail-for-posting-derogatory-comments-about-a-woman-on-facebook/news-story/557198b0732cc2b5a19a86b871e87668" target="_blank">“What law am I breaking?”</a> Unaware of how the legal system works, he added, “I’m not the one out of the f__king kitchen.” Turns out, that law would be the one where you’re not supposed to threaten to rape people. Attorneys for the 25-year-old Australian man said Monday he would plead guilty to “using a carriage service to menace, harass, or cause offense.” He now faces up to three years in prison.</p><p>The story began last summer, when a different man, Chris Hall, posted a screenshot of a woman’s Tinder profile that included a raunchy Drake lyric, with a disparaging “Stay classy ladies.” The woman then shared the post among her friends, and Hall was soon fired from his job for violating its social media policy. Predictably, this was when the full force of entitled baby-man rage then turned on the woman and her friends—or, as Alchin called them, “f__king basic sluts.”</p><p>Alchin continued to go on a tear, saying, “It’s people like you who make it clear women should never have been given rights…. I’d rape you if you were better looking.” He also asserted that “You know the best thing about a feminist they don’t get any action so when you rape them it feels 100 times tighter” and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jun/20/sydney-man-pleads-guilty-to-making-threats-on-facebook" target="_blank">“You’ll be eating my c__k till you puke.”</a> He later claimed he had been drunk at the time of his posts and that they didn’t “represent him as a person.” He further argued that he was only trying “to offend a group of feminists that were harassing me and my friends,” and that—and this is the best part—he was unaware his actions were a crime.</p><p>Let’s unpack that one. If a man were to approach a woman on the street and tell her, “You’ll be eating my c__k till you puke,” would you assume he was threatening and harassing her? Yet for some reason, a large segment of the online dirtbag community doesn’t recognize that this is also unacceptable on the Internet. Of course, a large part of the problem is that too often, there are no consequences for just this sort of thing. Last year in the U.S., Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark called upon the Department of Justice to <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/11/01/gamergates_infuriating_myth_why_searching_for_common_ground_is_a_big_mistake/" target="_blank">“prioritize investigations and prosecutions of cyber abuse crimes targeting women,”</a> citing how the women involved in the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/11/01/gamergates_infuriating_myth_why_searching_for_common_ground_is_a_big_mistake/" target="_blank">Gamergate controversy</a> “have been repeatedly subjected to explicit threats of rape and murder, their personal information has been disclosed, and several have been forced to flee their homes and cancel public events.” And she noted that “Although protections against violent online threats already exist, enforcement is drastically lagging.”</p><p>It’s the same all over the world—we’ve somehow managed to create <a href="http://www.cc.com/video-clips/4bplv4/inside-amy-schumer-new-twitter-button" target="_blank">a culture where “I’m going to rape you” is a common default response</a> to the presence of women and girls in the world. Yet the more women who come forward and push back, the more the accountability there will be. Ms. Brierley Newton, who saved screenshots of the abuse and filed that police report, said officers “initially offered little support.” But now, as the founder of the advocacy group Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced, she said on Monday that “Our victory today sends a message to all women that they don’t have to put up with harassment online, that there are steps and channels they can take, and that Australian law is on their side… “I think that, by standing up and saying that he is guilty of a crime, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jun/20/sydney-man-pleads-guilty-to-making-threats-on-facebook" target="_blank">it can put an end to all the backlash of, ‘This is just the internet, this isn’t a crime.'”</a> She added, “Pleading guilty’s one thing but actually admitting that you’ve done the wrong thing, as opposed to realizing you can’t get out of what you’ve done—I want to hear him say that he is sorry for what he said, rather than he’s sorry that he got caught.”</p><p>Alchin will be sentenced next month. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that as he left court Monday, he covered his face with a jacket, while a man accompanying him, dismayed at the crowd of reporters surrounding Alchin, told the journalists—with no apparent sense of irony—<a href="http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-labourer-zane-alchin-switches-to-guilty-plea-over-tinder-shaming-case-20160620-gpn2on.html" target="_blank">“This is harassment.”</a></p><p> </p> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:45:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1058657 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture facebook Dear Internet Experts on Gorillas and Parenting: Save Your Outrage—There's No 'Justice for Harambe' http://twww.alternet.org/culture/theres-no-justice-harambe <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A debate over the death of a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla after a child enters its enclosure goes nuclear. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/angry_person_on_internet.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> If only we could harness all the outrage across social media and use it as an alternative energy source, we could reverse climate change overnight. Imagine, for example, if there were a way to redirect the all the different flavors of fury that erupted this weekend after the Cincinnati Zoo made the decision to shoot and kill an endangered silverback gorilla after a preschool-aged boy got into its enclosure.</p><p>The drama began on Saturday, when, according to one witness, the boy said he wanted to jump into the gorilla’s space. The mother, who was tending to other children, reportedly told him, <a href="http://www.wlwt.com/news/witness-describes-gorilla-world-incident-video/39777684" target="_blank">“No, you’re not.”</a> But he somehow managed to crawl under a railing and fall into the moat of the habitat—and naturally, onlookers captured what happened next on video. At times, it seems the 400-pound Harambe is being gentle and protective of the child, but at others, he can be seen <a href="https://youtu.be/Zfuz7cTDNeI" target="_blank">dragging him through the water</a>, possibly agitated by the screams of the crowd.</p><p>As zoo director Thane Maynard told reporters later, “It seemed very much by our professional team, our dangerous-animal response team, to be a life threatening situation. And so the choice was made to put down or shoot Harambe. And so he’s gone…. It’s a sad day all the way around.” But he added, “The right choice was made. It was a difficult choice…. the team did a good job and they made a tough choice and they made the right choice, because <a href="http://www.wlwt.com/news/full-briefing-17yearold-lowland-gorilla-shot-killed-after-boy-gets-into-enclosure/39774200" target="_blank">they saved that little boy’s life.”</a></p><p>Maynard said the choice to kill the animal was made out of concern that in an “agitated” situation, tranquilizers might take too long to take effect, and he could potentially have had a “dramatic response.” The child, meanwhile, was brought to the hospital with no serious injuries. His family has issued a statement that “We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action of the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that <a href="http://www.wlwt.com/news/family-issues-statement-following-childs-encounter-with-zoo-gorilla/39781828" target="_blank">they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”</a></p><p>Precisely how did that boy get into the enclosure? I don’t know, and you don’t either. I would however wager that if that if a small child can quickly and efficiently get into a dangerous animal’s space, the animal’s facility could improve its safety measures.</p><p>But in the immediate aftermath of the incident—and the death of Harambe—anger and blame has been flying thick and fast. A “Justice for Harambe” Facebook page to<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/05/29/it-could-have-been-very-bad-gorilla-killed-after-boy-falls-into-cincinnati-zoo-exhibit/?tid=a_inl" target="_blank"> “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder”</a> already has over 118,000 likes, with commenters asserting that “Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder.” Protesters outside the zoo have called for a boycott, and to “Keep brats out of habitats.” PETA has issued a statement that “Harambe “paid with his life <a href="http://www.peta.org/blog/gorilla-pays-with-life-for-others-negligence/" target="_blank">for others’ negligence.”</a></p><p>And because sitcom star Kaley Cuoco (“Big Bang Theory”) certainly knows better than a professional response team, she wrote on Instagram, “If you watch the footage, you see <a href="http://www.people.com/article/kaley-cuoco-on-cincinnati-zoo-gorilla-death" target="_blank">this gorgeous animal holding that child’s hand.</a> Do with that, what you will. As sad as this makes me, a part of me is happy for that amazing creature doesn’t have to live in captivity another day.”</p><p>The boy’s parents, meanwhile, have been inevitably named—and their photographs released—by some news outlets, along with the fact that his father has a drug trafficking conviction and “a lengthy criminal history.” At least one newspaper has reported going to the family’s house to attempt to get a statement. The implications are clear in the anger and blame being spread around—bad parents, bratty child, bad zoo. They don’t deserve privacy or (how ironic) consideration about their continued safety. The boy’s mother has reportedly <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/31/zoos-arent-your-baby-sitter-parenting-critics-flay-mom-after-gorilla-shot-to-protect-her-toddler/?tid=pm_national_pop_b" target="_blank">now deleted her Facebook page</a>, after a deluge of aggressive comments—and even her place of work has had to do likewise.</p><p>It’s clear that Harambe was a victim of a terrible situation. His former caretaker at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, Jerry Stones, told the New York Post this week that Harambe “was nurturing. He would care for his sisters and his mother. <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/05/29/zoo-kills-gorilla-seen-dragging-boy-who-fell-into-enclosure/" target="_blank">He was not a mean animal.</a>” But “meanness” has nothing to do with a 400-pound animal, a body of water, and a small child, just as “neglect” isn’t the guaranteed reason that child got into that space. And all the internet outrage in the world won’t bring Harambe back, or make a hard decision a simple one. “The child wasn’t under attack, but <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/30/shooting-an-endangered-animal-is-worse-than-murder-grief-over-gorillas-death-turns-to-outrage/?tid=a_inl" target="_blank">all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that,” </a>Thane Maynard said this weekend. “He certainly was at risk.”</p><p><iframe height="350" scrolling="no" src="http://media.salon.com/2016/05/5.31.16.gorilla.janetupadhye.mp4" width="100%"></iframe></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 07:16:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1057528 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Activism Culture gorillas harambe cincinnati animal rights zoos parenting The Bizarre Oklahoma Rape Law: It Might Get Fixed http://twww.alternet.org/gender/bizarre-oklahoma-rape-law-it-might-get-fixed <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">But until then, Oklahoma law still doesn&#039;t recognize it as possible to give oral sex against your will if you&#039;re intoxicated.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_42851986.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’d be great if we could get to the point of putting in place a procedure for victims of sexual assault to obtain justice <em>without</em> a huge social outcry first. But in the meantime, I guess we’ll take whatever measure of progress we can get. So thanks, Oklahoma!</p><p>The state’s been in the spotlight lately after news reports came to light of <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/04/28/so_its_not_rape_if_shes_passed_out_drunk_oklahoma_ruling_shines_light_on_disturbing_loopholes_in_sexual_assault_laws/" target="_blank">a shocking recent ruling in a sexual assault case</a> involving two teens. A 17-year-old boy was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old girl he’d been drinking with in a Tulsa park after he offered to give her a ride home. Witnesses said the girl had to be carried into his car; she later woke up in the hospital in the middle of a sexual assault exam. Her blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit and “indicative of severe alcohol poisoning.” A DNA test revealed the boy’s semen on her leg and around her mouth. The boy said that what had happened between them was consensual; she asserted she had no memory of leaving the park.</p><p>But here’s the funny part—it didn’t matter anyway. As the boy’s lawyer confidently asserted, “There was absolutely no evidence of force or him doing anything to make this girl give him oral sex other than she was too intoxicated to consent.” And yes, being “too intoxicated to consent” has been a legitimate legal leg for alleged assailants to stand on in the great state of Oklahoma. The case ended with the court of appeals unanimously affirming the state’s stance that <a href="http://www.ocdw.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/State-v.-RZM.pdf" target="_blank">“forcible oral sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated</a> as to be completely unconscious as the time of the sexual act of oral copulation.” That, however, may be changing very soon.</p><p>Weirdly, the state does already acknowledge that a person who is unconscious cannot consent, and that lack of consent constitutes sexual assault—as long as the sexual assault is vaginal or anal. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/27/oral-sex-rape-ruling-tulsa-oklahoma-alcohol-consent" target="_blank">Attorney Jennifer Gentile told the Guardian</a> this week, “There are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the crack. This case—because it did not involve vaginal rape but an oral violation—seems to be one of them.” Yes, if you’re in Oklahoma and you’re going to be sexually assaulted, make sure it’s in the right location in your body. You can see why the Oklahoma story drew shocked responses from victim rights advocates across the country.</p><p>Now, Scott Biggs, a former prosecutor and current state representative, is aiming to fix this revolting loophole. In a statement this week, he said, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/29/us/oklahoma-sodomy-laws-inebriation/index.html" target="_blank">“I am horrified</a> by the idea that we would allow these depraved rapists to face a lower charge simply because the victim is unconscious.” He has announced plans to rush a change to the law through legislature. “I think the judges made a grave error,” he says. “But if they need more clarification, we are happy to give it to them by fixing the statute. Unfortunately, legal minds often get stuck on questions of semantics, when it is clear to most of us what the intent of the law is.”</p><p>In a Facebook post Thursday, Biggs said, “I was appalled to learn about this ruling, the lack of justice for this young woman is shocking. HB 2398, a bill that I authored earlier in the session, has been amended in conference committee. We should have this court created loophole fixed next week. While I can’t find the words to express my deep sorrow for the victim and her family, I can guarantee them this will be fixed.” And you’ve got to appreciate that he’s currently in the trenches of the FB comments, citing legal precedent via previous sodomy convictions.</p><p>A clarification of the law won’t undo what’s already happened to this young woman. But perhaps she can have some measure of satisfaction knowing it’ll be easier for the next girl in her shoes to press forward with her case. And it’ll tell Oklahoma what any sentient human already knows—that if it’s not consent when it happens vaginally or anally, it’s actually not consent if it happens orally either.</p> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:21:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1055586 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Civil Liberties Culture Gender News & Politics Sex & Relationships oklahoma oklahoma rape law rape consent Even Our Burgers Are Angry Now: Burger King's 'Angriest Whopper' Is 'Make America Great Again' on a Bun http://twww.alternet.org/election-2016/even-our-burgers-are-angry-now-burger-kings-angriest-whopper-make-america-great-again <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Take that, juice cleanses! This fast-food monster is banking on election-year anger ruling our stomachs, too.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/7751030880_e4fd388786_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If you could distill the feeling of “Make America Great Again” into what we loosely call “food” form, it would no doubt look just like a combination of fury and saturated fat. Guess what? It’s here, in the form of something Burger King calls The Angriest Whopper.</p><p>The announcement of the limited-run new delicacy, which the fast food chain is debuting Thursday, promises a new Whopper, <a href="https://twitter.com/BurgerKing/status/715214550786838529" target="_blank">“angrier than ever.”</a> Rootin’ tootin’ it is! Pew! Pew pew pew! A follow up to the popular Angry Whopper, this concoction features a patty topped with bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, “crispy” onions, jalapenos, mayonnaise and “spicy angry sauce,” as well as a bun as bright as Donald Trump’s face, with the hot sauce baked in. I got colitis just looking at a picture of it.</p><p>The rageaholic Whopper is indeed <a href="http://www.burgerking.com.mx/en/menu-item/angry-whopper" target="_blank">a formidable piece of work.</a> It clocks in at 790 calories, or about a third of <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/estimated-calorie-requirement" target="_blank">an adult male’s recommended daily intake. </a> It’s got 1,500 milligrams of salt, which is about <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479" target="_blank">2/3 of the recommended daily maximum. </a>Then there’s the fat — 48 grams — about how much as most as <a href="http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/ideally-many-grams-fat-should-consume-daily-5501.html" target="_blank">you should consume per day.</a> Oh, and as a bonus for a savory dish, it’s got nearly three teaspoons of sugar. Add some fries, a soda and what the hell, a vanilla soft serve, and I’m confident it could finish off Ron Swanson himself.</p><p>Why would Burger King wreak havoc with God and nature and create such a monster? A representative from the company said in a statement, “The black bun of our A.1. Halloween Whopper created a lot of conversation, and our previous limited time Angry Whopper sandwich was a hit with guests. So, we’re combining the power of these past hits into a star-studded sandwich we think our guests will unanimously agree is the next <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/new-burger-king-angriest-whopper-puts-flame-flame-grilled-n547796" target="_blank">must-eat burger.”</a> In our new apoplecic burgerscape, the phrase “must-eat” seems a chilling directive.</p><p>In recent years, fast food chains have found themselves in a kind of escalating arms race, rolling out ever more defiantly valve replacement-inducing fare. Kentucky Fried Chicken likely thought it had exercised the nuclear option six years ago when it rolled out its notorious <a href="http://www.salon.com/2010/04/12/kfc_double_down_taste_test/" target="_blank">Double Down</a> — a bacon and cheese sandwich in which fried chicken served as the bread. In 2013, Pizza Hut launched an unholy<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/crazy-cheesy-crust-pizza_n_2998516.html%20%E2%80%94" target="_blank"> “crazy crust”</a> pizza—possibly because it had a nicer ring than “criminally insane crust”—featuring five different kinds of cheese. Subway offers a <a href="https://www.subway.com/Menu/product.aspx?CC=USA&amp;LC=ENG&amp;MenuTypeId=1&amp;MenuId=35&amp;ProductId=283" target="_blank">Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt.</a> And 7-Eleven, perhaps correctly assuming you are out of your mind high right now, can provide you with a <a href="http://doritos.7-eleven.com/" target="_blank">cheese loaded Doritos “experience.”</a> (Pro tip if you’re up for the “experience”: Neon orange food burns like hell when it comes back up.)</p><p>But the Angriest Whopper gives them all a run for their money. It is the Whopper of talk radio listening indignation, the Whopper that laughs in the face of juice bars popping up on every corner, that scoffs at the notion of clean eating. It is the food that believes Gwyneth Paltrow is a communist. This is the Whopper that believes our founding fathers fought for us to have, a Whopper of destiny, a Whopper that screams into the night, “You couldn’t handle this, Europe!” It is full of unbridled indignation. And bacon. Which makes it entirely the most American thing in America right now, and flavor of our time.</p> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 12:20:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1053693 at http://twww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 Food food politics food politics burger king election 2016 Susan Sarandon Can Afford a So-Called Trump 'Revolution'—the Rest of Us Will Be Screwed When 'Things Really Explode' http://twww.alternet.org/election-2016/susan-sarandon-can-afford-so-called-trump-revolution-rest-us-will-be-screwed-when <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Sarandon joins Louis C.K. in being just fine with a possible GOP win that would put the less-privileged in jeopardy.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5029131177_e00447e288_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Celebrities—they’re not just like us! They’re not regular people! Even the ones who seem likable and earthy, who probably are pretty likable and earthy, still live in a totally different America than the rest of us here in the 99 percent. Case in point—imagine being well enough off to not be scared out of your mind right now about the outcome of the 2016 election.</p><p>Susan Sarandon doesn’t seem to be sweating it. Sarandon—who three years ago declared, “I think of myself as a humanist because I think it’s less alienating to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2013/jun/30/susan-sarandon-q-and-a" target="_blank">people who think of feminism as being a load of strident bitches</a> and because you want everyone to have equal pay, equal rights, education and health care,” is a Bernie Sanders supporter. But in a Monday conversation with MSNBC Chris Hayes, she went further, saying that “I think Bernie would probably encourage people to [support Hillary if he loses] because he doesn’t have any ego in this thing. But I think a lot of people are [saying], ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to.'"</p><p>When pressed how she’d vote if it came down to Clinton or Trump, she admitted, “I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens,” adding, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/03/29/bernie_sanders_supporter_susan_sarandon_says_she_may_not_vote_for_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_will_bring_the_revolution_immediately_if_he_gets_in/" target="_blank">“Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode</a>… If you think it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now, then you’re not in touch with the status quo. The status quo is not working.”Well, sure, <a href="https://youtu.be/ePiKE83sAIg" target="_blank">the status is not quo.</a> But it must be super nice to be a highly-paid Oscar winner who at nearly 70 can still be <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-beauty/news/susan-sarandon-69-named-loreal-paris-brand-ambassador-w161030" target="_blank">a L’Oreal brand ambassador</a> and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/02/05/susan_sarandon_is_actively_trolling_piers_morgan_and_it_is_glorious_twitter_users_are_sharing_their_own_cleavage_shots_in_solidarity/" target="_blank">feisty fashion role model.</a> It must be nice to espouse liberal causes but also feel secure that you’ll be fine if everything goes entirely to the dogs. Your family wouldn’t be deported. Escalating racism? Not your problem. A misogynist in the White House <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/03/22/donald_trump_sexist_bully_calling_a_female_journalist_beautiful_at_an_interview_isnt_a_compliment/" target="_blank">setting the tone on how to talk to women?</a> Wouldn’t affect your career or personal safety. Your health insurance wouldn’t be lost. You wouldn’t lose your job or your mortgage. You have no student loans to default on. You could, you might imagine, safety watch <a href="http://therealdeal.com/2013/10/03/susan-sarandon-hands-over-clinton-hill-pad-to-rocker-son/" target="_blank">“things really explode”</a> from your West Village penthouse. That’s a privilege the rest of us don’t have. And that’s a privilege that other celebrities who’ve been outspoken about politics have forgotten, too. Look at Louis C.K., who did a hilariously <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/02/29/this_oscar_is_going_home_in_a_honda_civic_louis_c_k_steals_the_show_with_a_real_tribute_to_an_unloved_category/" target="_blank">populist riff on the underpaid documentarians</a> living in “crappy apartments” at the Oscars—and whose own multiple residences include <a href="http://hamptons.curbed.com/2014/5/29/10094254/heres-the-gorgeous-shelter-island-house-louis-ck-just-bought" target="_blank">a $2.44M summer house on Shelter Island.</a> Unlike Sarandon, the comedian is clear in his contempt for Trump, bluntly telling his fans recently, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/03/07/what_louis_c_k_s_powerful_trump_warning_gets_wrong/" target="_blank">“The guy is Hitler.”</a></p><p>But then he went on to say, “And I’m not advocating for Hillary or Bernie. I like them both but frankly I wish the next president was a conservative only because we had Obama for eight years and we need balance.” Yes, he rather optimistically explained that “but it only works if the conservatives put up a good candidate. A good smart conservative to face the liberal candidate so they can have a good argument and the country can decide which way to go this time.” He, however, seems to have the luxury of forgetting that the leading contender after Trump is literal lord of the underworld Ted Cruz, who’s so gonzo to <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ted-cruz-isnt-crazy-hes-much-worse-20151204" target="_blank">roll back whatever gains women, minorities and LGBT persons</a> have made over the past several decades that he’s currently occupying more nightmares than Pennywise the Clown. If “we need balance” or a “revolution” so much, does that mean rich celebrities will spend the next four years living like the other half? Didn’t think so.</p><p>The future of America, for those of us who live in it and aren’t award-winning millionaires, is not some abstract experiment. These are our lives and livelihoods and loved ones and basic human rights to dignity and respect on the line. And if you’re successful enough to have forgotten that, at least do us the favor of keeping quiet about it.</p><p> </p><p> </p> Tue, 29 Mar 2016 08:09:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1053489 at http://twww.alternet.org Election 2016 Culture Election 2016 The Right Wing susan sarandon donald trump louis CK election 2016 the 1% Of All the Reasons Ted Cruz Shouldn’t Be President, Infidelity Alone Shouldn’t be One of Them http://twww.alternet.org/election-2016/all-reasons-ted-cruz-shouldnt-be-president-infidelity-alone-shouldnt-be-one-them <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Cruz is the worst! But attacks on his private life also contribute to a toxic culture around sex and privacy.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/ted_cruz_12.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I understand the allure of the possible revelation that a world class stone thrower also abides in a glass house. But of all the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/03/25/ted_cruz_asked_me_to_educated_him_about_muslims_now_i_know_he_learned_nothing_partner/" target="_blank">reasons to be outraged</a> about Ted Cruz, of all the nyah nyah nyah reasons to pick the guy apart, Friday’s explosive claims that the Republican presidential candidate has repeatedly cheated on his wife seem to be wildly missing the point. If you want to take a political candidate down, can it please, in 2016, not be over his private consensual adult sexual behavior?</p><p>The National Enquirer — the tabloid that six years ago effectively <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/21/AR2010012102670.html" target="_blank">torpedoed John Edwards’ political career</a> by exposing that he’d had a child with his former campaign videographer Rielle Hunter — claims this week that “Private detectives are digging into at least five affairs Ted Cruz supposedly had.” Among Cruz’s alleged conquests are “a foxy political consultant and a high-placed D.C. attorney.… and even a wild sex worker.” The story features pixelated images of five women it says engaged in “romps that will destroy Ted Cruz!”</p><p>The story, especially coming at the end of a week in which Donald Trump pointedly threatened to “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife Heidi — and then escalated to a retweeted <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/03/24/donald_trump_despises_women_mocking_heidi_cruzs_looks_is_a_new_low_in_this_grotesque_sausage_waving_campaign/" target="_blank">snipe about Mrs. Cruz’s appearance</a> — is intriguingly timed, to say the least. As the conservative blog The Last Refuge points out, “There is more than a strong probability each of the outlined group (pictured) was contacted prior to publication; <a href="http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/03/24/the-national-enquirer-runs-story-of-multiple-ted-cruz-affairs/" target="_blank">and one of those is very close to the Donald Trump campaign.”</a></p><p>Since then, naturally, social media detectives have been going bonkers trying to identify the women — one of whose cloaked image looks a lot like Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who today <a href="https://twitter.com/KatrinaPierson/likes" target="_blank">liked a tweet</a> referencing the insinuations. And just Thursday, Pierson appeared on CNN to defend Trump’s behavior toward Heidi Cruz, saying she wasn’t offended by it because <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cruz-spox-to-trump-spox-how-are-you-not-embarrassed-by-your-boss-behavior/" target="_blank">“I’m one of those women that doesn’t need validation from outside sources.”</a> Two of the other women are speculated to be known in conservative circles, too — one as a former Carly Fiorina staffer and one as former Cruz communications staffer. One of them is married.</p><p>In Beltway politics, sex isn’t always just about sex. The Enquirer story would seem to imply that a Trump staffer, one whose job it is to discredit Cruz, has been intimate with him. (On Friday, Pierson cryptically liked a tweet from a follower who said, “I know the NE story is Bulls__t, This member of the #TrumpTrain <a href="https://twitter.com/1jimmer/status/713240116999770112" target="_blank">does not care about ur past</a>. But is very proud of ur future.”) And the possibility that Cruz had a tryst with a Fiorina staffer does throw into new light the puzzling move by Cruz’s super PAC Keep the Promise 1 last year to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/why-did-carly-fiorina-accept-500000-ted-cruz-super-pac" target="_blank">give half a million dollars to Fiorina’s campaign.</a> But Crooks and Liars’ Karoli Kuns is still skeptical of the whole story, calling it extremely <a href="http://crooksandliars.com/2016/03/national-enquirer-claims-have-scoop-ted" target="_blank">“conveeeeeeenient</a>” and noting, “It feels to me like Trump dropped a whole lot of garbage over at the Enquirer to discredit Ted Cruz, and that sense is backed up even more by the fact that one of the lovely ladies is supposedly Donald Trump’s spokeswoman. Still, it certainly seems to have lit up the right wing blogosphere a bit, particularly those who reside in the Trump camp.”</p><p>And by the way, if you’re chortling over Cruz’s reputed indiscretions, just remember that the leading Republican candidate is a man whose first marriage ended in a contentious divorce after he had a <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2015/07/donald-ivana-trump-divorce-prenup-marie-brenner" target="_blank">notoriously well publicized affair</a> with a woman nearly two decades his junior.</p><p>So is this a case of yet another family values conservative who lives by a different set of rules in his private life? Or is it just incredibly an dirty political game? And of all the reasons that Cruz shouldn’t be president, is an accusation that he slept with other women really the one he ought to go down for? As of Friday morning, Cruz has yet to comment on the National Enquirer. But earlier this week he tweeted to Donald Trump, “Heidi is the love of my life.”</p> Fri, 25 Mar 2016 13:17:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1053323 at http://twww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 ted cruz donald trump 2016 elections john edward national enquirer Cult TV Hero Xena 'Warrior Princess' Finally Comes out of the Closet http://twww.alternet.org/media/cult-tv-hero-xena-warrior-princess-finally-comes-out-closet <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Everyone knew Gabrielle wasn&#039;t just Xena&#039;s sidekick, but the new show will &quot;fully explore&quot; their couplehood.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/xena-and-gabrielle_article_story_large.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>For almost anyone who watched the iconic “Xena: Warrior Princess” during its late-'90s-era run, the idea that Xena and her young comrade Gabrielle were more than buddies registers mostly as a big fat “no kidding.” But while the original series got by for years on its sly — and much-loved — subtext, a new reboot leaves no room for doubt. We had to go two decades into the future from where we started, but we’ve finally got a mythological ancient world with gay people.</p><p>Last year <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/03/xena-gabrielle-lovers" target="_blank">NBC gave the go-ahead for a pilot</a> for a new “Xena” from Javier Grillo-Marxuach, the writer and producer behind “The 100.” And just to make things clear from the outset, during a recent Q&amp;A on Tumblr, he promised, “There is no reason to bring back Xena if it is not there for the purpose of <a href="http://okbjgm.tumblr.com/post/140591060316/do-you-think-the-fans-reaction-to-lexas-death" target="_blank">fully exploring</a> a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s.”  To which many of us can only reply, whoo hoo!</p><p>In much the same way that many of us, now a generation older and parents, enjoy it when Pixar or the like throws us the bone of <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/adults-jokes-in-cartoons-you-didnt-understand-as-a-kid#.waVJB5YK7" target="_blank">a grownup joke</a> or reference in our kid fare, there was a time when watching the original “Xena’s” obvious but never directly stated gay plot felt like being in on a secret. A secret <a href="https://youtu.be/oj7xIrm_AJY" target="_blank">no one had gone to great lengths to conceal</a>, granted, but a secret nonetheless. And there was a degree of fun in that, of seeing the show deftly navigate working on two levels.</p>Fans, meanwhile, loved it, loved it as the delicious little morsel of LGBT representation it was. Remember, when “Xena” debuted, it was only one year after “Roseanne” had boldly and controversially aired <a href="https://youtu.be/cYzli-ioVW0" target="_blank">a same-sex kiss</a> — albeit one that mostly depicted the back Mariel Hemingway’s head. This was a time when the peak lesbian visibility on prime time television was Ross’s ex-wife Carol on “Friends.” (And the fact that his wife had left him for a woman was still a source of mirth.) We didn’t have a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — let alone the brilliant early 2000s coming out arc of Willow Rosenberg. We didn’t even have a “Will &amp; Grace” yet. And Ellen was two years away from her simple yet at the time revelatory declaration that <a href="http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1704183_1704257_1704513,00.html" target="_blank">“Yep, I’m gay”</a> and playing it straight on her self-titled sitcom.<p>And not even that long ago, things were still very different. My teen has recently been binge watching here way through all of “Ugly Betty” — a show that ended its run just six years ago — and it’s gratifying to see how dated it already seems. It was an undeniably sharp, funny show and a breakthrough for diverse representation at the time, but its starring gay male characters were broadly drawn, and its trans female character — Alexis — was played by Rebecca Romijn and regularly referred to in terms of when she “was a man.” If you’d have told me, even five years ago, we’d have a Golden Globe-winning TV show that featured a showstopping original musical number entitled <a href="https://youtu.be/Fen-6lhrJs8">“Getting Bi,”</a> I frankly might have been skeptical.</p><p>In an interview with Lesbian News in 2003, Lucy Lawless said of Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle, “It wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda like her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was <a href="http://pinoyxenites.tripod.com/Lawless/articles/lesbiannew.htm" target="_blank">“Nope, they’re married, man.”</a> And speaking with After Ellen eight years ago, actress Renee O’Connor, who played Gabrielle, said that “It was very clear that we were together. They are so in love with each other, they love each other so dearly; there’s no way you can say that’s not true. Anyone can see that from watching the show.” But when asked if she thought the relationship would be more clearly defined if the show were to be remade in 2008, she said, “I don’t know. <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/tv/29914-bringing-out-the-warrior-princess" target="_blank">Maybe there’s a</a> <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/tv/29914-bringing-out-the-warrior-princess" target="_blank">little bit more hint of acceptance today.</a>Maybe, maybe not. You can only put it up and see what would happen.” It’s taken time, but how tremendous, now, to not have to wonder, to not have to maybe. Whether the pilot progresses to a full series is still yet to be seen, but this new Xena’s status — as the hero we always knew she was — is already clear.</p><p> </p>  Tue, 15 Mar 2016 14:59:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1052629 at http://twww.alternet.org Media Civil Liberties Gender Media xena feminism tv lgbt Carrie Fisher Shuts Down the Ageist Haters as Only Carrie Fisher Can http://twww.alternet.org/gender/carrie-fisher-shuts-down-ageist-haters-only-carrie-fisher-can <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The &quot;Star Wars&quot; actress puts her critics in their place with one delightfully vulgar tweet. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/star_wars_trailer3-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Oh, Carrie Fisher, we are not worthy of you. But you give and give anyway. So let’s all be grateful to “The Force Awakens” for bestowing upon us this year’s abundance of greatness from our beloved Leia, up to and including her on the money comments this week on how everybody can just shut up about her age.</p><p>While the entire Internet’s been losing its damn mind lately over a decades image of shirtless Harrison Ford and Mindy Kaling has decreed the 73 year-old actor <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/726998/this-vintage-photo-of-shirtless-harrison-ford-proves-he-was-a-fox-long-before-star-wars" target="_blank">“still mega bangable on all planets,”</a> Carrie Fisher — who is 14 years Ford’s junior — has in contrast had to address the apparently nonstop disappointment of those who wish she’d remained in a permanent gold bikini state. And she’s done it with her trademark class and wit. Earlier this month, she replied to “Good Morning America’s” Amy Robach’s question of whether she needed to be persuaded to appear in the new “Star Wars” by drolly commenting, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/07/carrie_fishers_blunt_magical_press_tour_is_already_the_best_thing_about_the_return_of_star_wars/" target="_blank">“They don’t have to ask you if you want to work at that age… you’ll see someday.”</a> Then on Tuesday, she rolled up her sleeves on Twitter and talked about it some more.</p><p>It was a hint of things to come when she retweeted a Tumblr post noting, “I get really protective over Carrie Fisher because nerds will go on and on about how cool and great Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford still are, but they’ll always be like ‘Carrie Fisher sure didn’t age well huh’ and it’s like you know what? f_ck you. <a href="http://daftalchemist.tumblr.com/post/134835109004/i-get-really-protective-over-carrie-fisher-because" target="_blank">she aged beautifully.</a>she’s amazing. she’s gorgeous. just because you can’t fantasize about her returning to the gross metal slave bikini doesn’t mean she isn’t exactly as incredible as her old cast mates.” She soon followed up with a more direct command, saying, “Please stop debating about whether OR not aged well. unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings.<a href="https://twitter.com/carrieffisher/status/681738143075176448" target="_blank">My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have.</a> Blow us.” It’s been favorited over 35 thousand times — and still going. She then retweeted a comment from a woman who observed, “Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age,” and then for the kicker posted a photo of her dog Gary and the message, “My body is my brain bag, it hauls me around to those places &amp; in front of faces where theres something to say or see…. Youth&amp;BeautyR/NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS, they’re theTEMPORARY happy/BiProducts/of Time&amp;/or DNA/Don’t Hold yourBreath4either/ifUmust holdAir/takeGarys.” And there are not enough HELL YEAHS in the world.</p><p>Fisher is a cool, smart, hilarious, and not that it should matter, but beautiful to boot 59 year-old woman. If you’re ticked off that she’s not the same beautiful woman she was nearly forty years ago — and as evidence that some people really are, she retweeted a “Star Wars” fan’s comment that “YOU DIDNT AGE WELL AND U SUCKED IN STAR WARS. IT WAS A REST HOME FLICK. WANT MY MONEY BACK” — that’s the fault of your own tiny and totally unrealistic expectations about what time does to humans. Maybe you’d be better off sticking with action figures?</p><p>Our culture allows gray hair and lines to be viewed as evidence of sexy maturity in men, but treats them as signs of diminished all around viability in women. And when a woman — especially one who makes her living in the public eye — pipes up and says, yeah, I’m not playing along with this, it’s viewed as a shocking act, a downright betrayal of her fans. But Carrie Fisher, a woman who endured much in her life and has zero f_cks left to give, doesn’t care. She understands that to grow older is a luxury that not everybody gets. Though she asks that we not debate whether she’s aged well, the fact is, there’s nothing to debate. And there is no better version of Carrie Fisher than the smart, outspoken lady of right now.</p><p> </p> Wed, 30 Dec 2015 12:48:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1048183 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender Carrie Fisher ageism STAR WARS Tina Fey Has No F**ks Left to Give — and Owes Zero Apologies for a Brilliant 'Saturday Night Live'' http://twww.alternet.org/culture/tina-fey-has-no-fks-left-give-and-owes-zero-apologies-brilliant-saturday-night-live <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Too far? With an edgy, smart sketch about how men marry younger second wives? Shut up and sit down, Internet.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1358022239665-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>God, I love you, Internet. You are nothing if not fearlessly reliable. Just days after Tina Fey spoke with Net-A-Porter about how she was “opting out” of the public’s seemingly inexhaustible need to take umbrage, she finds herself the subject of criticism regarding whether she and bestie Amy Poehler went “too far” on their weekend “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig. You can decide for yourself whether they did, but I strongly recommend you not hold your breath waiting for Fey to say sorry.</p><p>Fey has had a bang-up 2015. In January, she and Poehler co-hosted the Golden Globes — and fearlessly <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/12/dont_call_it_the_feminist_golden_globes/" target="_blank">tossed off a few Bill Cosby</a> jokes along the way. In March, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the Netflix sitcom she co-created with Robert Carlock, became became the must-binge hit of the spring. Frankly, if all she’d given us this year was the “white spiders” line in the memorable “Inside Amy Schumer” <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/05/03/15_feminist_amy_schumer_sketches_that_will_make_you_stand_up_and_cheer/" target="_blank">“Last F__kable Day”</a> sketch, Fey could have packed it up. And though her <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/20/if_sisters_is_a_chick_flick_so_is_the_new_star_wars_stop_believing_there_are_movies_men_wont_get/">new comedy “Sisters”</a> has received only tepid reviews, it still pulled in a respectable $13.4 million on its opening weekend — not bad when apparently <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/18/dear_star_wars_fans_im_super_sorry_i_ruined_the_whole_thing_for_everybody/" target="_blank">some other movie about outer space or something</a> also opened.</p><p>But her year has not been without controversy. Since it premiered, some critics have questioned “Kimmy Schmidt’s” approach to race — including <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/03/26/395127808/why-its-so-hard-for-us-to-agree-about-dong-from-the-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt" target="_blank">a sweetly naive Asian character named Dong</a> and a plot turn that revealed the blonde socialite played by Jane Krakowski was in fact a Native American woman passing for white. Was it satire, or stereotyping? Writing in Buzzfeed in March, Ira Madison III said, “When characters aren’t authentic, you don’t relate to them — <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/the-unbreakable-kimmie-schmidt-has-a-major-race-problem#.xlML3m75j" target="_blank">they feel like caricatures/outsiders.”</a> Yet the show also featured one of the year’s most memorable subplots, in which Kimmy’s roommate Tituss realizes he’s treated better dressed as a werewolf than he is as regular his African-America self. And speaking about the show to Vulture this spring about the accusations of racial insensitivity, the show’s co-star Tituss Burgess shrugged, <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2015/03/tituss-burgess-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt.html" target="_blank">“The naysayers needed something to do and talk about,</a> so they can have a seat now.”</p><p>Then last week in Net-A-Porter, Fey herself issued a similarly resounding nope. “Steer clear of the Internet and you’ll live forever.” she said. “We did an ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ episode and the Internet was in a whirlwind, calling it ‘racist,’ but my new goal is not to explain jokes. I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. <a href="http://www.net-a-porter.com/magazine/330/18" target="_blank">There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.” </a></p><p>But while not outright demanding apology, the critics didn’t have any trouble coming up with some firm uneasiness after Fey’s most recent “SNL” episode. It was an echo of when she hosted four years ago, and BigThink’s Lindsay Beyerstein called a sketch about natural childbirth “<a href="http://bigthink.com/focal-point/did-tina-feys-natural-childbirth-spoof-go-too-far-video">an exercise in meanspirited hippie punching</a>” and asked if it went “foo far,” while The Stir observed, <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/120062/tina_fey_makes_natural_childbirth" target="_blank">“It’s no joke</a> that we, as a society, are notoriously bad at informing and teaching women about natural parenting ideals and alternatives without them seeming totally hippie dippie and weird.” This time around, a scorching sketch about a game show called “Meet Your Second Wife”— in which adult male contestants meet their current, far-too-young, future brides — drew gasps from HuffPo over whether it, too, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/snl-meet-your-second-wife_5676bcade4b0b958f6570013" target="_blank">went “too far.”</a> Entertainment writer Cole Delbyck pondered, “Did the sketch need to go that young to prove its point?” I don’t know; I’m guessing when you’re one of the most powerful women in American comedy and you’re working in an industry in which Johnny Depp is married to a woman who was one when “21 Jump Street” premiered and George Clooney’s wife was in high school when he became a star on “ER” and Han Solo is 14 years older than Leia, maybe the answer is yes.</p><p>Fey is a white woman who grew up in suburban Pennsylvania, a woman who now makes a lot of money in television and film. That’s her reality. And no, not every joke she is involved with — even peripherally — lands with utmost precision, achieving both biting social commentary and gut busting laughs. Yet she’s right to be unmoved by the constant din of Internet outrage. It can be very hard to stay true to one’s creative voice in such cacophony. Then again, if you’re like Fey, it can be very liberating. Because once you see that anything you do is going to make somebody mad, you don’t have to worry about pleasing anybody but yourself.</p><p><em>Update: A previous version of this story didn’t note the childbirth sketch was from a prior “SNL.” It has been amended.</em></p><p> </p> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 12:35:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1047853 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Gender saturday night live tina fey Carrie Fisher’s Blunt, Magical Press Tour Is Already the Best Thing About the Return of 'Star Wars' http://twww.alternet.org/culture/carrie-fishers-blunt-magical-press-tour-already-best-thing-about-return-star-wars <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Let&#039;s applaud Fisher, who reprises her iconic role as Leia, for her commentary on ageism, sexism and fandom.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/star_wars_trailer3-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="">Even if you’re someone who’s always been only “meh” about the “Star Wars” empire, the imminent release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is nonetheless cause for nonstop rejoicing. Because where’s there’s “Star Wars,” <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/10/20/star_wars_lets_princess_leia_age_realistically_is_this_an_alternate_hollywood_universe/" target="_blank">there’s Carrie Fisher.</a></p><p style="">Fisher, currently competing with the New York Daily News for the title <a href="https://twitter.com/NYDailyNews/status/673825357800341509" target="_blank">“Legendary American Institution with the Fewest F__ks to Give,”</a> has been making the media circuit to promote the forthcoming installment of the saga, and it’s damn glorious. Because Carrie Fisher — actress, memoirist, former Jenny Craig spokeswoman, self-described <a href="http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/questions-for-carrie-fisher?page=2" target="_blank">poster child for bipolar disorder</a> — is not having your nonsense.</p><p>Speaking last week with the Wall Street Journal, the woman who has famously explained that “I swear when I was shooting those films I never realized <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/01/13/carrie_fisher_jenny_craig_fat_shame/" target="_blank">I was signing an invisible contract to stay looking the exact same way</a> for the rest of my existence” nonetheless embraced her iconic identity, saying she never hesitated about returning as Leia. “I’ve been this character for 40 years, why would I not? Because I’m going to be associated with Princess Leia more? There is no ‘more.’ And I’m a female working in show business, where, if you’re famous, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/carrie-fisher-on-her-return-to-star-wars-1449088590?mod=e2fb" target="_blank">you have a career until you’re 45, maybe.</a> Maybe. And that’s about 15 people.”</p><p>And she replied to journalist Michael Calia’s observation that “There’s been some debate recently about whether there should be no more merchandise with you in the ‘Return of the Jedi’ bikini” with a terse, “I think that’s stupid.” She added, <a href="http://www.fox29.com/news/2029186-story" target="_blank">The father who flipped out about it,</a>‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.”</p><p>On Friday, she appeared in a one-of-a-kind interview on “Good Morning, America,” with her dog Gary perched in his own chair next to her. You knew it was going to be good when she started by candidly saying, “I wouldn’t be anywhere else at this hour — except on TV.” She cheerfully offered Gary’s take on the new film, saying, “He panted all the way through it; I think it was too loud. It was his first real screening.” Asked if she had to be convinced to sign on for another episode of the series, she deadpanned to Amy Robach, “They don’t have to ask you if you want to work at that age… you’ll see someday.” And when asked gently about how she “transformed” for the role, she admitted, “Yes, I did lose weight, and I think it’s a stupid conversation,” adding, “You’re so thin, let’s talk about it. How do you keep that going on? You exercise every day? And isn’t it boring?”</p><p>The thought that Fisher — whose Twitter feed is full of insights like “You know those days when things keep getting worse faster than U can lower your standards?” — likely has even more chances to play the media like a damn violin in the weeks to come is the best thing to happen to December since ugly sweater parties.</p><p>Hollywood is a different place from the one Fisher came of age in as the child of two reigning stars, and a different one from the town where she later promoted herself as a young actress. Actors, thanks to social media, regularly communicate directly with their audience. And in interviews, they’re likelier to question tired comments about <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/brie-larson-on-earning-it/" target="_blank">being an “it girl”</a>or <a href="http://www.xojane.com/issues/scarlett-understandably-bored-sexist-journos-questions">their “rabbit food” regimens</a> than a generation ago. Actresses in particular are less likely to smile blandly and put up with<a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/08/03/kate_mara_fends_off_sexist_comments_in_fantastic_four_interview_a_reminder_that_being_creepy_to_a_woman_is_not_a_compliment/" target="_blank">inane commentary about their hair length</a> or <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/02/20/why-you-wont-see-the-controversial-mani-cam-on-the-oscars-red-carpet/" target="_blank">their manicures. </a></p><p>But Fisher, with all the grandness of Hollywood royalty and all the defiance of a woman who’s been to hell and back a thousand times already, sets the bar higher than anyone. “I got in character and I’ve never gotten out again,” she told Robach on “GMA,” “and really, I’ve tried everything.” But while Leia was princess who’s become a general, Fisher is now and ever will be just one thing: a queen.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kh1t2MJDbrs" width="560"></iframe></p> Tue, 08 Dec 2015 10:54:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1047004 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Gender Video Carrie Fisher STAR WARS Jimmy Fallon’s Falls Aren’t Funny Anymore: If the Rumors Are True, He Needs Help, Not Laughs http://twww.alternet.org/culture/jimmy-fallons-falls-arent-funny-anymore-if-rumors-are-true-he-needs-help-not-laughs <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">After the latest mishap involving a bottle of Jägermeister, Fallon&#039;s legendary party lifestyle is under scrutiny.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-11-06_at_10.48.34_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>On the list of perils most working, 41-year-old fathers of two young children usually don’t have to concern themselves with, you’ll find the phrase “Jägermeister-related injuries.” But in late October, “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, in Boston to accept Harvard University’s Lampoon award, took a fall and cut his hand. He was treated briefly at Massachusetts General Hospital and soon after posted a photo with the message, <a href="http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/jimmy-fallon-hand-injury-harvard-video-1201626264/" target="_blank">“Nothing that a few band aids couldn’t fix.”</a> A Vine of the accident shows him in the midst of a crowd, taking the bottle in his hand and then going for a tumble. Variety reports he came back to the celebration after being released.</p>On his show, last week, he explained that “Somebody gets me a bottle of Jägermeister from inside and I’m out on the street. Apparently some girl was going to kneel down and give me a flower, so she knelt down, I didn’t see her and then… This hand is already gone, so I just threw the bottle and then I landed on broken glass.” By Monday, he was back in regular form, doing an <a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/865528" target="_blank">eager-to-go-viral soap opera sketch</a> with Bryan Cranston on his show.<p>Fallon has been on an unusually accident-prone run lately. In June, <a href="http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/jimmy-fallon-hand-injury-tonight-show-taping-canceled-1201529242/" target="_blank">he injured his other hand so badly</a> in a fall that NBC had to scrap the “Tonight Show” taping for the day — right before the show went on vacation hiatus. He underwent surgery and later told his TV audience, “Basically, what happened was I tripped and fell in my kitchen on a braided rug that my wife loves and I can’t wait to burn to the ground. I caught my fall and my finger went sideways. I get up and am like, ‘Did I just break my finger?’ This is the lamest thing in the whole world, it looks fake — it looks like a cheap horror movie.” He said he suffered “ring avulsion… if you Google it there are graphic images. Basically, my ring got caught on the countertop when I was going down, and it got stuck there and pulled my finger off.”</p><p>And he added, “I must say, the fall was funny. I am a comedian so I have to fall funny. <a href="https://www.thewrap.com/jimmy-fallon-opens-up-about-severe-hand-injury-it-looked-like-a-cheap-horror-movie/#sthash.Ry3864O5.dpuf" target="_blank">If it was me watching me, I would laugh.”</a></p><p>A <a href="https://instagram.com/p/4YN75nhi60/?taken-by=falpal6" target="_blank">photo reportedly from earlier that evening</a> shows him at Italian restaurant Scalinatella with fans and glasses of wine. In August, shortly after <a href="http://www.ew.com/article/2015/08/13/jimmy-fallon-extends-tonight-show-contract-6-more-years" target="_blank">extending his “Tonight Show” contract</a>, Fallon shared with fans he’d <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/21/media/jimmy-fallon-chip-tooth-injury/" target="_blank">“Chipped front tooth </a>trying to open tube of scar tissue repair gel for recovering finger injury.”</p><p>Inevitably, when a celebrity experiences that conspicuous a string a mishaps, rumors are bound to swirl. This week, the New York Post quotes a source at NBC saying concern that “Fallon’s drinking has become excessive” has <a href="http://nypost.com/2015/11/01/is-jimmy-fallons-partying-getting-out-of-hand/" target="_blank">“gone from being a whisper to a chatter.”</a> Last year, Fallon was <a href="http://gothamist.com/2014/04/13/video_jimmy_fallon_offers_shots_for.php" target="_blank">spotted dispensing shots</a> at a Chelsea bar. And back in January, a reportedly intoxicated Fallon was filmed at West Village gay bar Marie’s Crisis,<a href="http://gothamist.com/2015/01/29/watch_jimmy_fallon_sing_swing_on_to.php" target="_blank"> “knocking back shots and singing along with the crowd”</a> to the theme from “The Greatest American Hero.”</p><p>A 2014 Vulture profile of the then-new heir to the throne once held by self-professed <a href="http://nypost.com/2013/10/12/johnny-carson-was-good-at-3-things-drink-dames-and-being-a-d/" target="_blank">“drunk every night”</a> late night king Johnny Carson quotes Fallon’s former “Saturday Night Live” castmate Horatio Sanz describing them in their “SNL” days as “super-functioning alcoholics, definitely.” In the course of the story, writer Jada Yuan notes that Fallon tells her he <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/jimmy-fallon-tonight-show-interview.html" target="_blank">“still loves drinking but can’t do it as much as he used to</a>, what with his metabolism slowing down and the baby and the daily responsibilities of having a talk show” — right before downing “a hangover in a glass” a group of fans have sent over. And in the story, comic Seth Herzog adds, “Everyone in New York has a Jimmy Fallon story. It’s always like, ‘In 2000, Jimmy threw this dude out of a bar, or poured his beer on someone, or got on a table and sang a song.'”</p><p>It’s 15 years later, and based on that Marie’s Crisis footage, Fallon is still climbing on tables and singing songs. The Post reports that Fallon is seemingly aware of his reputation — the paper talks to photographer Sam Jones, who shot “Late Night’s” all male collection of hosts for Vanity Fair’s October issue. In <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/09/late-night-tv-colbert-fallon-kimmel" target="_blank">the image</a>, Fallon’s the only one not holding a drink. (James Corden is abstemiously holding a juice box.) Jones says Fallon told him, “I don’t want to have a drink in the picture.” A official source from NBC would only tell the Post, “Jimmy Fallon is a highly valued member of the NBC family who is both a tireless worker and an extraordinarily gifted performer.” A local bartender says, “He’s a mess,” adding, “I love him.”</p><p>What’s going on in Fallon’s accident-prone but still private life is still a matter of speculation. But if it turns out he needs help, it likely won’t affect his popularity. In March, “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm finished 30 days in rehab, and issued a statement that “Life throws a lot at you sometimes and <a href="http://www.tvweeklogieawards.com.au/news/articles/2015/3/jon-hamm-breaks-his-silence-on-rehab-stint/" target="_blank">you have to deal with it as much as you can.”</a> Over the summer, John Stamos entered rehab following a DUI arrest, and by September, he was promoting his new sitcom and telling the press, “I took advantage of the time and <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-john-stamos-rehab-today-show-grandfathered-20150928-story.html" target="_blank">I made a choice, and I’m just so grateful that I did.” </a>The public is kind to genial, well-liked middle-aged male stars, kinder than it is to most. It laughs off their escapades when they fall down. But more than that, it roots hard for them to get back up.</p><p> </p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 07:29:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1045353 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Civil Liberties Culture fallon media Stop Cheering for the Old 'Hands Off My Daughter!' Shtick http://twww.alternet.org/gender/stop-cheering-old-hands-my-daughter-shtick <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The media&#039;s reaction to a viral &#039;whatever you do to my daughter, I do to you&#039; photo shows how little we value girls. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/schock_photo.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Who wants to break it to dads that their teenage daughters are not their property? Who wants to tell them that joking about them like they are is just weird? But more than that, who wants to tell the members of the media who perpetuate that old joke just how tired it really is?</p><p>Bangor, Wisconsin father Benjamin Schock seems like a good-natured guy who can appreciate the humor in the whole Papa Bear routine. And his wife, photographer Sharee Schock, also tells Buzzfeed that “her family is focused on having fun and being positive, especially since her husband is currently battling multiple brain tumors.” I hope that the whole family has as much fun and laughter in their lives as possible right now, and that they have many more happy memories to come. I also get that not every moment of joshing around is an act of oppression by the patriarchy. So when the Schock’s 15-year-old daughter Ricarra posed with her date for photos before the homecoming dance earlier this month — and then Benjamin stepped in for a similar image, standing with his arms clasped around the boy for a shot captioned, “Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you” — of course it was all in fun.</p><p>Sharee Schock explains to Buzzfeed that “My husband had mentioned previously in humor that <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemcneal/im-watching-you-buddy#.kmaVBElQ2" target="_blank">he would do to the boyfriend whatever was done to our daughter.</a> So he jumped in the picture and they posed for the picture.” She adds, “My husband is a big-hearted teddy bear, so it was his way of being silly with a pinch of ‘I’m watching you, buddy…. We hope that above anything else this pictures shows the love and protective nature of a dad with his little girl, but in a playful and not-so intimidating manner.” Schock recently put the photo on her photography business page on Facebook, calling it the “Funniest moment of Homecoming.” That’s when it took off like crazy — it’s been shared over two thousand times on Facebook, and racked up nearly three million views on Imgur.</p><p>And see, once you get past a million shares on something like this, I’m going to step in to play Humorless Feminist Mom to the Hands Off My Daughter Industrial Complex. Because I have a 15 year-old daughter, too. And when Buzzfeed runs a story like this above the invitation, “Want great parenting tips in your inbox twice a week?” I question whether this constitutes “great parenting tips.” When Fox LA reports, <a href="http://www.foxla.com/news/share-this/35507941-story" target="_blank">“Dads will be dads!</a>A hilarious photo shows a dad posing with his daughter’s homecoming date before the teens went to a homecoming dance in Wisconsin,” I think that merits some skepticism over whether that’s just “Dads being dads.” And when Seventeen approvingly reports on this as a tale of <a href="http://www.seventeen.com/life/friends-family/news/a34892/whatever-you-do-to-my-daughter-i-will-do-to-you/" target="_blank">“Dad for the win,”</a> I’m sorry but now I’m going to have to blow a gasket.</p><p>What one family does in the spirit of kidding around is, in context, no big deal. But a media endorsement — especially media aimed at teenage girls — of the notion that adolescent female sexuality is something to be guarded by daddy from outside invaders is actually creepy and gross. It suggests that this isn’t about the Schocks any more — it’s about “dads being dads,” and isn’t it cute when a father steps in to police a girl’s private life? Isn’t what goes on with the person a girl dates just a story of what one male does — or tries to do — to another male’s property? Aaaand now we’re getting very territorial and messed up. I’m sorry, does a girl get a vote in what happens in her romantic life? It’s called agency. It’s called bodily autonomy. Live it, learn it!</p><p>The <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OverprotectiveDad" target="_blank">Overprotective Dad trope</a>is a timeless punchline. Dads are supposed to protect and love their children. They are also supposed to raise them so they can grow into adults who make their own decisions. But when we talk about “what you do to my daughter,” it implies that what happens in dating is something that is done to girls, who are mere passive recipients. It depicts boys as inherently predatory — and even if it’s in a jokey way, that’s insulting to them too. And that’s not really how it works, or certainly not how it should, if we’re raising both our sons and daughters to take ownership of their choices and actions. It’s definitely not something that merits widespread, legitimizing approval. And when one family’s offhand joke becomes a viral reinforcement of the old message that a girls’ sexuality is somehow a negotiation between her father and her boyfriend, it’s just not so funny any more.</p><div style="text-align:center"><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=281&amp;width=480&amp;height=401&amp;playList=517710457"></script></div> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 08:28:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1044525 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender Video fatherhood parenting daughter women girls 'Star Wars' Lets Princess Leia Age Realistically: Is This an Alternate Hollywood Universe? http://twww.alternet.org/gender/star-wars-lets-princess-leia-age-realistically-alternate-hollywood-universe <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Carrie Fisher&#039;s older and wiser character tells us maybe we&#039;re ready to let actresses age.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/star_wars_trailer3-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The most breathtaking moment in the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer doesn’t involve explosions or lightsabers or ominous references to the Dark Side. It’s an eyeblink-long shot of Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, in the embrace of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. It’s a moment of a weary-looking woman with graying hair and lines on her face. Holy science fiction, Hollywood — somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, a grown woman has been given permission to look like a grown woman. I want to go to that planet!</p><p>Fisher, who turns 59 this week, has for years been a sardonic and brutally honest chronicler of her own struggles with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/12/carrie-fisher-cocaine-star-wars" target="_blank">addiction</a>, bipolar disorder (including <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2013/02/carrie-fisher-hospitalized-after-bipolar-incident/" target="_blank">a hospitalization just two years ago</a>), and weight — all while working in an industry that isn’t known for being easy on even seemingly perfect women. A few years ago, when the vicious cracks about Fisher resembling Jabba the Hut (actual sexist BS trolling entertainment story) were hitting peak cruelty, she became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig.</p><p>But even as <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20542731,00.html" target="_blank">she dropped fifty pounds</a> — and seemed to hint at some other changes when she said of her fellow “Star Wars” cast members that <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/may/25/star-wars-original-cast-little-melted-episode-vii-carrie-fisher" target="_blank">“We all look a little melted. It’s good to see other melted people”</a>— she’s maintained her sense of humor and realism. As she observed a few years ago, “I swear when I was shooting those films I never realized I was signing <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/01/13/carrie_fisher_jenny_craig_fat_shame/" target="_blank">an invisible contract to stay looking the exact same way for the rest of my existence.”</a></p><p>In an April interview, she reiterated the sentiment, saying of her early sex symbol image, <a href="https://youtu.be/wuW7vNrgT_g" target="_blank">“I didn’t like that, because you have to live up to something there.”</a> And in an interview with Palm Beach Illustrated, she jokingly replied to a question of what Leia would be like now by tartly saying, <a href="http://www.palmbeachillustrated.com/CarrieFisher" target="_blank">“Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home.</a> I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.”</p><p>Of course, this is still the entertainment industry — the one in which <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/09/04/at_32_anne_hathaway_is_already_losing_roles_to_younger_actresses/" target="_blank">Anne Hathaway is already losing roles to younger women</a> — and it comes with its inherent inevitable pressures. Speaking about the new “Star Wars,” Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, confessed to reporters last year that her daughter had <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/star-wars-star-carrie-fisher-shows-off-35/story?id=23739240" target="_blank">“worked her body off for one year to not have a body,”</a> and Fisher confirmed, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2629382/Carrie-Fisher-shows-svelte-figure-40-lbs-weight-loss-steps-youthful-looking-mother-Debbie-Reynolds-82.html" target="_blank">“They didn’t hire <em>me</em>, they hired me minus 35 pounds.”</a>And when a colleague remarked this week how wonderful it was to see the new trailer showing the actress with her costar as “an age-appropriate-looking couple,” I couldn’t help recalling that Harrison Ford is fifteen years older than Fisher.</p><p>But in a business — and God knows, in particular a genre — in which women are all but invisible and women who are over thirty are practically unheard of, the sight of an older, softer Leia is cause for cheering. Gone are the cinnamon buns over her ears. Gone is the gold bikini. And yet she’s still here, still a character worth rooting for. Who needs special effects when you’ve got her? Last year, Fisher joked of her younger costars, “The new actors are great. I go: ‘Just you wait till you get a fanbase that’s going to follow you around for forty years.'” But she added, <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/star-wars-7s-carrie-fisher-am-princess-leia-125307610.html#XtH8QcA" target="_blank">“I am Leia and Leia is me.”</a></p><p>Leia, just like the woman who plays her, is indeed now forty years older. That she endures is a triumph of survival, in Hollywood as it is in space, and it’s proof that both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia are forces to be reckoned with.</p><p> </p> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 06:33:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1044454 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender Carrie Fisher hollywood STAR WARS Princess Leia women age gender Why Hedge Funder's Price-Gouging Pill Scandal Is Even Worse Than You Might Think http://twww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-hedge-funders-price-gouging-pill-scandal-even-worse-you-might-think <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> Raising the price of a drug 5000 percent has serious ramifications beyond gouging people&#039;s wallets.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/martin_shkreli2-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>“Martin Shkreli is the Donald Trump of drug development,” my friend Frank tells me. “He’s a hedge fund manager who gives hedge fund managers a bad name.”</p><p>Frank — a chief scientific officer at a biotech company (and whose name has been changed to protect his and his family’s privacy) — is talking to me Tuesday morning, en route to a series of meetings at <a href="http://www.mdanderson.org/" target="_blank">MD Anderson</a>, about the controversial 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and the company’s recent headline-making decision to raise the price of toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 — an increase of 5,455 percent. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html" target="_blank">A New York Times story</a> earlier this week by Andrew Pollack on Turing — which acquired Daraprim just last month — quickly drew <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/09/21/twitter_shreds_drug_profiteer_martin_shkreli_for_increasing_cost_of_common_treatment_of_parasitic_infections_by_5455_percent/" target="_blank">horrified reactions on social media</a>, including a response from Hillary Clinton, who said,<a href="https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/645974772275408896" target="_blank">“Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous.</a>Tomorrow I’ll lay out a plan to take it on.”</p><p>Earlier this month, the Infectious Diseases Society of America sent Turing a letter saying, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified toxoplasmosis as one of five neglected parasitic diseases targeted for public health action because of the number of people infected, the severity of the illness and the ability for the condition to be treated,” and adding, <a href="http://www.hivma.org/uploadedFiles/HIVMA/HomePageContent/PyrimethamineLetterFINAL.pdf" target="_blank">“This cost is unjustifiable</a> for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system.”</p><p>Speaking with CBS News Monday, Shkreli, whose former company <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/arleneweintraub/2015/08/18/retrophin-sues-founder-martin-shkreli-for-65m-his-reply-preposterous/" target="_blank">ousted and then sued him</a> for $65 million and whose Twitter feed certainly is chock-full of <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/these-37-tweets-show-how-the-pharma-ceo-gouging-aids-patients-is-even-worse-than-you-think/" target="_blank">proud displays of his apparent wealth</a> — defended the move, saying that “The drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money. At this price it’s a reasonable profit. <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/turing-pharmaceuticals-ceo-martin-shkreli-defends-5000-percent-price-hike-on-daraprim-drug/" target="_blank">Not excessive at all</a>…. And with these new profits we can spend all of that upside on these patients who sorely need a new drug, in my opinion.”</p><p>Neither my pal Frank nor I is unsympathetic to the drug industry, or unbiased about it. He makes his living in the development of medicines, and I owe my life to them. Four years ago, facing a rapidly fatal form of cancer, I entered <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/11/24/my_life_as_a_lab_rat/" target="_blank">the first cohort of a Phase 1 Bristol Meyers Squibb clinical trial</a> that saved my life. (Because it was a trial, BMS paid for the treatment.) From our unique perches, Frank and I have seen firsthand the years of effort and disappointment that go into research and development of potentially lifesaving drugs. So if you’re the sort of person who likes to say the pharmaceutical industry is just plain evil, I’ll be over here with my friend who’s dedicated his life to science, and enjoying my healthy, vaccinated children and my not being dead of cancer. And I mention this because when people like Frank and I stand here agape at what Martin Shkreli and Turing are doing, we are watching this fiasco from the perspective of two people who are all for the business of medicine.</p><p>As Frank explains it, “I’m not a pricing expert. When I first entered the business I thought a bunch of guys would sit around in a room and whoever could say the highest number without giggling would set the price.” But Shkreli, he says, “This is a guy who genuinely doesn’t give a s__t.”</p><p>My doctors started research on what would eventually become my own drug combination — Yervoy and Nivolumab — back in the ’90s. That work does not come cheap. Earlier this year, doctors from my hospital spoke at American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting about the “unsustainable” cost of of treatment, noting my own drug regimen now runs <a href="https://am.asco.org/asco-plenary-nivolumab-ipilimumab-combination-effective-advanced-melanoma" target="_blank">“approximately 4,000 times the cost of gold.”</a></p><p>As Frank puts it, “It’s really expensive to develop drugs. It’s complex and highly regulated. Almost nothing we do in the industry works. Even if projects enter clinic, 95 percent of them fail in clinical trials. Drugs aren’t necessarily expensive because we’re greedy; they’re expensive because we’re fighting with one hand behind our backs. It’s hard enough to make a drug that cures a mouse, let alone a human. The costs of all those failures have to ride on the backs of those drugs that are successful.”</p><p>But what Frank says Shkreli is doing is different. “I strongly suspect what he did was even skeevier than you think,” Frank says. “It’s a kind of evil genius. I can buy a drug [like Daraprim] that should be generic, except the price is so low no one wants to compete with it. N<span class="s1">ow I put it on a marketing plan that is <a href="http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2015/09/21/martin-shkreli-has-one-idea-and-its-a-bad-one" target="_blank">closed distribution</a>. </span>Then I raise the price 5,000 percent. That’s what prevents anyone from jumping in, by throwing up a pretty big roadblock in their path. In one sense it may be legal, but it’s not right.”</p><p>I get it that medicine isn’t free. But Frank says, “The thing that’s infuriating is that this is exactly what people say about my industry that leads to them doing things like not vaccinating their children. But I work in an industry that is mostly driven by geeks and nerds. Hell, I wish I made as much money as a hedge fund manager. The challenge of capitalism is that there will always be people who place profit motive above ethical concerns. It’s unconscionable. Reprehensible. You can’t get me to say enough bad things about it.”</p><div style="text-align:center"><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=281&amp;width=480&amp;height=401&amp;playList=519096896"></script></div> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 13:50:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1042848 at http://twww.alternet.org News & Politics Economy News & Politics Personal Health Video Martin Shkreli drug price gouging medicine profit drug industry Turing Confederate Flag’s Meaning a Total Mystery to These Southern Teens Fighting to Fly It http://twww.alternet.org/culture/confederate-flags-meaning-total-mystery-these-southern-teens-fighting-fly-it <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A high school in Virginia banned the confederate flag from school grounds, but the students were having none of it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-09-18_at_3.51.55_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>And they say kids these days are too apathetic. They say they aren’t willing to take a stand. Well, I guess the students of Virginia’s Christiansburg High School have proved that wrong. This week more than two dozen students boldly defied their school dress code in protest of the policy, and most earned suspensions for it. Such passion. Such integrit… oh wait. This was about the right to display their Confederate flag gear. Never mind.</p><p>Montgomery County Public Schools Spokeswoman Brenda Drake told a local NBC News affiliate that the school originally banned students from wearing the symbol after “a year’s worth of fights that occurred from 2001 to 2002.” Drake said, “The fights were racially charged and racially motivated, and <a href="http://wspa.com/2015/09/18/high-schoolers-suspended-for-wearing-clothing-with-confederate-flag-say-they-will-continue-to-show-off-symbol/" target="_blank">the Confederate flag was used as a symbol of intimidation in that specific case.”</a> She added that “smaller” incidents persisted for years and that “Continued racial friction suggests that lifting the ban of this particular symbol would cause significant disruption at the school.”</p><p>So this year, the school also implemented a ban on Confederate flags or <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/confederate-flag-furor/christiansburg-virginia-students-suspended-after-wearing-confederate-flags-disrupting-school-n429456" target="_blank">“decals with the Confederate iconography”</a> from student cars. Students who wish to park in the school parking lot are now required to sign a written agreement they won’t display the flag.</p><p>Oh no, but FREEDOM! How can this horrible suppression be happening in AMERICA? As Fox reports, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/18/20-students-at-virginia-high-school-suspended-for-wearing-clothing-displaying/" target="_blank">“Their First Amendment rights were violated.”</a></p><p>“They’re trying to get rid of it, and they’re not trying to get rid of any other flags,” student Forrest Taylor told NBC affiliate WSLS. <a href="http://wsls.com/2015/09/17/christiansburg-high-school-students-suspended-for-wearing-confederate-flag/" target="_blank">“They say that it’s a racist thing even though it’s not.”</a> Classmate Hannah Smith agreed, saying, “It’s not racist, I can tell you that right now. My brother left this world a few months ago, and he told me it doesn’t matter what people say, keep that flag flying for me.” Students vow they will keep wearing the symbol <a href="http://wsls.com/2015/09/17/christiansburg-high-school-students-suspended-for-wearing-confederate-flag/" target="_blank">“for the foreseeable future.”</a></p><p>Christiansburg High wasn’t the only site of a dispute over the flag this week either — in Jacksonville, Baldwin Middle and Senior High School found itself embroiled in a similar dispute after school officials told student John Moncrief to remove the flag from his truck. News 4 Jax reports that “more students came back the next day with more flags to show support.” Student John Hargrove told reporter Jim Piggott that he was likewise told to remove his flag, and that <a href="http://www.news4jax.com/news/confederate-flag-controversy-hits-high-school/35330642" target="_blank">“I mean, it kind of offended me because that’s my heritage. I support the South. </a>I don’t see why that’s a problem.” Oh God, stopppppp. </p><p>Anecdotally, all of the students interviewed on camera are white.</p><p>High school students who love their Confederate flags, who feel “offended” about some imagined insult to their “heritage,” may I make a suggestion? It’s called Google. Maybe you could read about Dylann Roof, the confessed killer of nine African American church-goers in Charleston earlier this year, and <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/06/19/3671684/charleston-shooting-confederate-flag/" target="_blank">his fondness for the flag.</a>Maybe you could read Tom McKay’s fine Mic piece of June, in which he explained the ideology of the flag’s designer, William Thompson, who believed it would <a href="http://mic.com/articles/121082/here-s-the-racist-meaning-of-the-confederate-flag-in-the-words-of-the-man-who-designed-it" target="_blank">“be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.”</a></p><p>Or do an image search with the terms<a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122216/confederate-flag-still-flying-today-because-kkk" target="_blank"> “Confederate flag KKK.” </a>It’s extensive. I hope maybe then you’ll reconsider the “It’s not racist” argument. Because it totally is.</p><p>You can have pride in where you come from without perpetuating symbolism that is threatening and hateful. And these kids should know that. They should be learning that, and if they’re not, that’s a problem. It’s not sufficient for their schools to ban the Confederate flag, or to suspend those students who still flaunt it. They have to teach them why.</p><p> </p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 12:38:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1042638 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture confederate flag racism culture south No GoFundMe For Kim Davis: Crowdfunding Puts the Brakes On the Disturbing Bigots-Get-Rich-Quick Trend http://twww.alternet.org/culture/no-gofundme-kim-davis-crowdfunding-puts-brakes-disturbing-bigots-get-rich-quick-trend <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If the plan was to fundraise, more platforms aren&#039;t going to play along.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/kim_davis.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s a narrative so familiar by now that we can all recite the script. As Sarah Thyre laid it out Thursday: “1. Jail 2. Book deal/Fox News guest 3. jillion dollar @gofundme page w/donations from <a href="https://twitter.com/SarahThyre/status/639491291277975552" target="_blank">fellow bigots</a>.” And with the developments this week in the case of Kim Davis, who was indeed jailed not for being a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/09/04/no_christians_youre_not_being_persecuted_and_kim_davis_is_not_a_martyr/" target="_blank">Christian</a> but for being in contempt of court, many presumed this was the jackpot the $80,000-a-year-salaried Kentucky county clerk was headed toward. But not so fast, partner.</p><p>As US News reported Thursday, “ACLU attorney Heather Weaver, who is working on the case, said there was testimony about fundraising efforts on <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/03/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-jailed-for-contempt" target="_blank">Davis’ behalf,</a> apparently a factor in the judge’s decision not to impose financial penalties.” And DailyKos noted that “Plaintiffs in the case had asked [District Court Judge David] Bunning to fine Davis, but they specifically requested that he not jail her. <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/09/03/1418110/-Possibility-of-crowd-funding-is-what-jailed-Kim-Davis" target="_blank">Bunning</a>, though, said fines would not work because others might raise money to pay the penalty on her behalf.”</p><p>More speculatively but no less credibly, the fabulous tweets of @nexttokimdavis observed, “When #KimDavis gets out of jail, you all will move on, but she’s going to be F__KING RICH AND <a href="https://twitter.com/nexttokimdavis/status/639799108606103552" target="_blank">WORSE</a>.”</p><p>The expectation that part of the Davis strategy included playing the victim card and letting the donations roll in has been a real and present aspect of the case. But crowdfunding has come under deeper scrutiny lately. Earlier this year, the <a href="http://nonprofitquarterly.org/2015/07/02/the-feds-take-action-against-crowdfunding-fraud-and-its-about-time/" target="_blank">FTC</a> began taking a closer look at platforms like Kickstarter. This summer, Baltimore homeowner Julie Baker’s campaign to fight back against an alleged homophobic neighbor via a “relentlessly gay” display raised $43,500 in a few days — and <a href="http://www.queerty.com/is-the-43000-relentlessly-gay-gofundme-story-a-hoax-20150630" target="_blank">serious questions</a> about whether the whole thing was a hoax.</p><p>But perhaps most relevant to Davis and her acolytes, back in the spring <a href="http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/gofundme_cancels_sweet_cakes_by_melissa_fundraising_campaign_bakers_blame_satan" target="_blank">GoFundMe</a> canceled a fundraising campaign for Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who’d recently been fined $135,000 for refusing to accommodate a wedding cake request for a gay couple. In a statement, GoFundMe explained, “After careful review by our team, we have found the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal…. The subjects of the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”</p><p>Naturally, the duo’s supporters<a href="http://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2015/05/67368-supporters-of-sweet-cakes-by-melissa-launch-continue-to-give-campaign-following-gofundme-rejection/" target="_blank"> found another site</a> to raise money and the Kleins have been raking it in ever since. But the irritated proprietors of Sweet Cakes were nonetheless so appalled by GoFundMe’s rejection that they declared on their Facebook page that “Satan’s really at work.” Since the spring, GoFundMe policy has specifically stated that “GoFundMe will not allow campaigns that benefit individuals or groups facing formal charges or claims of serious <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/blog/2015/04/29/protecting-our-community/" target="_blank">violations of the law</a>.” As AddictingInfo’s Jameson Parker put it this week, maybe “<a href="http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/09/03/sorry-kim-davis-gofundmes-new-policy-prevents-conservatives-from-raising-money-for-you/" target="_blank">watching</a> several high-profile conservative faux-victims become millionaires by exploiting their site” just started to seem not like a great strategy.</p><p>But as the Davis case unfolds, others, meanwhile, have certainly been eager to turn her into a gravy train — Mike Huckabee is vowing an “#ImWithKim Liberty Rally” on Tuesday, and you can find out about it right next to the “donate” button on his presidential campaign button. The irrelevant National Organization for Marriage has likewise issued a plea for “a massive mobilization of the grassroots and a ferocious public relations and advertising campaign” — and an invitation to “raise $100,000 by Labor Day.”</p><p>Of course, Davis and her supporters are free to find other means of shaking the tree, and if she winds up getting a book deal or reality show out of this fiasco, let’s not be shocked. Disgusted, sure, but not shocked. But while Davis may yet turn a profit from her determination not to do her job, good for sites like GoFundMe for taking a stand and saying they don’t want to be any part of making her rich.</p><p> </p> Sun, 06 Sep 2015 12:45:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1041993 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Kim Davis No, Christians, You’re Not Being “Persecuted” — and Kim Davis Is Not a Martyr http://twww.alternet.org/no-christians-youre-not-being-persecuted-and-kim-davis-not-martyr <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Conservatives are insulting us all by saying she was jailed for #BeingChristian.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-09-04_at_11.41.06_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>My fellow Christians, we are living in dark times. We are now being LOCKED UP by a MALICIOUS judicial system that is denying us our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS to RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.</p><p>Just kidding. We’re totally fine. And anyone who says otherwise is a great big crybaby.</p><p>When U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis jailed in contempt of court Thursday, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/09/03/twitter_conservatives_lose_it_after_kim_davis_is_jailed_the_federal_governments_incarceration_of_christians_has_begun/" target="_blank">her martyrdom appeared complete. </a>Liberty Counsel, the organization “dedicated to advancing religious freedom” that has been representing her, swiftly tweeted that “<a href="https://twitter.com/libertycounsel/status/639491036822286336%20t" target="_blank">#KimDavis jailed for the crime of #BeingChristian #persecution in #America #Jesus,” </a>while Mike Huckabee similarly noted that “Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about <a href="https://twitter.com/GovMikeHuckabee/status/639488249958805504" target="_blank">the criminalization of Christianity in this country. </a>We must defend #ReligiousLiberty!”</p><p>Reliably absurd homophobe Bryan Fischer, meanwhile, took to the airwaves to fret that <a href="http://www.advocate.com/marriage-equality/2015/09/03/mike-huckabee-urges-free-kim-davis-others-call-her-rosa-parks" target="_blank">“Every advance of the homosexual agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty,”</a> and Fox’s Todd Starnes lamented that “So our government allows illegals aliens to roam our streets but incarcerates <a href="https://twitter.com/toddstarnes/status/639589185620414464" target="_blank">a good-hearted Christian lady? </a>#ImWithKim.”</p><p>And Davis attorney Roger Gannam issued a statement that “Today, for the first time in history, an American citizen has been<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/04/us/kim-davis-same-sex-marriage.html" target="_blank"> incarcerated for having the belief of conscience</a> that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. And she’s been ordered to stay there until she’s willing to change her mind, until she’s willing to change her conscience about what belief is.”</p><p>It’s a familiar refrain, this sob story that letting other people exercise their constitutional rights is an assault on their religious freedom. Last month, when actress Ellen Page confronted GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz at a state fair, Cruz asserted, “At the end of the day, what we should not be doing is<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/21/politics/ted-cruz-ellen-page-lgbt-iowa-state-fair/" target="_blank"> persecuting people who follow their faith.” </a></p><p>It would helpful to remember here that Davis is not being “punished” for her beliefs. Davis was found in contempt for refusing to abide by a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. She is being appropriately dealt with for not doing the taxpayer-funded job the citizens of Rowan County elected her to do, for not upholding the Constitution she took an oath to abide by. I know that lots of Christians are used to cherry picking their Bible verses to make their points, but you’re not allowed to be quite so selective with the Constitution. Certainly not if you’re someone whose job involves issuing marriage licenses.</p><p>And as a Catholic, I can quite honestly report that I have yet to be persecuted for my religious beliefs. I get a fair amount of pushback from secular friends who think I’m delusional, and conservatives who say I’m not a real Christian because I support reproductive choice and marriage equality, but I’ll say this — I am not writing these words from a jail cell. You know why? Because American Christians are not being persecuted. And considering that there are places in the world where Christians<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/magazine/is-this-the-end-of-christianity-in-the-middle-east.html" target="_blank"> really are, </a>this boo hoo hooing from people who are astonished that they’re not being given a free pass to discriminate against gay people is pretty damn enraging.</p><p>We Christians in America have it so easy. And for the privilege of being able to live in a free country and practice our faith, all we have to do is accept that our fellow Americans have a right to practice theirs — or not practice any at all! All we have to do is abide by the Constitution.</p><p>Kim Davis is not in jail for her beliefs. No one would give a toss about her beliefs had she not in a wrongful and prejudicial way inflicted them on the couples who reasonably came to her office to obtain what they are entitled to — a marriage license. She is in jail because she didn’t do her job. That’s not persecution. That’s justice.</p><p> </p> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 11:40:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1041932 at http://twww.alternet.org christians Kim Davis The Ashley Madison Hack Is a Disgrace http://twww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ashley-madison-hack-disgrace <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Enjoy the schadenfreude and gossip, if you must -- it&#039;s still powered by a despicable vigilante act.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/91db1c83e99aa85ad5990c95437bd7fc636afc32.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In the cesspool story of the Ashley Madison meltdown, you won’t find too many characters worth rooting for. That’s pretty much the reason people are going ape over it, right? But when hackers made good this week on <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/07/20/even_cheating_dirtbags_deserve_privacy_the_ashley_madison_hack_shows_weve_reached_peak_sex_shaming/" target="_blank">the threat they made in July</a> to expose the infidelity-based dating site’s subscriber information, eager dirt diggers promptly hit the jackpot with the discovery of not one but two accounts apparently belonging to one Mr. Josh Duggar. So! Much! Schadenfreude! But as gross and loathsome as this whole thing is, what if we didn’t add to the grossness and loathsomeness of it? What if we didn’t operate on a moral flatline, in which private morals and genuine crimes are not all up for the same degree of lip-smacking glee?</p><p>Let’s take a moment to deconstruct the information. On the spectrum of individuals whose glass houses seem ripe for some good old-fashioned stone throwing, Josh Duggar’s got to be near the top of the list. He’s the eldest child of the famously Jesus-loving,<a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/05/22/audio_lets_revisit_what_michelle_duggar_said_about_lgbt_people_being_child_predators/" target="_blank">transphobic</a>Duggar clan, and until recently <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/05/22/3661999/frc-josh-duggar/" target="_blank">the executive director of FRC Action</a>, the political arm of the notoriously anti gay Family Research Council. This is a guy who has <a href="http://www.etonline.com/news/155163_inside_19_kids_and_counting_son_josh_duggar_s_secret_life_as_conservative_lobbyist/" target="_blank">professionally worked</a> against gay and lesbian people, against reproductive choice, all from the cushy perch of reality TV recognition. He’s also a man who earlier this year was revealed to have admitting to have <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/06/04/what_about_the_duggar_girls_michelle_and_jim_bobs_dark_time_all_but_ignores_their_daughters/" target="_blank">“forcibly touched at least five girls”</a> — including his sisters — when he was a teenager.  For it to turn out that such a man also allegedly paid nearly a thousand bucks over the course of over two years for an account on a site for cheaters is pretty damn rich. His credibility as a judge of other people’s morality is forever destroyed, and that’s fine.</p><p>To be clear, the current gloating over Josh Duggar’s apparent penchant for a little something on the side is not equivalent to <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/07/17/gawker_drags_media_coverage_to_a_new_low_outing_an_executive_just_because_they_can/" target="_blank">Gawker’s notorious outing last month</a> of a married Conde Nast executive whose attempt to procure a gay escort became fodder for a humiliating — and then controversially retracted — story. At the time, now-departed Gawker editor Max Read boasted that “Given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies fucking around on their wives” — a publishing standard that seems questionable at best. The executive, unlike Duggar, was not a public figure. He certainly never, like Duggar, had the impressive record of both sexual abuse and hypocritical political lobbying.</p><p>But you know, this also isn’t a case of <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/06/10/anthony_weiner_harassment/" target="_blank">an embarrassingly misdirected sexual invitation</a> being inadvertently released, a la Anthony Weiner. It’s not a sex partner coming forward. It’s still private information, including the street where Duggar and his family own a home, that was obtained by a group of vigilantes. Yet now ostensibly legitimate news organizations are poring over the trove of information from the hack, analyzing, for instance, how many Ashley Madison accounts came from military and government addresses. On Thursday, an Australian radio show told a curious caller live on the air that<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/aug/20/radio-hosts-tell-woman-live-on-air-her-husband-had-ashley-madison-account" target="_blank">her husband was a member.</a>And the New York Post has dutifully reported that “Locally, 27 people used email addresses registered to the Department of Education, and three each from the Fire Department and Parks Department.”</p><p>This is where the fallout becomes repulsive. Because I don’t care if my local urban park ranger is cheating on his wife. It’s none of my business. I do care that a group of hackers has now done their dirty work for a bunch of tabloids, who are using the detailed personal information they obtained to wreak havoc in an yet untold number of lives. I do care that in just the span of the post 9/11 era, we’ve come to take it for granted that any number of forces — the government, or a shadowy group calling itself Impact Team that has an ax to grind against Ashley Madison — can just rummage through our most intimate data. I care that we’re somehow encouraged to participate in the shaming of those who morally transgress, to delight in their exposure, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/08/19/why_the_ashley_madison_hack_should_have_everyone_yes_everyone_worried/" target="_blank">however that exposure was obtained.</a>And I care that based on prior history, when we declare open season, that’s when everything is up for grabs. As other recent hacks have revealed, it’s <em>all</em> fodder. <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/09/02/dont_look_at_the_leaked_nudes/" target="_blank">Private photographs.</a><a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/04/about-that-amy-pascal-shopping-list.html" target="_blank">The contents of an Amazon order.  </a>Let’s just point and judge it all!</p><p>Josh Duggar won’t get a whole lot of sympathy from me. But when I saw Thursday a headline describing the latest news as “yet another sex scandal,” I did consider that there’s actually a difference between molesting your sisters and cheating on your wife. I believe that the people the Impact Team describe as “cheating dirtbags” — whose personal circumstances and arrangements with their partners are not in fact ours to know or judge — don’t merit this prurient promenade around the headlines. And far more than Josh Duggar’s list of qualities he’s looking for in a bang-buddy, I’m disgusted by the lie that if you’re good, you don’t need to worry about your privacy, and that as long as you don’t have any secrets, you don’t have anything to be afraid of.</p><p> </p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:18:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1041218 at http://twww.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Josh Duggar ashley madison cheating infidelity hacking Here’s Why You’re Blocked on Twitter: No Stranger Is Entitled to My Time or Timeline http://twww.alternet.org/culture/heres-why-youre-blocked-twitter-no-stranger-entitled-my-time-or-timeline <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A debate over the ethics of blocking heats up—but nobody needs an excuse.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/51d3b75f33b8268ec842f265d6b8fd82a68b0c10.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Don’t flatter yourselves, random Twitter trolls — and, for that matter, assorted irritating people. We’re not scared of you. We’re not trying to oppress you. We just honestly don’t want to be bothered.</p><p>The sad clowns who make up the lowest rung of Internet community have been feeling extra slighted lately. Just last month,  Fortune asked, “<a href="http://fortune.com/2015/06/12/twitter-free-speech/" target="_blank">When do Twitter block lists start infringing on free speech</a>?” Though writer Mathew Ingram posed some reasonable ethical questions about the implied shame cycle of shared block list tools like BlockTogether, I’m still going to go with: The answer to that is never. And when the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Jillian York told Fortune, “It’s one thing if a block list is public, so it’s transparent, but there are private block lists as well and that’s a little disturbing. I’ve already seen a couple of journalists using them to block people who aren’t even really harassing,” the implication that blocking is only reserved for when people are “really harassing” raised a different question. Is blocking really always the nuclear option?</p><p>For plenty of us, that’s not how we think of or use the tool. It’s a means of weeding out not just the abusive but the dumb, the the unpleasant, the negative. On Twitter this weekend, actress Anushka Sharma told her five million followers that she’s currently “Trying to keep my Twitter positive (well as positive as possible ) <a href="https://twitter.com/AnushkaSharma/status/625209878454210560">so will BLOCK people who rant nonsense with no sense of responsibility</a>.” And the timing couldn’t have been better, just as, the hashtag <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BadExcusesForBlockingSomeone" target="_blank">#BadExcusesForBlockingSomeone</a>suddenly and briefly became a thing, as if anyone on social media needs to justify their reasons for using one its tools.</p><p>A common refrain among the anti-block crowd is that blocking is somehow cowardly. But as writer Tauriq Moosa observed, “It’s your Twitter. Block whoever the f__k you like. Start with me…. #BadExcusesForBlockingSomeone is a good way to find people to block, <a href="https://twitter.com/tauriqmoosa/status/625599225083097088" target="_blank">who think they’re entitled to your time &amp; attention</a>.” It was a sentiment reflected just a few days earlier when scientist and science writer Katie Mack stated, “People who use <a href="http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/social-justice-warrior" target="_blank">“SJW”</a> as an insult: insta-block…. <a href="https://twitter.com/AstroKatie/status/624133067377131520" target="_blank">Sometimes I block to avoid the tedium of jerks who hate me</a>. If that’s the definition of being in an echo chamber I guess I’m cool with it.”</p>I get that if somehow you wind up on a widely shared block list and feel it’s unjustified, that’s got to feel unfair and bad for your reputation. I get that blocking, because the person blocked knows he or she is blocked, is a more forceful statement than simply muting. It’s an act that says, you are not entitled to read my social media conversation and you are welcome to know that.<p>I also get — because I live it every day — that there are plenty of genuinely loathsome people out there who spend their yelling at strangers on the Internet, that I’m not interested in their creative output, and that ignoring them is my privilege and pleasure. I block people not just because they’re abusive — although a whole lot are — but because they’re dull, annoying,  just won’t stop trying to pick a fight, or I find their worldview repellent. There’s no “bad excuse” for blocking someone. It’s not a violation of their right to be aggressive, gross or plain repetitive and uninteresting. It’s an expression of my right to not put up with nonsense. Because life, like a Twitter character limit, is just too short. And that’s a good enough reason.</p><p> </p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:00:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1039962 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Media twitter social media blocking blocked media British Politician Shuts Down Sexist Questions About Her Weight With the Best Answer Ever http://twww.alternet.org/gender/british-politician-shuts-down-sexist-questions-about-her-weight-best-answer-ever <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Liz Kendall wasn&#039;t having it when a reporter for the Mail asked about her body.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/liz_kendall_2014.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Women, take notes. Whatever your size, whatever your build, this is the correct response to an inquiry about your weight. As British Labour Party leader contender Liz Kendall reportedly put it this weekend, “F__k off.”</p><p>Kendall is a rising star in British politics. If you were to read other coverage of recent activities, you might have picked up her speech about galvanizing her party so <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/20/liz-kendall-labour-leadership-return-roots-people-power" target="_blank">“people have the power to shape their lives,</a>the services they use, and the communities in which they live.” She is also woman so let’s also talk clothes and babies and her body! Spoiler: This is about the Mail.</p><p>In an interview with the Mail’s Simon Walters on Sunday, she is described as the “unmarried Kendall, 44,” asked why her last relationship ended, and if she wants to get married and have kids. It’s possible that a tabloid would ask similar questions of a single male politician — here in the U.S., 46-year-old Cory Booker has certainly fielded his share — but then the narrative moves on. There is commentary on how the “slinky brunette” “maintains her lithe figure” and the cost of her “emerald green suede high heels.” But for the real kicker, Walters writes, “She looks the same weight as the Duchess – about 8 st [about 112 pounds] – though when I ask she slaps me down with a raucous ‘f__k off!’ adding quickly: ‘Don’t print that.’” But print it he did. And I’m glad.</p><p>I’m glad because this is what needs to be said, repeatedly, when women are asked about their weight in any context other than certain doctor visits and Olympic boxing matches. What’s my weight? F__k off, that’s my weight. (Also acceptable: <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/07/07/amy_schumer_death_threats_have_made_me_want_to_use_my_voice_even_more/" target="_blank">Amy Schumer’s observation</a> that “I’m probably like 160 pounds right now, and I can catch a dick whenever I want.”) Speaking to the BBC Sunday, Kendall said that she “cannot wait for a world when women are judged the same as men,” though the report did note that the Mail approvingly referred to Conservative politician George Osborne as “a real skinny malink” in 2014. Yet Kendall is entirely correct in her observation that “I just think it’s unbelievable that in the 21st Century women still get asked such very, very different questions from men.” It’s a reality borne out again and again, every time <a href="http://therepresentationproject.org/askhermore-how-the-media-talks-to-women-on-the-red-carpet/" target="_blank">a woman walks a red carpet</a> or <a href="http://www.xojane.com/issues/scarlett-understandably-bored-sexist-journos-questions" target="_blank">makes an action movie</a> or appears in her capacity as secretary of state and fields inquiries about <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2010/12/hillary_clinton_asked_what_des.html" target="_blank">who her favorite designers are.</a>It’s proven every time she has a child and is instantly assumed to be <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/07/24/breaking_kate_middleton_not_yet_skinny/" target="_blank">flaunting her post-baby body.</a></p><p>Perhaps the day will come when a woman can just have a career without irrational obsession over her weight. Perhaps she can be judged by something other than her shape in relation to that of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. And I believe those things will change when women stop being polite and deferential and apologetic to others — and themselves — about their size. It’ll change when we all take ownership of saying no to rude and dumb questions about our bodies, preferably with a profanity or two thrown in.</p> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 08:09:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1039665 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Gender Liz Kendall gender weight body appearance britain sexism An Anti-LGBT Pastor’s Outed on Gay Dating Site: The Church’s Hypocrisy and Denial Are the Real Sins http://twww.alternet.org/anti-lgbt-pastors-outed-gay-dating-site-churchs-hypocrisy-and-denial-are-real-sins <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A pastor compared gays to alcoholics, then went looking for hook-ups with guys online</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-05-20_at_2.35.14_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Well, well, well, what a surprise. Here’s the setup: Meet Reverend Matthew Makela of<a href="http://www.sjlmidland.org/about-us/our-church-staff"> St. John’s Lutheran Church and School</a>. Until very recently, he was an associate pastor whose church bio described him as a man “blessed” with a wife and five children, one whose interests include “family, music, home improvement, gardening and landscaping, and sports.” And, <a href="http://www.queerty.com/exclusive-grindr-screenshots-reveal-antigay-pastor-is-a-top-who-likes-to-cuddle-20150518">as Queerty reveals</a> this week, he’s also enjoyed taking a clear anti-gay stance, writing in a now-deleted November letter to the Midland Daily News that “We don’t tell a person born with tendencies to abuse alcohol to keep on giving in to his innate desires because he can’t help it. We try to help him in his struggle.” He’s also spoken out on Facebook about how “The transgender movement is going to assist opportunistic sickos in preying upon children and others.” So anyway, guess who’s turned up on Grindr?</p><p>In screenshots obtained by Queerty and confirmed by Makela, the reverend is seen shirtless in a Grindr exchange, saying that “I love making out naked, oral and massage. And I top. Also love to cuddle.” He now tells Queerty he has recently “resigned” from his position but declines to comment further. As Queerty points out, what people do in private is their own business. But if you’re publicly promoting the idea that gay people are like alcoholics and that trans people are in line with “sickos” while you’re trawling for dates on Grindr, this is not quite in line with what you’re preaching about “taking the marriage union with the utmost seriousness.” And it’s genuinely sad and painful to imagine what this man and his family must be going through now because of the conflict between what he desired in private and what he promoted in public. This is what shame and secrecy — so often brought about by some spectacularly warped ideas about God’s will — do to people. Imagine how much turmoil could have been avoided by just being honest. Imagine, beyond the profoundly harmful hypocrisy here, the torment of a man who among other things wanted someone to cuddle. That’s goddamn heartbreaking.And that’s why this story is not just about Makela’s double life. In an open letter on the St. John’s site, Senior Pastor Reverend Daniel Kempin has announced, “It is my grief to inform you that Pastor Makela announced his resignation as a pastor of St. John’s through a letter that was read in worship on Sunday, May 17.… The details of sin that have been kept confidential are being posted online by those who seek to do harm to the Makela family and to St. John’s. This is taking an already difficult situation and making it even more painful.… The Facebook pages associated with St. John’s have been taken down in an attempt to remove the opportunity for malicious posters to have access to St. John’s members.… I write this to you to warn you that you may be confronted with the details of the sin, and to remind you that <a href="http://www.queerty.com/update-church-warns-congregants-not-to-read-rev-makela-grindr-story-deactivates-fb-page-20150519">sin is never pretty. </a>Don’t panic.… Don’t respond.… Be patient and trust God. This too shall pass.”</p><p>The viciousness of Internet mob justice is real and very scary, and unfortunately <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/04/22/this_is_not_how_you_win_the_marriage_equality_debate/">the trolls will take any opportunity that presents itself to be threatening and abusive. </a>I wouldn’t blame the St. John’s community in the least for not wanting to expose itself to drive-by attacks by Facebook cretins. And there’s a measure of compassion to be found in the church’s choice to not embarrass Makela in a public condemnation. But for St. John’s to so actively discourage its congregants from knowing what went down sure seems to indicate a certain “Please just slink off and let’s everybody just forget this ever happened” attitude. That’s unhelpful and profoundly unrealistic. If you want to talk about what’s “never pretty,” start with the death-threats-as-default reaction that a certain segment of the social media population seem to employ with stunning regularity. Then move on to the common conservative resistance to the stubborn reality that the world is not made entirely of man-lady, child-bringing-forth relationships. And while denial may not be a sin, how much more proof do we need that it sure as hell is corrosive?</p><p> </p> Wed, 20 May 2015 11:32:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1036629 at http://twww.alternet.org gay grindr church 'Deal With Your Sh*t, White People': Professor Ignites a Right-Wing Firestorm Over 'White College Males as a Problem' http://twww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/deal-your-sht-white-people-professor-ignites-right-wing-firestorm-over-white <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Two recent university controversies have sparked discussion on just who can be racist and sexist.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/saida_grundy_twitter.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Spirited, frequently heated philosophical and political debates are the hallmarks of academia, and this week has been a particularly colorful one for some real corkers. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, can it be that social media brings out the worst in everybody?</p><p>You’ve likely already heard about <a href="http://jezebel.com/black-professor-saida-grundy-criticized-for-tweets-on-w-1703719773">the kerfuffle out of Boston University</a> after University of Massachusetts Amherst student Nick Pappas <a href="http://socawlege.com/boston-university-assistant-professor-saida-grundy-attacks-whites-makes-false-statements-on-twitter/" target="_blank">posted the recent tweets</a> of newly installed African American Studies professor Dr. Saida Grundy on his site called SoCawlege. Grundy has been outspoken, to say the least, noting in the past few weeks that “NO race outside of the europeans had a system that made slavery ‘personhood’ instead of temporary condition… there is also no race except europeans who kidnapped and transported human beings in order to elusive them and their offspring for life… in other words, deal with your sh*t, white people. slavery is YALL thing.” She also asked, “Why is white america so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem?”</p><p>There appears to be a lot of stuff in Grundy’s now protected Twitter feed that does not look like the work of an educator with a preference for rigorous investigation over sweeping generalization. In March she called St. Patrick’s Day “the white people’s kwanza” and “completely made up,” apparently unconcerned with how Catholic saint’s feast days work. In April she said that Rand Paul was “not a med school graduate” — ignoring while his academic career was unorthodox, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/13/rand-pauls-claim-twice-in-one-day-that-he-has-a-biology-degree/" target="_blank">he did finish med school.</a>Later in the month, she posted a series of tweets about Bruce Jenner’s “white cis male privilege” and announced, “Dear white people: u are all Ben Affleck. those euphemisms for ur ancestors like ‘farmers’ and ‘pioneers’ means you owned humans and killed natives.”</p><p>Observing the posts, SoCawlege asked, “If you are going to work at Boston University you have to teach college aged white males eventually no? You probably already have/are working with them. To us, this seems like you are unqualified to grade their work as you clearly demonstrate some kind of special bias against them. They are a ‘problem population’ after all.” And right wing media quickly went expectedly berserk, with Fox calling Grundy’s remarks “racist” and writer David Horowitz opining that “Anti-white racism is rampant in Black Studies programs which are generally indoctrination programs in left wing politics.”</p><p>Over the weekend, BU spokesman Colin Riley issued a statement that “While we recognize that Dr. Grundy has the right to hold and express personal opinions, <a href="http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2015/05/new_boston_university_professors_tweets_spark_racial_furor" target="_blank">BU does not condone racism or bigotry in any form, and we are offended by such statements.”</a> The university has not said whether Grundy faces any disciplinary action. And she has also found plenty of supporters, like student Noor Toraif, who told the Boston Herald, “You need to have institutional and systemic power in order to be racist. People of color like Professor Grundy don’t have that. … I’m 100 percent supportive of her and excited for her to come to campus.” That idea — that you can’t be racist if you’re a certain race — was echoed at Goldsmiths University this week when diversity officer Bahar Mustafa hosted “a BME Woman and non-binary event only” and then responded to criticism of the limited guest list by explaining,<a href="http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/576734/Bahar-Mustafa-equality-event-white-men-not-racist" target="_blank">“I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist</a>towards white men, because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender. Therefore, women of color and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.” Wow, really? They can’t? Ever? How conveniently self-exonerating!</p><p>You want to acknowledge that the way you look at the dynamics of race or religion or gender or orientation are profoundly influenced by whether or not you are a member of the group that traditionally wields the most power? I am entirely with you. You want to create safe spaces for typically marginalized groups? Got my support. You want to say that we live in a culture that overwhelmingly favors white people, males and heterosexuals? No argument there. But you want to say they’re the only groups that can be biased? Uh, no. You don’t have to go all hand-wringing about “reverse racism” or the supposed plague of misandry to still be really concerned about a university educator going on record as expressing serious and sweeping hostility toward any population, and passing off personal judgments as facts. And call me a crazy dreamer, but I believe there’s opportunity in this world for ANYBODY to be prejudiced. Anybody can be close-minded. Anybody can be wrong.</p> Wed, 13 May 2015 12:29:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1036303 at http://twww.alternet.org News & Politics Education News & Politics Saida Grundy Nick Pappas SoCawlege race education University of Massachusetts Amherst Gay Couple Evicted from Airbnb by Their 'Straight-Friendly' Hosts http://twww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/gay-couple-evicted-airbnb-their-straight-friendly-hosts <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If you&#039;re &quot;friendly,&quot; you can&#039;t be bigoted, right?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/wang.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Good news, people who don’t like to do business with your fellow human beings of a different sexual orientation than you. You’re not homophobic! You’re straight-friendly. And that can’t be wrong because it has the word friendly in it.</p>As Foti Kallergis from Houston’s local ABC news affiliate reported Thursday, Jonathan Wang and his partner got an unwelcome surprise when they used Airbnb recently to find a cozy spot to stay in Galveston for a friend’s wedding. They’d found a “gorgeous” old home listed for $140 a night. They unpacked and went to the wedding, but when they returned to the house for their booked two-night stay, they say the owners of the home were displeased to learn they had rented to a gay couple. “Heather asked me where my wife was, who is this person?” he says. “And it was my significant other, Brent. She said, ‘I thought you were bringing a wife.’ I said, ‘I never said that specifically.’ I said, ‘Is that going to be OK?’ She said, ‘It’s not.’” And with that, he claims, his hosts kicked them out. They went upstairs to pack, and “She also commented as we were going upstairs that’s actually their bedroom upstairs so they were even more uncomfortable with it,” he says. With nowhere else to go, Wang, a commercial airline pilot, called in a favor and found another place to stay.<p>When ABC contacted the host about the incident, she told the reporter, “I’m completely of my legal realms and morals,” whatever that means, and when asked if she rents to gay travelers, she only replied, “That’s none of your business. That’s my private home.” Airbnb, however, saw it differently, and announced late Wednesday that “We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination on Airbnb. The host in question has been removed from the site. Airbnb has clear guidelines that a host or a guest may not promote hate or bigotry.” The company also gave Wang a refund and paid for a night at a hotel that the couple had to find at the last minute. See, if you want to enforce your “morals,” that means that customers and the company you use to promote your business can exercise theirs too. And it might cost you some revenue.</p><p>But here’s the part of the story that’s genius — as Wang showed ABC-13, the original listing for the place included a mention under “Other things to note” that “BTW FYI We are ‘straight-friendly’ hosts.” Wink wink! It’s not about being unwelcoming to gay people, it’s just about being especially accommodating to the special needs of the straight community. Perhaps the homeowners were unaware that the phrase “straight-friendly,” though rarely used, generally only crops up to indicate a gay-orientated establishment that <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2109620/THE-OUT-NYC-New-Yorks-straight-friendly-gay-hotel-open-business.html">welcomes straight people as well.</a> You know why? Because we live on a straight-friendlyplanet. Because we assume straight people can pretty much go wherever they feel like and not have to answer for their “morals” regarding their sexual orientation. But okay, it’s cool to explicitly identify as “straight-friendly” — it has a nice ring to it. Certainly doesn’t make you sound like the sort who’d kick someone out of your home for being gay. How very welcoming. How very friendly. Guess it’s a shame Airbnb didn’t see it that way, right?</p> Mon, 04 May 2015 11:09:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1035835 at http://twww.alternet.org News & Politics Civil Liberties News & Politics Airbnb homophobia galveston straight-friendly These Kids Were Almost Snatched Away by Child Protective Services Because Their Parents Let Them Walk Home Alone http://twww.alternet.org/these-kids-were-almost-snatched-away-child-protective-services-because-their-parents-let-them-walk <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A “free range” family fights back: “The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car.”</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-04-15_at_11.41.24_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Maryland parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they’re afraid of their children being snatched away from them. They are not, however, concerned about the ominous threat of stranger danger. They say they’re worried about local authorities. And they say they’re pursuing “all legal remedies” to protect themselves and their kids.</p><p>This is just the latest twist in a story that began in January when the Meitiv children — Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6 — were the center of a neglect investigation after their parents let them walk a mile home unaccompanied from a playground. Danielle Meitiv, a self-identified <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/03/24/help_my_boys_were_stopped_three_times_by_police_for_being_outside_unsupervised/" target="_blank">“free range” parent,</a> later told CNN that halfway back, the children were stopped by the police, who asked if they were lost. They said no, but the police brought them home, and later that day Child Protective Services came to the house to tell the parents the kids could not be out unsupervised. Yet as CNN points out, there is no Maryland law limiting how old a child can be out alone. “This is no joke,” Danielle Meitiv said. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/20/living/feat-md-free-range-parents-under-attack/">“The threat that they can take my kids is real.”</a></p><p>Then this week, the family found itself back in the spotlight, after Danielle posted on Facebook Monday that they’d had another run-in with authorities. She claims they’d sent the kids to the park again and told them to return in two hours. Instead, she said, “The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car, telling them they would drive them home. They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours. We finally got home at 11pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.” Montgomery County Police, meanwhile, claim they received a call to check on the children, and that when they arrived, the children were in a parking garage and that “<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/free-range-family-again-in-spotlight-after-police-pick-up-kids-6-and-10/2015/04/13/30e2a2f4-e1f1-11e4-81ea-0649268f729e_story.html">The officer observed a homeless subject who he was familiar with, eyeing the children.”</a> Just a reminder — stranger danger is a very small threat. Up to <a href="http://meganslaw.ca.gov/facts.htm">90% of child sex offenders know their victims</a>, and half of them are relatives. Also, the homeless are permitted to look in the direction of children. Danielle says that CPS has now made them sign a “safety plan” that they “will not leave their kids unattended at all until CPS follows up.”</p><p>But now the parents have lawyered up. In a statement Tuesday, Matthew Dowd of the the firm Wiley Rein said that the Meitivs are <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/free-range-parents-plan-to-file-lawsuit-after-police-pick-up-children/2015/04/14/ed4f7658-e2b7-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html">“rightfully outraged by the irresponsible action”</a>of Maryland Child Protective Services and Montgomery County police, and added, “We must ask ourselves how we reached the point where a parent’s biggest fear is that government officials will literally seize our children off the streets as they walk in our neighborhoods.” And the Meitivs allege that the police did not contact them or permit their children to do so.</p><p>The Meitivs have the energy and inclination — and now a platform — to push back on their investigation. But the great problem with overzealous protective intervention is that it more often targets low income families, who are subjected to unreasonable penalties. Last summer, South Carolina mother <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/16/mother_arrested_for_letting_daughter_play_in_park/">Debra Harrell was arrested when she let her 9 year-old daughter play in the park</a> while she went to her job at McDonald’s. She had to pay $4,000 to bond out. Soon after, Florida mother <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/30/another_mom_arrested_for_sending_her_kid_to_the_park/">Nicole Gainey was arrested </a>for letting her 7 year-old walk alone to a local park.</p><p>Given their experience just earlier this year, were the Meitivs playing a dangerous game of chicken with authorities by allowing their children to play unsupervised? Perhaps. Are their children mature enough to be outside on their own, or are they likely to wander off into unsafe situations, including <a href="http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/as-parents-stand-on-principle-are-free-range-children-put-at-risk/?_r=0">heavy traffic</a>? That’s a difficult call, and certainly one no parent would want to be on wrong side of. But it should be very clear that excessive and aggressive actions on the part of authorities are not at all what local CPS cluelessly calls “in the best interest of all children.” It should be clear that if children can articulate where they live and how to reach their parents, they are not lost and in need of assistance. But what’s at the heart of the issue isn’t just how young is too young to be outside in the world — because eventually, every child is going to take that walk to school alone, to get on the subway by himself. It’s about how to keep kids safe while teaching them to be competent individuals. It’s about assessing risk. And about whether “a parent’s biggest fear” should be a stranger or CPS.</p><p> </p><p> </p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:40:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1034879 at http://twww.alternet.org children police Bill Maher’s Bigoted Atheism: His Arrogant Shtick Is Just as Ugly as Religious Intolerance http://twww.alternet.org/media/bill-mahers-bigoted-atheism-his-arrogant-shtick-just-ugly-religious-intolerance <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As the &#039;Real Time&#039; host and his ilk prove, you don’t need a religion to be in the business of spreading hate.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/8425575748_15af8b7cd5_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>You know what you call someone who makes sweeping generalizations on billions of people based on the extreme actions of a few? A bigot. Bill Maher, for example, is a bigot. And if you’re a fan of his smug, dismissive shtick, you’re a bigot too.</p><p>On Friday’s “Real Time,” Maher, who has been openly atheist his whole career but has been increasingly vocal against organized religion in recent years, squared off against Fareed Zakaria, who gave a powerful rebuttal to Maher’s reiteration of the <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sam-harris-tells-don-lemon-he-still-thinks-islam-is-motherlode-of-bad-ideas/">“Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas”</a>assertion. “My problem with the way you approach it,” Zakaria said, “is I don’t think you’re going to reform a religion by telling 1.6 billion people — most of whom are just devout people who get some inspiration from that religion and go about their daily lives — I don’t think you’re going to change religion by saying your religion is the motherlode of bad ideas, it’s a terrible thing. Frankly, you’re going to make a lot of news for yourself and you’re going to get a lot of applause lines and joke lines.” Instead, he urged, “<a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/04/11/fareed_zakaria_tees_off_on_bill_maher_youre_not_persuading_people_youre_getting_applause_lines_in_the_west/">Push for reform with some sense of respect for the spiritual values.”</a>And on behalf of Muslims, Christians, Jews and anybody else who prays to somebody sometimes, let me just say, <em>thank you</em>.</p><p>As the threats of terrorism and right-wing Christianity have risen in the past few years, Maher’s aggressive brand of atheism — also <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/07/richard_dawkins_goes_on_anti_islam_rant_blames_charlie_hebdo_massacre_on_entire_religion/">popularized by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris</a> — has gained a strong following among a certain type of self-professed intellectual. Maher has famously said, “Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do” — which is pretty funny, given the know-it-all arrogance of the anti-religion big leaguers like Maher himself. As Zakaria very eloquently pointed out, that stance has given Maher more power and reach than he’s ever had in his long career. But whatever you believe or don’t, if you’re selling blanket intolerance, you don’t get to call yourself one of the good guys. You shouldn’t even get to call yourself one of the smart ones.</p><p>I’m a Christian, which in my urban, media-centric world is basically equivalent to self-identifying as a hillbilly. It also means that I have to accept that I apply the same word to myself that a lot of <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/11/26/undercover_as_an_ex_gay_inside_the_sordid_world_of_conversion_therapy_partner/">hateful morons</a> do. But on Sunday at my little neighborhood church, our priest delivered a sermon in which he said, “I can’t understand how in places like Indiana, people are using Christianity as an excuse to close their doors, when we should be welcoming to everyone.” Guess what? That’s faith too. I am also keenly aware that in other parts of the world, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/world/africa/kenya-mourns-students-from-its-generation-of-promise.html?_r=0">people are being murdered</a> for a faith that I am privileged to practice openly and without fear. And anyone, anywhere, who is openly hateful to others for their religion is part of a culture that permits that kind of persecution to endure.</p><p>Here’s what I would like Bill Maher and his smug, self-righteous acolytes to understand. There are literally billions of individuals in this world who are not murderous, ignorant, superstitious, hatemongers, who also happen to practice a religion. Billions of people who I swear — to God — have no investment in forcing their beliefs on Bill Maher. Right here in the U.S., there are millions of my fellow Christians who are strongly committed to the ideals of the Constitution, and who don’t want to live in a theocracy any more than they do.</p><p>I recently had a conversation with an atheist friend who asked why, knowing all I do of the wrongs committed by the Catholic Church, disagreeing as strongly as I do with many of its positions on women’s rights, LGBT equality and reproductive justice, I continue to stay within it. And my reply was that this is where I feel I can do the most good. I am not a disinterested party. I’m a citizen of my church and I’m going to continue to demand better of it. I don’t, however, want to sell it to anybody else. You don’t have to believe in God — or however else you may define the concept of something else out there. I don’t have all the answers to life, the universe and everything; I’m just trying to get through this plane of existence in a manner that’s philosophically satisfying and guides me in the direction of not being a selfish jerk. That’s it. All I ask — all that many, many, many of us who practice their respective religions ask — is that you conduct yourself with respect and compassion and a spirit of <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/05/22/tornado_survivor_to_wolf_blitzer_sorry_im_an_atheist_i_dont_have_to_thank_the_lord/">coexistence</a>, and we’ll do the same. I ask that you not make assumptions about the vast majority of the world’s population based on your own need to feel good about yourself and how smart you are. Like Zakaria says, you’re not going to bring about reform that way. And as Maher and his ilk prove, you don’t need a religion to be in the business of spreading hate.</p> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:25:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1034768 at http://twww.alternet.org Media Belief Media News & Politics bill maher islamophobia fareed zakaria Christianity 'Get Your F*cking Kids Vaccinated': Jimmy Kimmel Wages War on Anti-Vaxxers http://twww.alternet.org/video/get-your-fcking-kids-vaccinated-jimmy-kimmel-wages-war-anti-vaxxers <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The late night host made an amazing, foul-mouthed video with the help of a few pediatricians.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/kimmel.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>If you ever needed an excuse to love Jimmy Kimmel as much as <a href="http://uproxx.com/tv/2013/01/jimmy-kimmel-matt-damon/">Jimmy Kimmel hates Matt Damon</a>, the late-night host keeps giving us reason, with his tough as nails messages to the people who still think not vaccinating their kids is a great idea.</p><div id="ym_1007925900364593340">On his Los Angeles-based show last week, he took a moment to reference the severity of a problem that in the past several weeks has led to an <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/26/the_disneyland_outbreak_is_the_anti_vax_tipping_point/">unprecedented measles outbreak</a>, chiding parents who “are more afraid of gluten than smallpox.” And acknowledging that “You probably aren’t going to take medical advice from a talk show host, and I don’t expect you to” in a sly dig to departed co-host of “The View,” Jenny McCarthy, he said, “I would expect you to take medical advice from almost every doctor in the world” – you know, the people who don’t “learn about the human body from their friends’ Facebook page.”</div><p>Kimmel, a father of a baby daughter himself, then presented a prerecorded message from a group of real and refreshingly foul-mouthed doctors who support vaccinations, to deliver a bleep-heavy PSA to explain that “The potential downsides of vaccinations are almost nonexistent,” and to add that “I cannot f—king believe we have to make this PSA.” “Remember that time you got polio?” another doctor asks. “No, you don’t, because your parents got you f—king vaccinated.”</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" id="QgpfNScEd3M" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QgpfNScEd3M?origin=http://www.salon.com&amp;enablejsapi=1" style="margin: auto; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; list-style: none; max-width: none !important;" width="460"></iframe></p><p>Kimmel’s crusade has made for some fascinating television lately, and it’s pretty great to see a person with his platform — with the support of his network — go at it with such gusto. On Monday night, Kimmel gleefully returned to the fray, reading some of the angry tweets his segment inspired, including those from people calling him a “sellout” and “worse than priests abusing boys and Bill Cosby drugging girls.” “So you see,” he observed, vowing not to apologize, “people are taking a reasonable approach to this.” He then sent out his “community activist team” Jack and Becky out to the streets with a petition in support of “a child’s right to choose,” asking parents, “Is there anything else you’ve injected your child with, besides betrayal?” Unsurprisingly, Kimmel’s hard line has continued to draw outrage. On Natural News Monday, a “Health Ranger” reporter claimed Kimmel “makes fun of vaccine-damaged children, revives hate speech bigotry on national TV” and then somehow made a leap to racism and “violence against gays in America.”</p><div data-toggle-group="story-13900152"><p>Parenting is intense and intimate and emotional business. Most of us are honestly trying to do our best by our kids. But as Kimmel said Monday, this is not about making fun of people whose families have been affected by autism. And as he explained, Kimmel has autism in his own family. Last year, he hosted a fundraiser for the <a href="http://www.jrn.com/ktnv/positively-lv/non-profit/Jimmy-Kimmel-hosts-fundraiser-for-local-kids-with-autism-259722911.html">Dave Rice Foundation</a>for autism, and in 2013, he participated in the Skechers<a href="http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20131010006698/en/Jimmy-Kimmel-Join-Brooke-Burke-Charvet-Tommy-Lasorda"> Pier to Pier Friendship Walk</a> for children with special needs. Loving kids means wanting the best for all of them. Being on the side of facts and evidence and science does not make a person a hater. Supporting non-ignorance based choices is not mean. If you’re putting your child – and other people’s children – in the way of harm, you’re being selfish, plain and simple. And you should be challenged about that as often and as loudly as possible.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" id="i2mdwmpLYLY" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i2mdwmpLYLY?origin=http://www.salon.com&amp;enablejsapi=1" style="margin: auto; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; list-style: none; max-width: none !important;" width="460"></iframe></p></div><p> </p> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:50:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1032835 at http://twww.alternet.org Video Media News & Politics Personal Health Video jimmy kimmel Anti-vaxxers vaccinations public health measles outbreak We’re Clean Eating Our Way to New Eating Disorders. http://twww.alternet.org/were-clean-eating-our-way-new-eating-disorders <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Welcome to the era of orthorexia.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_79146808-edited.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Because overdoing it is the American way, we’ve now managed to warp even healthy habits into a new form of eating disorders. Welcome to the era of orthorexia.</p>As Heather Hansman notes this week in Fast Company, orthorexia differs from other forms of disorders in that the obsessive focus is not on how much or how little one consumes, but the perceived virtue of the food itself. As she reports, “Nutritionists and psychologists say that <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3041330/body-week/the-newest-eating-disorder-to-maybe-enter-dsm-orthorexia">they’re seeing it more often</a>, especially in the face of restrictive food trends, like gluten-free, and growing information about where food comes from, and how it’s grown and processed.” Though the term has been in use since Dr. Steven Bratman coined it in 1997, the uptick in cases is leading to a new push to formally include it in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – aka the DSM 5.<p> </p><p>Along with “gluten-free,” “juice fast” and other phrases, you may have been hearing “orthorexia” a lot more lately. Last summer, popular health and food blogger Jordan Younger made headlines – <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/15/an_ex_vegan_takes_on_the_trolls/">and faced intense criticism</a> – when she announced that she was “transitioning away from veganism” as she realized that she had “started fearing a LOT of things when it came to food,” and had been struggling with orthorexia. Her blog now is called “The Balanced Blonde,” where she talks honestly about her journey to wellness. In a recent post, she observed, <a href="http://www.theblondevegan.com/">“It. Breaks. My. Heart.</a> It breaks my heart to see and hear beautiful, motivated, capable young women being sucked in to an extreme diet and way of life because it has been branded to them as ‘THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO LIVE’ above all else.”</p><p> </p><p>It’s true, this kind of disordered mentality does seem to disproportionately target “beautiful, motivated, capable young women.” Because I like to <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/11/18/5_rules_for_being_a_grownup/">cook</a> and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/05/14/mark_bittmans_semi_vegan_revolution/">eat</a>, and because I’ve had <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/11/24/my_life_as_a_lab_rat/">life threatening cancer</a>, in recent years I’ve grown more conscious and curious about <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/01/27/confessions_of_a_part_time_vegan/">how I feed myself and my family</a>. To that end, I read a fair number of cookbooks and food blogs, in particular those with a bent toward healthy eating. And it has not escaped my attention that there have been several wildly successful books in the past few years – often featuring pretty, thin, blond women – that I have had to put down and think, “Oh my God, these people should not be giving advice.” But the creeping fear of food isn’t just for women who look like pilates instructors. Just last week, my spouse attempted to make dinner plans with an old friend, who quickly rejected multiple suggestions of places to eat after citing a litany of foods he would no longer touch. This is not a thigh gap aspiring, crunchy young woman we’re talking about here. This is a man in his 50s.</p><p> </p><p>Reading some of the “clean” living writing out there, including bestselling books by authors with cult-like followings, you can find dubious claims about “detoxing” – which is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-myth-health-diet-science-ignorance">not a real thing</a> unless maybe you don’t have a liver. Enthusiastic endorsements of extreme juice cleanses and fasting – sometimes with a side of colonics. Blanket and inaccurate statements about grains, dairy, animal products, even seemingly innocuous foods like spinach or fruit. But what’s always the tipoff for me that something is a little off is when writing about food and health veers into near obsessive mathematical precision – detailed tips on exactly how much to eat, when to eat, what to combine it with. (For what it’s worth, in contrast, I find the work of <a href="http://markbittman.com/">Mark Bittman</a> and <a href="http://www.jamieoliver.com/">Jamie Oliver</a> reliably sane and inspiring.)</p><p>Food sensitivities and intolerances are real, and there’s zero denying that the Standard American Diet is flat-out deadly. It’s making us <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/04/coke_made_us_all_obese_mcdonalds_high_fructose_corn_syrup_and_the_sick_super_sized_strategy_to_make_you_fat/">fatter and sicker</a> than we’ve ever been at any point in our history, and it’s hurting our children worst of all. But for those who are vulnerable, a quest to eat right can lead to a seriously dysfunctional relationship with food. And we need to have better understanding of eating disorders and support for those who are struggling, because being healthy of body means being healthy of mind too.</p>    Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:37:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1031185 at http://twww.alternet.org Food Personal Health health food fad Why a Dad Is Fighting to Keep Unvaccinated Kids Out of School http://twww.alternet.org/personal-health/why-dad-fighting-keep-unvaccinated-kids-out-school <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When does &quot;freedom&quot; put other children at serious risk? </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_140728705-edited_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>We Americans take our notions of personal freedom very seriously. And the only thing we are more protective of than our individual rights are our rights around how we raise our children. You could gather together a broad spectrum of parents, with deeply opposing social and political viewpoints and child rearing styles, and you’d easily be able to get them to join hands in outrage over a phrase like “nanny state.” Then again – just vaccinate your kids, people.</p><p>The anti-vaccine movement has managed to gain an alarming amount of legitimacy in recent years, propelled by high profile Concerned Moms like Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, as well as media-friendly pediatricians like Dr. Jay Gordon, who claims to have signed hundreds of “personal belief exemptions” for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against diseases like measles and polio. Recently, Gordon reassured CBS News, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/doctor-explains-why-he-lets-kids-avoid-the-measles-vaccine/">“Measles is almost an always a benign childhood illness.”</a> Yet as vaccine rates have dropped in certain areas – often, notably, in affluent, educated hotspots — once previously all but eliminated illnesses have been seeing a strong return. And <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/26/the_disneyland_outbreak_is_the_anti_vax_tipping_point/">in California this month, a measles outbreak</a> that seems to have originated in Disneyland has made painfully clear the consequences of refusing to vaccinate.</p><p>Now, a Marin county father is trying to change the odds – and with a compelling personal reason. Carl Krawitt’s six year-old son Rhett was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. The boy endured four years of chemotherapy, and, happily, is now considered in remission. But while his immune system is still recovering from the experience, he is not yet able to receive his vaccinations, and it may be months before he can. In the meantime, however, he’s living in the California county with one of the state’s highest rates of “personal belief” exemptions — 6.45 percent.</p><p>Carl Krawitt says that all of the children in his son’s elementary school class are vaccinated, but his school itself has a seven percent exemption rate. And now he and his wife are asking the district to “require immunization as a condition of attendance, with the only exception being those who cannot medically be vaccinated.” As Krawitt explained to NPR this week, “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/27/381888697/to-protect-his-son-a-father-asks-school-to-bar-unvaccinated-children">if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies</a>, then … your action has harmed my child.” And as Rhett’s oncologist, Dr. Robert Goldsby, says, “It’s not just Rhett. There are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area that are going through cancer therapy, and it’s not fair to them. They can’t get immunized; they have to rely on their friends and colleagues and community to help protect them.”</p><p>During my two years in cancer treatment, I couldn’t even get a flu shot, even as my immune system was working through some heavy stuff. I had to just wash my hands regularly, and hope my vaccinated family and friends would keep me safe from becoming ill — possibly very seriously. No child, and certainly no child who’s already been through years of chemo, should be expected to compromise his or her well-being because some other child’s parent is taking a possibly dangerously ill-informed stance about vaccinations. No parent who has sat by a child’s hospital bedside should have to fret about sending him to school — which is why I’m grateful that here in New York, public school children are <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/461805A3-25CC-4397-AE8E-F8A32BCF6335/0/SH65MedReq201415_Final.pdf">required to be in compliance</a> with vaccination schedules.</p><p>County health officer Dr. Matt Willis told the New York Times Wednesday that “I obviously have to balance the responsibility to control communicable disease with <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/29/us/father-of-boy-with-leukemia-asks-california-school-officials-to-bar-unvaccinated-students.html?_r=0">everybody’s right to freedom</a>, and the line right now would basically be if there’s a case in this school. This is a decision being made and applied to a school community based on the fact that these children are collected together at the school.” But you know, “freedom” is a word that is far too often used as a excuse to do stupid, harmful things. You have the “freedom” to do things as far they only affect you. When Kristin Cavallari says <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-moms/news/kristin-cavallari-defends-anti-vaccine-stance-were-making-the-best-decision-for-our-kids-2014193">“I’m trying to make the best decision for my kid,”</a> she’s ignoring that her kid lives in a world surrounded by other kids. When Dr. Jay Gordon calls measles “almost always benign,” he sure seems to be forgetting about its potential for children who’ve experienced cancer and other diseases. To act as if our children exist in a bubble, that our sole responsibility is what we believe is right for them, with no regard for how our choices affect others, is selfish and plain dumb. And while I get that nobody likes being told what to do, the social contract that we make when we put ourselves and our kids into the world is that sometimes we do have to do things not just for ourselves but the good of the group. So don’t just vaccinate your kid for his or her sake. Vaccinate for Rhett Krawitt’s.</p><p> </p> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:23:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1031117 at http://twww.alternet.org Personal Health Personal Health vaccination Anti-vaxxer school Tennis Twirls and Page 3 Girls: The Week in Sexism http://twww.alternet.org/gender/week-sexism <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s not your imagination — this was a bad week for women</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screenshot_from_2015-01-23_201924.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Let’s just call this week a total wash and start again Monday, shall we, womankind? It’s been a real extravaganza for progress deferred – and I’m not even going to bother delving into <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/20/jon_stewart_confronts_mike_huckabee_over_hypocritical_beyonce_remarks/">Mike Huckabee’s strange Beyonce fixation</a> here.</p><p>And it all started out so promisingly, too. Earlier this week, the News Corp owned Times <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4328253.ece">reported authoratively</a> that Murdoch’s notorious tabloid, The Sun, was <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/01/20/bye_bye_boobs_after_45_years_page_3_puts_its_shirt_on/">ending its 45 year tradition</a> of displaying topless young women on its Page 3, news that was greeted with enthusiasm by the activists who have justifiably argued that<a href="http://nomorepage3.org/"> “boobs aren’t news.”</a> But then, in a move that can only be regarded as a massive middle finger to readers who prefer their news without T&amp;A, the paper swiftly turned around and offered a topless model with an apology that it had suffered “a mammary lapse.” And the paper’s head of PR, Dylan Sharpe, rather brattily tweeted a picture of <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/richardhjames/the-suns-head-of-pr-dylan-sharpe-apologises-for-page-3-tweet">a winking Page 3 girl</a> to the No More Page 3 campaigners, journalists, and a female MP. As Gaby Hinsliff explained this week in the Guardian, the whole move felt like <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/23/the-sun-page-3-lust-power-women">“an act of defiance, not generous acquiescence to the public mood.”</a></p><p>Things did not improve from there. There was the unveiling of the Carl’s Jr. <a href="http://youtu.be/4WTA_8waxTo">“au naturel”</a>west coast Super Bowl ad, featuring amply endowed model Charlotte McKinney strutting around seemingly in the altogether, obstructed by symbolic tomatoes and melons, while the men around her literally cannot control their hoses or their rhythmic, back and forth movements. Because breasts! Because the breast ogling segment of the audience is the most important demographic of them all! And who cares if <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/02/opinion/brazile-super-bowl-women/">women make up nearly half of the Super Bowl audience</a> anyway? Not when there’s a hamburger-based teenage boy masturbation fantasy to be made!</p><p>But what else have you brought us, this week of suck? How about the new line of smart, dinosaur-themed Natural History Museum shirts and pajamas from UK retailer Marks &amp; Spencer – <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11364158/MandS-criticised-over-sexist-clothes-range.html">available only for boys</a>? In the wake of strong public criticism, the chain does now promise that moving forward, it’s “working with the Natural History Museum on expanding the range to include products for girls.” How generous. How wonderful that the idea the girls might be interested in science and history is a total manufacturing afterthought.</p><p>And for one final bummer to ride out on, there’s what went down at the Australian Open, where interviewer Ian Cohen asked Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, during an on-court interview, “Can you give us a twirl?” When she incredulously asked, “A twirl?” he clarified, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jan/22/serena-williams-australian-open-twirl">“A twirl, like a pirouette, here you go”</a> – and she somewhat uncomfortably obliged. Bouchard later said, “An old guy asking you to twirl, it was funny.” But Serena Williams chimed in, “A commentator asked me to twirl. I wouldn’t ask Rafa or Roger to twirl.” No you would not.</p><p>So let’s just chalk this week up, note that Emma Watson did deliver <a href="http://time.com/3679969/emma-watson-heforshe-initiative-davos/">another powerful speech on gender equality</a> Friday, watch the awesome trailer for <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-trailer-ellie-765928">“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”</a> until the pain subsides, and get back to smashing the patriarchy again on Monday. And ladies, if you feel like twirling, twirl because you want to, not because you’re told to.</p><p> </p> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:01:00 -0800 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1030790 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Gender Media Sex & Relationships sexism Why Is the Right-Wing So Shocked that Miss America Worked with Planned Parenthood? http://twww.alternet.org/culture/why-right-wing-so-shocked-miss-america-worked-planned-parenthood <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Conservative sites are flipping out, but the pageant has a long pro-choice history.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/miss_am2.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>If you thought her less than mind-blowing performance of “Happy” had <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/09/15/back_off_our_beauty_queens/">Miss America fans in a snit</a>, wait till they find out where Kira Kazantsev used to work.</p><p>The newly crowned beauty queen has opponents of reproductive choice up in arms this week over revelations that her résumé includes a stint with Planned Parenthood. LifeNews’ Steven Ertelt fumed Monday, “The woman representing the nation as the new Miss America interned for the very organization that has killed millions of Americans in abortions.” Other conservative sites have also quickly found themselves up in arms over Kazantsev’s past – Truth Revolt gasps that “Our new Miss America once interned for Planned Parenthood and she displays it proudly for all the world to see,” while Live Action News notes that “The new Miss America is an abortion supporter who worked for Planned Parenthood” and lists “her job duties at the company that snuffs out of the lives of young baby girls.” Right on cue, the outrage has now spilled over onto social media, with various patriotic Americans declaring sentiments like, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/16/miss-america-planned-parenthood_n_5829314.html">“She should’ve been disqualified for Miss America.” </a>Because the only choice for Miss America is an anti-choice Miss America.</p><p>In her LinkedIn profile, Kazantsev mentions a three-month internship with a Hempstead branch of the organization last year. She says she “Assisted delivery of programs in local public schools, teaching children about <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kira-kazantsev/34/a78/7ba">mutual respect &amp; self-esteem</a>” and “Conducted research on Planned Parenthood Education.” Sounds like baby killing to me! More damningly still, she’s also interned for Kirsten Gillibrand, who notoriously holds the public position that “a woman’s medical decisions should always be made between her, her family, and her doctor – <a href="http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/issues/right-to-choose">not by politicians.”</a> And as an intern for Solidarity Strategies, Kazantsev worked on political campaigns including that of<a href="http://www.ontheissues.org/house/Annie_Kuster_Abortion.htm"> pro-choice congresswoman Annie Kuster. </a></p><div>For the record, Kazantsev hasn’t exactly been out there knocking on doors for NARAL. She’s simply associated herself with organizations and political campaigns that align themselves with women’s health and reproductive autonomy, which does not in fact put her, Twitter troll, in the “baby butchering business.” It puts her with <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/160058/majority-americans-support-roe-wade-decision.aspx">the majority of Americans</a>, who support the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade.</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13773678"><p>And here’s another fun fact: Miss America has a long and illustrious history of being on the side of choice. You can go back 40 years and find her there. It wasn’t long after Roe v. Wade that Miss America 1974, Rebecca King, spoke openly of her stance. As she later told “The American Experience,” “I thought <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/missamerica/filmmore/pt.html%20Her%20pro%20choice%20stance%20http://www.missamerica.org/our-miss-americas/1970/review.aspx">a woman ought to have the right to choose</a>whether to continue with the pregnancy or not.” Her perspective remains part of the pageant’s own official history, with a note that “Rebecca received nationwide publicity during her tenure <a href="http://www.missamerica.org/our-miss-americas/1970/review.aspx">for her pro choice stance</a> while a country was torn over the Roe vs. Wade issue.” In 1989, the Associated Press noted that <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2209&amp;dat=19890911&amp;id=9ZlKAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=WpQMAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=2688,2566452">32 of the pageant’s 51 contestants identified as pro-choice</a>. Three years later, Miss America 1992 Leanza Cornett unhesitatingly described herself as <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-10-07/features/1992281111_1_miss-america-cornett-america-1993">a pro-choice Christian Republican</a>, saying at her first press conference that <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&amp;dat=19920921&amp;id=mgsSAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=SfADAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=5584,16269">“I don’t think the political arena has a place for family values.” </a>And writing two years ago in the New York Times, 2004 top 10 pageant contender Nancy Redd has described herself as  <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/09/12/is-the-miss-america-pageant-bad-for-women/theres-room-for-feminists-in-the-miss-america-pageant">an African-American, pro choice, pry-my-mascara-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands, proud Southerner. And a feminist.”</a></p><p>Got that? Just because a lady wears a tiara doesn’t mean she’s a staunch conservative. She can support the work of Planned Parenthood and smile from a float at the same time. And if she embraces causes that are progressive, she’s following in Miss America tradition. And that’s just beautiful.</p></div><p> </p> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:53:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1019709 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Gender News & Politics miss america planned parenthood kirsten gillibrand Kira Kazantsev Michelle Duggar's Hateful Anti-Transgender Rights Campaign http://twww.alternet.org/gender/michelle-duggars-hateful-anti-transgender-rights-campaign <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">No, it&#039;s not about &quot;males with past child predator convictions.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/duggar.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>As a mother of 19 children, Michelle Duggar is no doubt an expert on many things. She can probably talk all day about pregnancy and baby-proofing and how to not fly into a blind rage when you step on a Lego in your bare feet. What she is not an authority on, however, is LGBT issues. But that didn’t stop her from speaking out about a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance in the nearby town of Fayetteville, Arkansas.</p><p>The bill, which <a href="http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2014/08/20/fayetteville-passes-anti-discrimination-ordinance/">passed early on Wednesday morning</a> after almost 10 hours of public debate, prohibits discrimination by businesses and landlords based on, among other criteria, <a href="http://wonderstatemedia.com/docs/fayettevillecitycouncil/2014/081914/B1-Enact_Chapter_119_Civil_Rights_Administration.pdf">sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression.</a> But earlier in the week, matriarch and reality star Duggar sent out a profoundly misleading robocall about<a href="http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/michelle-duggars-robocall-compares-trans-women-to-child-1624257036/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1">“some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children.”</a> In it, she went on to assert that the ordinance “would allow men – yes, I said men – to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only” and stated, “Males with past child predator convictions [could] claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.” And she asked, “Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area?” Yes, it’s true; everything transgender people are fighting for is the right of child molesters to take off their pants in front of your daughters.</p><div>Where to even begin on this one? How about the ridiculous way that discussions over transgender rights always somehow seem to boil down to somebody being afraid that someone who makes them uncomfortable will share a bathroom with them? How about the already existing Arkansas state laws prohibiting people from entering the wrong bathroom “for any unlawful purpose” including “indecent exposure and disorderly conduct”? How about the fact that the whole point of the ordinance’s acknowledgment of gender identity and gender expression is because it’s not about “men, yes men” using opposite sex facilities but people being able to use the appropriate facilities for their gender identities?</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13752763"><p>Men, yes men aren’t dressing up as women to go molest girls at the swimming pool. But transgender men and women should have a right to a safe space. Three years ago, Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender Baltimore female, was beaten, kicked and spit on by two teenage girls when she tried to enter a McDonald’s women’s room. And as writer Jillian Page explained in the ensuing public commentary, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/02/23/bathrooms_the_new_transgender_battleground/">“I’m just not sure what the women who are opposed really expect trans people to do when they need to use the washroom.”</a> And by the way, if you’re really very concerned about sexual predators targeting children in locker rooms and showers, I’ve got two words for you: <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/03/12/dottie_sandusky_victims_saw_money/">Jerry Sandusky. </a></p><p>Ultimately, Michelle Duggar’s ignorant little campaign failed anyway, but just remember that this person and her incredibly populous brood continue to have <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/jill-duggar-announces-pregnancy-months-wedding-article-1.1910014">a massive platform</a>and influence, not just in their town but on a national level. And remember that Michelle Duggar is spreading hateful, hurtful misinformation about transgender people and willfully ignoring what the real issues are. At Tuesday night’s public meeting, Lowell Grisham, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, said, “I’ve heard stories from people who have been beaten up, threatened or followed as they left a restroom.” So who really needs protection? Some imaginary children or real human beings? At the end of Tuesday, Mayor Lioneld Jordan made his stance clear, saying, “Today we’ve seen many of our citizens who’ve been excluded from the table of equality, and I believe<a href="http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2014/08/20/fayetteville-passes-anti-discrimination-ordinance/"> it’s time for everyone to have a place at that table</a>, no matter where they come from, what they believe or who they love.” And that leaves the score at Fayetteville: 1, Michelle Duggar: 0 and counting.</p></div><p> </p> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:47:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1016506 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Gender News & Politics The Right Wing Michelle Duggar Duggar family arkansas transgender rights transgender hatred lgbt issues myths about transgenders homophobia You Don't Breastfeed Like Olivia Wilde http://twww.alternet.org/culture/you-dont-breastfeed-olivia-wilde <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Unless, of course, you breastfeed wearing haute couture and high heels.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/olivia.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>You don’t expect total realism in a fashion shoot for a magazine that’s called Glamour. And it’s a positive thing that so many celebrity mothers are coming forward lately to promote breastfeeding as a normal, healthy act that doesn’t need to covered up or exiled to a separate space. But as you gaze upon that Patrick Demarchelier photo of new mom Olivia Wilde, the one in which she’s lovingly holding her naked infant son while he nuzzles at her Roberto Cavalli half-clad bosom, just remember that it goes down a little differently where you’re breastfeeding here in the real world.</p><p>Just three years ago, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/01/19/miranda_kerr_breastfeeding_picture/">Miranda Kerr’s casually sleepy, dreamy photo breastfeeding her infant son</a> in bed was something of a breakthrough when it appeared in the family-friendly People magazine. Since then, however, the gorgeous woman gorgeously breastfeeding image has become almost as de rigueur as the gorgeous woman “flaunting” her “post baby bikini body.” Late last year, supermodel Gisele raised the bar when she shared on Instagram a photograph of her version of <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/12/12/dont_hate_gisele_for_breastfeeding_glamorously/">“multitasking</a>” – feeding her infant while a squad of stylists primped her. But even that photo was grounded in reality – a reality beyond that of most working moms, but a reality of Gisele’s nonetheless. Now, the new photo of Wilde – and her accompanying observation that “You can be someone who is at once maternal and professional and sexy and self-possessed” — have created the latest frenzy of headlines and approving enthusiasm, and taken breastfeeding into the realm of full-on fantasy. Gee, and it was just days ago that Gwen Stefani was winning the <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/1879647/gwen-stefani-breastfeeding-switzerland/">“best breastfeeding photo ever”</a> sweepstakes. </p><div>Wilde’s September appearance in Glamour is, by her own admission, a highly romanticized version of her life. As she says, “I certainly don’t really look like that when I’m [typically] breastfeeding. And there’s usually a diaper involved.” She also tweeted this week, to those wondering about her naked baby, that son Otis in fact <a href="http://www.mydaily.co.uk/2014/08/06/olivia-wildes-son-otis-peed-on-her-dress-during-glamour-shoot/">“peed on my dress” </a>during the shoot. But if you want to go even further for the cause of keeping it real, a friend of mine who’s a new mother suggests, “You want to present an authentic image of motherhood? Put your nannies in the picture.” She further questions Wilde’s light, effortless grasp on a seemingly weightless son – a baffler for many of us who’ve actually held nursing infants as well. “Who can get a baby to latch when you’re holding him like that?” she asks. “This whole supermodel with the perfect boob levitating toward the baby’s mouth without even a visible stretch is crazy.”</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13742209"><p>This week, Wilde humbly thanked Glamour <a href="https://twitter.com/oliviawilde/status/496719534066524161">“for knowing there’s nothing indecent about feeding a hungry baby.”</a> That is a point that, unfortunately, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/23/a_sears_security_guard_tweeted_pics_of_patrons_breastfeeding/">still needs to be made, </a>again and again. But please, editors and publicists and actresses, let’s be cautious about using those hungry babies as props in photo shoots, and about depicting breastfeeding as a fashionista dream. It’s not like frolicking on a St. Lucia beach in a bathing suit or posing on a castle’s staircase in a ball gown or any other typical women’s magazine trope that everybody mostly accepts as occurring in a realm outside reality. In contrast, feeding a real baby is a beautiful but often exhausting, flesh-wrenching, viscera-laden and incredibly challenging act. And if you want to say in an interview that “Breastfeeding is the most natural thing,” then show it as a natural thing — out of couture and high heels.</p></div><p> </p> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:08:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1014450 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Gender Media News & Politics Olivia Wilde breastfeeding Glamour motherhood fashion Are You Ready for Size 000 Jeans? http://twww.alternet.org/gender/are-you-ready-size-000-jeans <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">J. Crew hits new low in vanity sizing insanity.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/jeans.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Small just got smaller. J.Crew, the venerable retailer of preppy clothing and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/10/27/j_crew_isnt_trying_to_make_you_gay/">occasional Fox News outrage</a>, is rolling out a new size. Set your aspirations lower, because now, right beneath its XXS — or 00 — sizes, you are now able to shop for clothing in XXXS – or 000 if you’re numeric about it.</p><p>As Time points out, the new size, which will fit women with a 30.5-inch bust and a 23-inch waist, will be good news to ladies like Dita Von Teese, who claims that years of strict corseting have winnowed her down to <a href="http://time.com/2970046/j-crew-000-small-size/">a 22-inch midsection</a>. And if you’re a tall fourth-grader, I imagine this will come in handy for you as well. It’s safe to say the majority of females who’ve gotten their periods won’t, however, be squeezing into the new size. For “Today” on Wednesday, a spokesman for the company defended the new sizing, citing another audience. “We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried,” she said. “Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market<a href="http://www.today.com/style/tight-fit-popular-retailer-j-crew-introduces-size-000-1D79904036">tends to run small.</a> To further put into perspective, these sizes add up to the smallest possible percentage of our overall sizing assortment. Also to note, J.Crew’s sizes run across the board to try and accommodate as many customers as possible … We run up to size 16, we carry petites and talls, and our shoe sizes run from 5-12. [It's] all based on customer demand.”</p><p>It’s true that bodies across the world are built differently, but it seems a little unsporting of J.Crew to blame its unorthodox sizing methods on its Asian customers. Nor does it take into account how evenly the company truly shows its support for its patrons of all body types. Consider, for instance, J.Crew’s online<a href="https://www.jcrew.com/womens_special_sizes/size16.jsp"> “special sizes” “size 16″ shop</a>, which hilariously features an array of noticeably slender models. Observe its pants sizes, helpfully abundant in<a href="https://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/pants.jsp"> “skinny,” “straight” and “slim”</a> cuts. And laugh with me, won’t you, anyone who’s ever been in a J.Crew dressing room, at the company’s assertion that its sizes “run big.”</p><div>Vanity sizing is no secret in the retail industry, and for years clothing manufacturers have steadfastly been resetting their sizes lower to encourage patrons to feel better about buying their clothes. If you shop, you now must go along with the illusion that 8 is the new 12. One of the most devastating remarks I’ve ever heard was when a famous plus-size female recently bragged of being a size six and a friend dryly noted, “Please. She’s not even a Kohl’s six.”</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13722186"><p>Of course there are women with 30-inch busts and 23-inch waists out there, and they need well-fitting clothes too. Have you ever shopped for vintage clothes? Did women of other eras even have ribs? But it’s as laughable to deem those women triple zeroes as it would be to, say, make a speaker that goes all the way to 11. It infantilizes everybody, says that it’s better for a brand to have three full zero-based sizes than to readjust the sizing to a more realistic system because female consumers just prefer tiny, tiny numbers. When retailers first introduced the subzero size eight years ago, insider Jim Lovejoy told Newsweek, “Most companies aren’t using the standard ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] sizes anymore. Sizes have been creeping up a half inch at a time so that <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/fashion-designers-introduce-less-zero-sizes-112005%20industry">women can fit into smaller sizes and feel good about it.”</a></p><p>As the Capitol Hill Style blogger Belle said last week, “Vanity sizing is based on the misguided notion that <a href="http://www.caphillstyle.com/capitol/2014/06/27/discuss-j-crews-downward-spiral-lands-on-triple-zero.html">you need to lie to women in order to sell clothing</a> … I won’t support J.Crew’s decision to expand their sizing downward because it feeds into the notion that clothing size is a scarlet letter. The practical and reasonable thing to do would be to create a measurement guide that isn’t abhorrently dishonest, accepting that the brand now sells size 24 clothing.”</p><p>Rolling out a triple zero size doesn’t tell consumers, hey, we’re just trying to please the Asian market. It instead immediately makes the triple zero aspirational for the slim-hipped fans of J. Crew’s Ivy League look, and opens the gates for other brands to do the same. It doesn’t just reduce women to a number, it reduces them to nothingness — and then assigns ever shrinking degrees of that nothingness.</p></div><p> </p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:23:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1011260 at http://twww.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender News & Politics J. Crew vanity sizing corset Dita von Teese Size 000 jeans Size XXXS body image It’s Not Sexist to be Creeped Out by the Texas Cheerleader Who Kills Animals in Africa http://twww.alternet.org/its-not-sexist-be-creeped-out-texas-cheerleader-who-kills-animals-africa <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The &quot;huntress&quot; faces a gross backlash -- but the problem isn&#039;t that she&#039;s female.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2014-07-08_at_12.22.51_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Kendall Jones loves animals. Hunting them, killing them, posing for photographs with their lifeless bodies. And because Kendall Jones is also blond-haired, 19 years old and female, she is also great at getting attention. But is disliking Jones and her expensive, unusual hobby automatically sexist?</p><p>The self-described “huntress, conservationist, and sportsman looking to host a TV show in 2015″ has gained herself a whole heap of it in the past few days for her passion – ever since Facebook deleted some of her photographs on the grounds of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2681069/Texas-cheerleader-shared-images-exotic-animals-killed-received-death-threat-Real-Housewives-Joanna-">“reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, </a>the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse.” She also claims her Instagram account was removed and has launched a new one. Since June, a Change.org petition against her photos of <a href="https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/facebook-remove-kendall-jones-page-of-her-killing-animals-for-fun-https-m-facebook-com-kendalltakeswild">“killing animals for fun”</a> has garnered over 13,000 signatures.</p><p>But the Texas Tech sophomore — and proud cheerleader — is not one to take kindly to people telling her what she can and cannot do. By her own description, she sounds like a lady accustomed to getting what she wants. She says she’s been fascinated with hunting since the time she <a href="https://www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild">“was just too small to hold the guns my dad had brought,”</a> and she’s been traveling to Africa to hunt game since she was 13. By the age of 14, she’d already hunted a white rhino, elephant, “huge maned lion,” leopard and hippo. She fondly recalls, “I was lucky enough to have all of my hunting adventures professionally videoed and put onto DVD.” Now, since getting pushback on the images she shares on her social media, she’s decided to make herself a cause, encouraging followers to voice their solidarity for “#TeamKendall #SupportKendall.” And she has indeed garnered plenty of rah rahs for her stance that she’s “doing my part in conservation to make a difference.” Her manager — yes, she apparently has a manager – adds that <a href="http://www.people.com/article/kendall-jones-texas-cheerleader-african-hunting-photos-controversy">“all of Kendall’s hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100 percent legal </a>with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries’ officials and wildlife department.</p><div data-toggle-group="story-13719759"><p>But Jones’ rather in-your-face response has also quickly earned her a wider pool of detractors, including the typical Internet lady-hater trolls. You don’t have to look long on her Instagram feed to see people who call her a “bitch,” “slut” and “bimbo,” and hope that “one of these animals gets loose one day and bites you right in the twat.” On Sunday, the CBC’s Matt Kwong pondered whether the response to Jones was sexist in nature, noting that “droves of mostly American men have long paid for ‘canned hunting’ expeditions run by South African outfitters … <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/kendall-jones-big-game-hunting-furor-is-it-sexist-1.2697848">Male trophy hunters might get a pass</a> because the public has certain assumptions about masculinity and the types of people who do abhorrent things.”</p><p>Jones’ gender no doubt plays a role in the response she’s received – both negative and positive. Male hunters generally don’t get called sluts. But entitled white people going off to shoot animals in Africa do actually get called out for it regularly, regardless of their sex. Two years ago, Donald Trump’s sons ignited a firestorm for their similarly braggy photos after the “avid outdoorsmen” took a trip with a company that specializes in letting customers hunt and kill <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/the_trump_brothers_grotesque_hunting_spree/">“old &amp; mature male animals.” </a>And this past winter, Texan Corey Knowlton made headlines when it was revealed <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/01/16/hunter_i_want_to_be_intimately_involved_with_a_black_rhino/">he’d shelled out $350,000 for a permit to hunt an endangered black rhino. </a>It’s not just the idea of a young woman paying large sums to shoot large animals that’s off-putting to many — even those of us who eat meat and respect responsible, ethical hunting practices in the U.S. and abroad. And it’s just a little tough to buy the whole conservation line when a person is also posting about how “badly I wanted to shoot something” and posing with dead animals like they’re props.</p><p>Jones, meanwhile, is certainly being strategic in working the gender angle to her advantage, sharing photos of herself not merely cuddling up to carcasses but in smiling her toothy, girl-next-door smiles. If her dream is to land a TV series, she’s certainly working her femininity to her advantage. Having conquered big game, she’s got her eye on an even bigger trophy now – fame.</p></div><p> </p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 09:19:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1010112 at http://twww.alternet.org Kendall Jones Is Veganism Child Abuse? http://twww.alternet.org/food/veganism-child-abuse <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A mother is arrested for infant neglect after a hospital crisis that began with her veganism.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/vegan_mom.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In a case likely to kick up — yet again – the debate over parental responsibility regarding how children are fed, a Florida mother was arrested Tuesday for child neglect and her newborn was admitted to the hospital in a crisis that started over vegan beliefs.</p><p>Local news station WESH reports that Sarah Anne Markham’s pediatrician alerted authorities after the woman’s 12-day-old baby appeared dehydrated during a doctor visit. The doctor said that Markham refused the medical advice to admit the child to the hospital or take the medicine offered, on the grounds that <a href="http://www.wesh.com/news/police-mom-refuses-to-treat-infant-with-nonvegan-medicine/26657318#!4hgrX">“it contained ingredients that came from animals.”</a> After police were summoned to her home, Markham reportedly told them that she’d purchased organic soy formula for the baby, and that “she wanted to pursue a religion-based treatment and she had contacted a ‘natural’ or vegan doctor, but police said she did not share any proof of this to them.” Police added that “They asked Markham if the product was confirmed with a doctor that it was safe to give the newborn, and she replied saying that since it was organic, it must be OK.” The baby remains in protective custody.</p><p>The case has chilling echoes of the one of the Atlanta couple who three years ago were sentenced to life for murder in the starvation death of their 6-week-old son. The couple’s defense argued that <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/vegan-couple-serve-life-sentences-starving-baby-death-court-rules-article-1.957707">“the parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans,”</a> but prosecutors countered that they’d limited his diet to soy milk and apple juice. At the time of his death, the baby weighed just three and a half pounds. Also in 2011, a French couple were charged with <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371172/French-vegan-couple-face-jail-child-neglect-baby-died-vitamin-deficiency.html">“neglect and food deprivation followed by death”</a> after the demise of their 11-month-old baby, who died underweight and with a vitamin deficiency. The vegan couple admitted the child’s entire diet consisted of breast milk.</p><div>That police had to forcibly enter the 23-year-old Markham’s home because she “told police she didn’t think she had to answer or acknowledge police presence,” and that a new mother would even contemplate caring for her child based on “a religion-based treatment” strongly suggests a parent with issues that are far beyond the parameters of simply wishing to pursue a vegan lifestyle. And at the other end of the spectrum, diet-based neglect doesn’t have to mean deprivation of animal products. Earlier this year, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/03/20/how_do_you_save_an_obese_baby/">an 8-month-old Colombian baby was “rescued” for medical intervention</a> by a local charity after tipping the scales at 44 pounds. In the U.S., childhood obesity can be cited as “a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/11/29/is_childhood_obesity_abusive/">form of medical neglect” </a>and grounds for placing a child in foster care.</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13711872"><p>But strict dietary parenting doesn’t have to be extreme to still raise eyebrows. Jennifer Lopez did so earlier this month when she crowed about her vegan-leaning lifestyle and admitted, “Sometimes my son will be like,<a href="http://www.extratv.com/2014/06/02/jennifer-lopez-reveals-she-went-vegan-to-lose-baby-weight/"> ‘I want American cheese, I don’t like this vegan cheese.’”</a> And when Gwyneth Paltrow wrote last year that “Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains like white rice, we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs,” tabloids were quick to report that<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2292243/Gwyneth-Paltrow-reveals-starves-children-carbohydrates.html">“Gwyneth Paltrow reveals she starves her children.”</a></p><p>Plenty of parents can and do r<a href="http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/vegetarian-vegan-children.aspx#close">esponsibly raise vegan children</a>, but it takes considerable thought, self-education and care to assure they are getting adequate nutrition. Writing in the New York Times two years ago, author Nina Planck argued that “For babies and children, whose nutritional needs are extraordinary, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/04/17/is-veganism-good-for-everyone/a-choice-with-definite-risks">the risks [of veganism] are definite and scary…. You may choose to be a vegan. Your baby doesn’t have that luxury.”</a> How we choose to feed ourselves is a personal choice. What we do to our children has serious health and ethical consequences. And whatever a parent’s personal beliefs, they must be continually adjusted and evaluated based on a child’s needs. Because no matter what, your kid always has to be at the top of the food chain.</p></div><p> </p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 10:32:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1007506 at http://twww.alternet.org Food Food Gender News & Politics Personal Health veganism questionable parenting Sarah Anne Markham dehydration The Most Depressing Meme Ever: World's Hottest Mugshot http://twww.alternet.org/culture/most-depressing-meme-ever-worlds-hottest-mugshot <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Ladies, you can stop &quot;swooning&quot; now.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2014-06-20_at_2.59.52_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In a week that’s seen George Will dropped from a major outlet and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/06/19/adios_dov_charney_and_george_will/">Dov Charney canned from American Apparel</a>, a week in which somebody finally <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/06/18/dr_ozs_bad_medicine/">called Dr. Oz on his BS</a> and<a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/06/19/scandals_heat_up_for_scott_walker_and_chris_christie/">Scott Walker on his </a>and <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/06/18/your_days_are_numbered_redskins/">the Redskins on theirs</a>, one which we became <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/06/17/sodomy_in_every_state/">one state closer to sodomy for all</a>, perhaps it was inevitable we’d be due for a cultural intellectual step backward. And his name is Jeremy Meeks.</p><p>To be fair, it’s not Jeremy Meeks’ fault. The 30 year-old California man was arrested Wednesday and is currently facing <a href="http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/arrestees-handsome-mug-shot-goes-viral">five weapons charges and one gang charge.</a> He’s also now a viral star thanks to that SCORCHING HOT mugshot the Stockton Police Department posted Wednesday. It was supposed to be just an update on its Weston Ranch “Operation Ceasefire enforcement mission,” a notification of four felony arrests and four confiscated firearms. But come on. Look at those dreamy blue eyes. Those pillowy lips.<a href="http://www.hlntv.com/slideshow/2013/08/08/meaning-prison-tattoos-josh-gouker-joshua-young-trial">That teardrop tattoo.</a>  The whole Hey Girl tilt of his head. He’s everything you’d want in a in a convicted felon. Operation Ceasefire? More like Operation Panty Drop, MIRITE? Before long, the Stockton Police Facebook page was stampeded with traffic, and Meeks and his mugshot had joined the ranks of the Old Spice Man and <a href="http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/ridiculously-photogenic-guy-zeddie-little">Ridiculously Photogenic Guy</a> in the sexiest meme Hall of Fame.</p><p>Over 50,000 shares and 16,000 comments from instant admirers noting, “If he broke into my house, I don’t know who should be more afraid” and saying that he’s “just making my dreams come true, a bad beautyfull [sic] guy,” Meeks is suddenly famous. He’s already got his own Facebook fan page, which, while not the <a href="http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/stockton/2014/06/19/hot-mug-shot-felon-jeremy-meeks-stockton-california/10883449/">$900,000 in bail money</a> the judge set for him this week, is something. The local jail staff reports that <a href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/06/19/stockton-felony-suspects-mugshot-making-women-around-the-world-swoon-on-facebook/">women around the country are calling the jail</a> where he’s being held to express their support — and leaving their numbers. You’ve got to wonder how embarrassing this all is for him. And I don’t mean the weapons arrest.</p><p>Three other men were nabbed in the same bust, and all of them have their fans as well. Baby-faced Juzri Coleman and the soul patch-sporting Terry Bailey have earned a few “This one is more my type” comments on Facebook — even the salt-and-peppered, “Shawshank thang going on” Joelin Coleman has managed to elicit a little good natured squealing, but none can hold a handle to Meeks in fangirl excitement. If this bunch were N’Sync, “Dreamy McMugshot” would be Justin Timberlake.</p><p>As his fame has spread, the commentary around him has become more deliberately jokey and absurd, but the headlines that <a href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/06/19/stockton-felony-suspects-mugshot-making-women-around-the-world-swoon-on-facebook/">“Women around the world swoon”</a> and “Ladies love this felon’s mugshot” and <a href="http://blogs.marketwatch.com/themargin/2014/06/20/mugshot-of-worlds-most-photogenic-criminal-has-the-ladies-swooning/?mod=MW_latest_news">“World’s most photogenic criminal has the ladies swooning”</a> have certainly done their bit to give the mainstream media a chance to make our gender look a little dumber. Sure, there’s something inherently laughable about a man a colleague described on Friday as “preposterously handsome” and a photograph that might otherwise be right at home in a Dolce &amp; Gabbana ad campaign appearing instead on a mugshot. It also certainly suggests that whomever is behind the camera at the Stockton Police Department has a great eye. But when you’re finished fanning yourselves, all, just note that Stockton Police Officer Joseph Silva told the AP this week he’s also “one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area.” He reportedly has <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/20/bad-boys-yum-yum-violent-criminal-or-not-this-mans-mugshot-is-heating-up-the-web/">six prior felonies.</a> Hot or not? I don’t even want to have to explain why this is yet another messed up example of women participating in our own degradation.</p><p>Meeks is to be arraigned Friday afternoon. Sorry, girls, but depending on how the California justice system proceeds, it looks like he may be off the market for a while after that. And whether you’re super good looking or not, as a local woman told the <a href="http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/06/19/stockton-felony-suspects-mugshot-making-women-around-the-world-swoon-on-facebook/">CBS News in Sacramento</a>, “It’s just a shame all of that’s going to waste.”</p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 11:57:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1005165 at http://twww.alternet.org Culture Culture Media News & Politics mugshot KFC Shows How to Handle a Social Media Disaster http://twww.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/kfc-shows-how-handle-social-media-disaster <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A scarred child gets help from a very unlikely source.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/pit_bull_girl.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>When you’re an industry giant and you’re confronted with a potential social media crapstorm thanks to the ignorance of some low-level mouth breather employee, you have a choice. You can distance yourself as quickly as possible from the whole ugly situation with a stilted and terse statement that what happened in no way reflects your corporate policy and you’re a proud supporter and blah blah blah. Or you can take the incident as chance to be a little bit awesome. This week, KFC chose the latter.</p><p>In April, 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher was attacked and mauled by three pit bulls while visiting her grandfather’s mobile home. Officials said there were <a href="http://www.wapt.com/news/girl-4-attacked-by-3-pit-bulls/25408208">10 pit bulls living in the home at the time.</a> As her family’s Facebook page describes, the child suffered “bites all over her body but the most damage was to her sweet little face. She had a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/victoriasvictories">broken upper and lower jaw, broken nose, cheekbones and right eye socket. She lost her right eye completely and the ability to move the right side of her face.</a> They have reconstructed her bottom jaw but can’t do any more surgeries until she grows new bone in her face due to the fact that the broken pieces are too small to piece together.” Just weeks ago, she was still on a feeding tube, and the family admitted it was “struggling financially due to the fact that the insurance company is refusing to pay for many of her medicines and anything to do with her feeding tube or formula which is $550 a month.” Then on Thursday, shortly after posting an update that “Victoria received a good report from the ophthalmologist today,” there was another one. It was a photo of the child, scarred and smiling under her adorable eye patch, with the message, “Does this face look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners. I personally will never step foot in another KFC again and will be personally writing the CEO.”</p><div>By Friday, the story was going viral. Victoria’s grandmother Kelly Mullins – who is divorced from the girl’s grandfather — told WAPT News that “I took her to the doctor and I went to KFC. I ordered a large sweet tea and her some mashed potatoes and gravy because she was hungry. She was on a feeding tube at the time, but I figured she could just swallow [the potatoes.] They just told us, they said, ‘We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.’ [Victoria] understood exactly what they said.” She said that child cried all the way home and added, “No matter what’s wrong with a person, if a person’s different, if a person’s scarred, or is a different color or anything, people shouldn’t be discriminated against. Her being 3 years old and already being discriminated against, it makes me mad, because I know for <a href="http://www.wapt.com/news/central-mississippi/girl-scarred-by-pit-bull-attack-reportedly-asked-to-leave-restaurant/26477388#ixzz34v6gtaYO">the rest of her life it’s going to be like that.”</a></div><div data-toggle-group="story-13703780"><p>Or maybe not. The news of the incident quickly spread to social media, where the outcry intensified. KFC spokesman Rick Maynard issued a statement that the company was launching an investigation into the accusation, adding that “We have been in touch with the family and are committed to doing something appropriate for this beautiful little girl and her family.” The company then spent a good part of its weekend <a href="https://twitter.com/kfc/with_replies">replying to angry patrons on Twitter</a> and Facebook, respectfully and clearly, which isn’t always easy when you have, I am not kidding, people posting pictures of Nazis on your page. And it added on Victoria’s own Facebook page a message to “Please accept our sincere apologies while we try to investigate this incident … and we wish nothing but the best for Victoria in her recovery.” Then, true to its promise to do something for the child, the company announced it was giving Victoria and her family <a href="http://www.people.com/article/kfc-pays-medical-bills-girl-pitbull-attack-mississippi">$30,000 toward her medical bills</a>, adding, “The entire KFC family is behind Victoria.”</p><p>KFC, which, along with Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is part of Yum! brands, knows that handing a big check over to an injured child is great publicity. It knows very well that once you’re tarred with the “kicks out injured little girls” brush you’ve got to be all over that, damage control-wise. The company, in its social media response and in its stepping up and pledging the money, has demonstrated that it understands that a brand can be made or broken by its customer perceptions of it. KFC cannily recognized that an apology is nice, but when you are a big company and you’re talking about a family that’s hurting emotionally and financially, that specifically chose your establishment as a treat after a child’s doctor appointment, you have a chance there to go big. Others can be cynical about that, but if you want to be cynical about a little girl who’s been through hell getting help with her medical expenses, you can be cynical on your own. Victoria’s family, meanwhile, is <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/8q8yww">continuing to solicit donation</a>s for her bills, and they’ve received an outpouring of support and encouragement. And though a check and an apology can’t eradicate the trauma of what happened to that girl in April or one person’s recent cruelty, it can inspire others to acts of kindness. It can give a family a happier outcome to a story that started out horribly. And its sensitive handling of the entire situation has been the smartest thing KFC has done since the Double Down.</p></div><p> </p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:37:00 -0700 Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon 1004709 at http://twww.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Food Media News & Politics kfc social media damage control Victoria Wilcher pit bull attack