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Social Justice

Police Can't Do Everything

Policing in the US–specifically, police abuses and a resulting lack of accountability–has been a frequent topic of discussion over the past few years, with the Black Lives Matter movement at the forefront. The problems endemic to our policing institutions are myriad and will likely be difficult to correct. Start with the basics: what are police for? Most people would say the purpose of police is law enforcement–that is, to take the laws duly enacted by legislative bodies and carry out their execution.

Endless Black Killing

Another day, another black man gunned down by police for no good reason. This isn’t right. This shouldn’t be normal. 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death yesterday during a traffic stop over a broken taillight. Castile had a gun, which he was licensed to carry, and informed the officer of this fact before reaching for his wallet to provide his identification, as we are all expected to do during traffic stops.

Private Prisons, Organization, and Accountability

Mother Jones recently featureda lengthy investigative story into a private prison administered by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). It was almost surprising in how dramatically _un_surprising it was. I fully recommend reading the entire piece. It’s quite long–over 30,000 words–but well worth your time. There’s a lot of information packed within. I’m not here to rehash or summarize, but rather to draw attention to aspects I found particularly salient. One is that Winn Correctional Center, which is the prison the author investigated by working there for four months, comes across as an unusually poorly run prison.

Nation States and Independence

Why does national independence matter? What does it even mean? Prior to the 18th century, nations as we understand them did not exist. Political borders existed, certainly, but these were drawn up by various monarchs and despots to delineate their territory. Individuals feeling affinity toward the political body under whose boundaries they lived was uncommon. Once that began to change, though–as modern ideas of nations and political participation took hold–individuals started identifying with nations.

Failures of Liberalism

There is presently a rising tide of right-wing sentiment in Western countries. These aren’t happening in a vacuum–they represent what are, ultimately, failures of liberalism. Brexit, the Tea Party, Donald Trump, and right-wing movements throughout Europe are reflecting changing attitudes that threaten to upend the established order. It’s easy to dismiss right-wing reactionaries as ignorant, racist xenophobes. Often times, that’s exactly what they are. But when they become numerous enough, when they have enough support, it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re wrong.

Taking Trolls Seriously

What’s the deal with Internet trolls, anyway? The New Republic offersan intriguing review of a new book entitled This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, which does pretty much what it says. Folklorist Whitney Phillips plumbs the depths of troll culture and psychology and finds that, for people who consider themselves so novel and edgy, the truth of the matter is that their repertoire is altogether simplistic and well-worn:

The Danger of Bad Metaphors

When comparing two groups of people by way of metaphor, make sure it says what you mean to say about each group. An ill-conceived metaphor can undo your argument, and needlessly damage others in the process. This is primarily a response to a New Republic piece by Jeet Heer, released yesterday. Entitled “Breaking Mad,” it compares the Republican Party’s embrace of white supremacy to drug addiction. Imagine an autopsy that concludes the cause of death was a drug overdose.

In Defense of Incrementalism

Nobody likes when change happens slowly. But given a choice between no change, a little change, and an epic disaster, is that really a choice at all? I’ve had this particular topic in my queue for a while, I just hadn’t gotten around to it. For want of something to talk about that isn’t the Orlando shooting, which I do plan to write about again at some point, I came across an insightful piece written in response to a Freddie deBoer post.

The Deadliest Shooting in US History

This is not a title I would have wanted to use, but there’s no point in denying reality. If you’re not up to speed, here’s a summary. Early Sunday morning, a man armed with an AR-15 and a handgun opened fire in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He killed 49 people and wounded 53 more. It must be pointed out that the club targeted was Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in the area.

What are Safe Spaces Good for?

So-called “safe spaces” get criticized as zones where everything “uncomfortable” is banned, dissenting ideas are quashed, and people are shielded from conflict to the point of being infantilized. But is that really what’s happening? The origin of the “safe space” concept is uncertain. _Dissent_ Magazine offers a few possibilities: The term “safe space” has multiple origin stories—Moira Kenney’s _Mapping Gay L.A. _links safe spaces to gay and lesbian bars, where, as Malcolm Harris [described](http://fusion.