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Jackson was turned into a punch line (and sometimes a punching bag) in an effort to defuse the threat he posed to stable notions of gender and sexuality, or more broadly, normalcy. As the quintessential icon of queerness, the King of Queer embodied all of our social anxieties with the ways he blurred the lines between black and white, femininity and masculinity, fantasy and reality, adult- and childlike behavior, hetero and homo sexualities. He was the butt of endless jokes and the subject of contempt and pity. The “pity” part is the thing I truly don’t understand. It’s remarkable to me how often words like sad, tragic, troubled, sick, sorry, and unhealthy stand in such close proximity to his name. Michael Jackson lived a spectacular life, not a sad one. Artistic and material successes aside, in interviews from the ’80s and ’90s, Jackson’s often seen joking and laughing. A glow and lightness emanates from him. –“Michael Jackson: The King of Queer,” Stephanie Fairyington, Out
To be an American soldier today is to serve a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of armed conflict without end. Once begun, wars continue, persisting regardless of whether they receive public support. President Obama’s insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, this nation is not even remotely “at” war. In explaining his decision to change commanders without changing course in Afghanistan, the president offered this rhetorical flourish: “Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths.” In fact, when it comes to war, the American people avert their eyes from difficult truths. Largely unaffected by events in Afghanistan and Iraq and preoccupied with problems much closer to home, they have demonstrated a fine ability to tune out war. –“Endless war, a recipe for four-star arrogance,” Andrew J. Bacevich, The Washington Post
There was a time when appeasement was an inoffensive, even a rather positive term. The French word “l’apaisement,” from which it probably derives (or the earlier medieval-French apeser), meant the satisfying of an appetite or thirst, the bringing of comfort, the cooling of tensions. Even today, Webster’s dictionary’s first definition of “appease” is “to bring peace, calm; to soothe,” with the later negative meaning being, well, much later in the entry. Even when it was first employed in political discourse, its meaning was benign; in 1919, hoping to bring Europe from war to peace, Prime Minister David Lloyd George declared that his aim was appeasing the appetites of the peoples of the Continent. That was from a position of strength, not weakness. –“A Time to Appease,” Paul Kennedy, The National Interest
More from TedRoss:
Years of consideration preceding the inclusion of the word “phat” in Random House’s 1996 Compact Unabridged Dictionary:
Scientists created crash helmets that stink when cracked and fruit flies to whom blue light smells delicious.
In Belize, a construction company bulldozed a 2,300-year-old Mayan temple to make road fill.
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