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The conversation we ought to be having in response to the July 16 incident and its heated aftermath isn’t about race, it’s about police arrest powers, and the right to criticize armed agents of the government. By any account of what happened—Gates’, Crowleys’, or some version in between—Gates should never have been arrested. “Contempt of cop,” as it’s sometimes called, isn’t a crime. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It may be impolite, but mouthing off to police is protected speech, all the more so if your anger and insults are related to a perceived violation of your rights. The “disorderly conduct” charge for which Gates was arrested was intended to prevent riots, not to prevent cops from enduring insults. Crowley is owed an apology for being portrayed as a racist, but he ought to be disciplined for making a wrongful arrest. –“The Henry Louis Gates “Teaching Moment”,” Radley Balko, Reason
Moves to rehabilitate [Oscar] Wilde began two years ago when his aphorisms were included in a collection of maxims and witticisms for Christians published by Father Leonardo Sapienza, head of protocol at the Vatican. It included such Wildean gems as “I can resist everything except temptation” and “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”— not exactly orthodox Catholic teaching. Father Sapienza said that Wilde was a “writer who lived perilously and somewhat scandalously but who has left us some razor-sharp maxims with a moral.”Pope Benedict XVI, a vehement opponent of gay marriages or civil unions, has reinforced Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a disorder. Men “with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” are banned from training for the priesthood under Vatican rules. On the other hand the Pope has often belied his reputation as a dogmatic hardliner since his election four years ago, for example devoting his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to spiritual and physical love. –“You Will, Benedict, You Will: Vatican claims Oscar Wilde as one of its own,” Richard Owen, Times Online
Thy Neighbor’s Wife is legendary for the marital transgressions that Talese himself committed in its creation, first as a massage-parlor customer, then as a manager, and later as a near-resident of the Sandstone Retreat, the southern California destination where John and Barbara wind up. A reporter today, no doubt, would have flaunted his role throughout, and probably brought along a film crew, too, Sacha Baron Cohen-style. Talese’s self-presentation, by contrast, is understated and incredibly satisfying. In a book composed largely of chapter-length narratives revolving around the perspective of a single character, he simply leaves the last chapter for himself, telling his own story in the third person, just like the others. That might sound like a stagy reveal, but one is grateful, in retrospect, that Talese held back just how intimate (in all senses of that word) he got with his material. –“Dispatch from a Failed Revolution,” Harper’s editor Bill Wasik, The Second Pass
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”