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Social Justice

French Secularism and the Burkini Ban

France made headlines this past week when a small town decided to ban body-covering swimwear known as “burkinis” from its beaches under the guise of security concerns. The measure was already struck down by France’s highest administrative court, but it highlights an ongoing debate in the country, and indeed in the rest of the Western world. To what extent is a government permitted to regulate what its citizens wear? Does that authority also extend to clothing that is overtly religious in nature?

Progressivism, Sexual Violence, and Restorative Justice

Is the progressive movement to reform our criminal justice system and make it more humane at odds with the equally progressive desire to more aggressively punish rapists? The story that served as the impetus for bringing this topic to wider attention involves filmmaker Nate Parker, a black man who was once accused of sexual assault and later acquitted. There has been some debate over how to approach the work of someone who may be a rapist, even if a court of law didn’t hold them accountable.

Trolls and Internet Hate Culture

When TIME magazine notices that online hatred and trolling are serious problems, you know they’ve hit the mainstream. I don’t expect to break any new ground here given my past posts on this topic. However, I find it noteworthy that TIME magazine–one of the most milquetoast publications that could grace one’s coffee table–finally had a cover story about online trolling and hateful behavior. Joel Stein wrote it, who is as decent enough a person as any to have tackle it.

Police Body Cameras: A Failed Policy

Around the time the Black Lives Matter movement began in earnest, so too did a national discussion on ways to monitor police officers and moderate their behavior. One of those measures was to develop widespread use of body cameras by police. Thus far, this policy has been largely a failure. Common Dreams analyzed body camera programs in 50 US cities to determine how those policies were put in place, whether they held police officers properly accountable, and to what extent they protected the civil rights of citizens.

Activism and the End of Slavery

In the United States, a common argument surrounding the Civil War is that it was unnecessary because slavery was dying out on its own. Economically unviable in the face of industrialization, it would have gone extinct on its own. But is this true? In short: no. The notion that slavery would have eventually vanished without government intervention due to fundamental economic concerns originates from both misunderstandings and deliberate distortions of history.

The Red Bead Experiment

What can we learn about life and work from a bunch of little white and red beads mixed together? Quite a bit, actually. If you’ve never heard of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, you’re hardly alone. He’s been dead for over 20 years, and had already passed away before I’d first heard of him. What he will likely be most remembered for is being instrumental in Japan’s economic revitalization following World War II.

Twitter Ban: Too Little, Too Late

Social media service Twitter took the rare step this week of permanently banning Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, after years of abhorrent behavior. If you’re just catching up, the short version is this: Yiannopoulos has been the tech editor for right-wing outlet Brietbart News since late last year. His online infamy has its provenance in his support for GamerGate, which saw him pitching in to attack and encourage attacks on various women involved with video games and video game journalism.

Diversity in the Tech Industry

Don’t believe the hype: the tech industry isn’t suffering a “pipeline problem.” It’s a culture problem. Facebook released theirannual diversity report last week. In it are some positive changes over last year, but they aren’t much to write home about: women are now 27% of leadership positions (23% last year), and 5% of non-tech employees are now black (vs. 3% last year). Is this good news? Yes, in the sense that it represents forward progress.

Confessions of a Former "Nice Guy"

This is one of those rare occasions where I’ll get personal in order to make a broader point. Growing up, I gravitated toward things that pigeonholed me as a nerd. It didn’t help that I wasn’t particularly athletic, despite several extended attempts at it. I was into computers, video games, comic books–pretty much a walking stereotype. I was part of a group of misfits, all boys who felt similarly ostracized and separate from their peers.

The "Real" American Left

Yesterday, an open letter on identity politics, to and from the Left was put up on Medium. From there, the #WeAreTheLeft hashtag was spawned. But none of this is as simple as it seems. The format of the letter is straightforward enough. A struggle is framed in terms of women–some trans, some queer, some of color–who have spoken up and faced vicious harassment and verbal abuse. The anecdotes are troubling and depressing.