Tag Archives: prison

Does the Reaction to the Stanford Rapist Signal a Cultural Shift?

By now you’ve probably heard that Stanford student Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to only 6 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman at a party. You’ve probably also heard his father shamelessly attempt to downplay Turner’s actions as “20 minutes of action”.

Hopefully, you’ve also read the letter written by the rape survivor. In it, she breaks down many of the myths around rape, myths Turner’s defence used to attack her testimony and represent Turner as some kind of victim instead. Her heartbreaking personal account has broken down the defences of almost everyone who has read it (except Turner and his father, it would seem). According to Buzzfeed, one of the main sites to release her letter, her words have “gone viral” in a way few conversations about sexual assault ever do.

And as the word has spread, almost everyone has gotten behind this brave woman. Her story has brought light to the problem of systemic injustices, like light penalties for many cases of sexual assault and disproportionate penalties based on racial or economic background.

More than anything her story has prompted a united public outrage. Every comment I have read expresses distain and anger towards Turner and sympathy for his victim. Even internet trolls who would normally find a reason to challenge the victim’s story (i.e. some members of the Men’s Rights Reddit page) admit that “outrage over this issue is legitimate” (although their comments inevitably lead back to criticizing feminism).

In some ways it’s encouraging to witness the attack on Brock Turner. It seems like we’re experiencing a massive shift in the way we talk about rape and sexual violence. As this story has unfolded we’ve seen few if any attempts to slut shame or victim blame in the media or public conversation.

As glad as I am that this conversation has come out in favour of the victim, I can’t help but wonder if the public condemnation of Turner actually signals for a yearning for justice, or if perhaps other factors are at play. I’ve been struggling with two questions in particular. Continue reading

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2 Broke Girls, S5E17 “And the Show and Don’t Tell”: A TV Review

showandtell

In a little bit of a continuation from last week’s review, tonight’s episode could easily be summed up with “Max and Caroline’s friendship is tested very little, and unsurprisingly manages to remain intact.” While that’s par for the course for quite a few episodes along the years, with a bit of a shakeup in their relationship occurring every so often, what’s interesting is the showrunner’s decision to turn to this narrative just as the status quo is reestablished.

Yes, Max and Caroline are back to waitressing at the diner, and almost immediately the impending $250K payday from Caroline selling her movie rights starts being thrown around. The thing is, it immediately starts to collide with the goal of the first few seasons: the girls’ cupcake business. It’s so strange to see that being brought up again, especially when it hasn’t been brought up since Episode 10 of this season [and even then, it was simply to have Max bump into an old friend].

Their cupcake business has played so small a part that when the studio audience gasps in response to Sophie asking Max and Caroline if they “know any bakers” I was initially confused. Why would they be offended by that question? When was the last time they baked anything, let alone sold any baked goods at all? Continue reading

Can’t Hang ‘Em Thrice: Dzhokhar and the Death Penalty

Friday saw a federal jury sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the culprits behind the horrific bombing of the 2013 Boston marathon, to death by lethal injection. When I saw the headline pop up on my news feed, all I could think to myself was-

What’s the point?

Readers, no one- even the defendant- disputes Tsarnaev’s guilt. Tsarnaev’s cowardly attack murdered three innocent people and wounded over a quarter thousand others. That Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan (killed in a standoff with police shortly after the bombing) are monsters is likewise not in question.

But with all of that in mind- the guilt, the heinous nature of the act- what’s a lethal injection going to solve?

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the death penalty on this blog, but I think there’s hardly a better example of how fundamentally useless the thing is. And don’t for a minute think this is some bleeding-heart outcry against killing- I’ve got no problem with that, and I actually think we don’t resort to violence nearly as fast or often as we should.

I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

What are we trying to acomplish here?

It’s Not Justice

It’s not.

Tsarnaev murdered three people and mutilated hundreds of others. If we take a balance-the-scales approach to justice (which I don’t- but that’s another discussion), then we’d have to find some way of killing and reviving him three times and subject him to years of physical and emotional torture.

We can’t do that.

Morally or practically.

You can pick whichever you want, but it’s just not going to happen. If you want to you make justice your sticking point, then fantastic. And I don’t say that with an iota of sarcasm, I really and truly to laud that. But again, this isn’t justice. Continue reading

Why Ben Carson Shouldn’t Be President

The past two decades has not been kind to American Christians.

In spite of the Bush presidency, largely supported by Evangelicals, the former administration’s efforts were focused on the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than at home. In 2000 only a single state recognized same-sex marriage. Today only 12 states do not, and gay rights have rapidly moved from a fringe issue to a widely accepted stance. Support for Roe V. Wade has seen a slow but steady increase, and belief in evolution has seen similar growth- even among conservatives.

With these defeats, it would be understandable if conservative Christians claim that their once mighty “Shining city upon a hill” has fallen into disarray, with the forces of secularism closing in for the final siege.

Enter Dr. Ben Carson, 2016 presidential hopeful, and, to hear many talk, one pale horse shy of the second coming.

Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S4E11 “And the Crime Ring”: A TV Review

crimering

Is this 2 Broke Girls‘ most daring episode? I say that, of course, because this episode features Max and Caroline spending a very short amount in jail, a place that is interchangeably referred to by a handful of characters as “prison”. What I’m referring to is the very reason, as it so happens, that I missed reviewing this last night as I usually do:

It’s Orange is the New Black.

Arguably Netflix’s most well-known original series [sorry, House of Cards], Orange is the New Black has been a cultural phenomenon that has only been hindered, however briefly, by the extreme pause between seasons caused by their released in their entirety all at once. Incarcerated women now bring to mind Flaca [sorry, Piper, we all have our favourites] and the other inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary and the hardships and comforts their stays have awarded them. There’s a lot of pop culture baggage surrounding the topic, and yesterday night . . . well . . .

Yesterday night was your average twenty-some minutes of 2 Broke Girls. Continue reading

2014’s Cultural Battleground – Kat’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

jianghomeshibannerThe Jian Ghomeshi scandal was a big deal for most Canadians. Ghomeshi felt like someone we all knew, someone who had been a regular presence in our homes (and cars) as long as he had hosting Q on the CBC.

In October, the CBC put pressure on Jian Ghomeshi to go on a leave of absence. Shortly afterwards, he wrote a post on Facebook accusing the CBC of firing him over his preference for rough (but consensual sex). Many fans believed Ghomeshi when he claimed the women who had accused him were liars who just wanted attention.

Given his popularity, I understood why people jumped to defend him when the first few allegations of sexual violence came out, but there was something about his Facebook post that just felt wrong. It seemed unlikely that anyone, much less more than one person, would make a sexual assault accusation just for attention. As I started to do my own research on the topic, I quickly realized that false rape reports are so rare that they are almost non-existent, and that the tendency to believe Ghomeshi over his (at the time) anonymous victims spoke to a much bigger systemic issue.

injusticesystembannerIt’s really hard to care about how terrible our justice system is unless someone close to you has gone through it. In this post, I discuss some of the things I noticed when I visited someone close to me during his stay in jail. Despite firmly believing that this person deserved to go to jail, that experience opened my eyes to the way prison (and the bureaucracies surrounding it) take damaged people and make them ever worse. As someone who works in special education, it made me even more angry to realize just how many of the adults in prison are individuals with special needs.

problemwithpuritybannerThe conversation around the purity movement tends to be very divisive; feminist websites like Jezebel have called it creepy, while many Christian communities staunchly defend the practice. Since I consider myself both a Christian and a feminist, I wrote this post to point out the really great intentions that are (usually) behind the purity movement, while still drawing attention to the damage it can cause.

duckdynastybannerAfter the Duck Dynasty star spoke out against homosexuality and was kicked off his show, my Facebook wall started to fill up with “I support Phil” memes. This made me really, really angry.

Having grown up Evangelical, I understand how many Christians feel they cannot accept homosexuality as something that honours God. Personally, I no longer accept that dogma, but I can understand it. I didn’t even write this post to argue with that branch of theology. I wrote this post because I was furious that Christians are happy to defend a millionaire because he broke his contract and got kicked off his TV show, but are unwilling to acknowledge that homosexuals are being killed and actually persecuted all around the world.

voluntouristbannerI’ve written many posts that address the Christian community. I do this because I still consider myself a member of that community, and I want to call out the issues that I believe are distracting from the message of love we claim to be sharing. Despite my many critiques of the church, some of the most amazing people I’ve known are Christians. I wrote this post about my experience living in a missionary community in Niger, where I was surrounded by people who I truly respect.

This post also addresses “voluntourism”, since my own selfish motivation to move overseas was something I felt personally convicted about during my stay in Africa. Recently, however, the discussion of the voluntourism trend has made westerners afraid to express interest in foreign aide at all. I believe both extremes can be damaging to international relationships.


Looking back, it’s sometimes scary to think about how much I have shared with you guys. It’s always a vulnerable step to publicize our personal opinions, it’s even more so with details about our personal lives. Intimidating as it can be, I’ve loved how many amazing discussions the blog has opened up in my life. Your comments (in person and online) have helped me reevaluate my own biases, and challenged me to think more deeply about the social, religious, and political issues we love to debate here at Culture War Reporters.

So here’s to a fantastic year. I can’t wait to see what the next one brings.

– Kat

The Siege of Gaza

There’s a prevailing idea that the Middle East and its history is nothing but a quagmire of conflicts and wars too ancient and complicated for all but the most scholarly. This simply isn’t true, and 9 times out of 10 it’s just a flimsy excuse for one’s ignorance on the people and politics of civilization’s cradle. The truth is, the Middle East isn’t anymore complex than any other part of the world, and by the end of this post, I’m hoping to have proven that.

This is as simple as it gets, people.

Let’s talk about a little stretch of beach called Gaza.

A fifth of the size of Los Angeles, and with a population of 1.7 million, the Gaza Strip is the world’s largest open-air prison.

That’s right, a prison. We can call it a “territory” or a “reservation” or dress it up any number of ways- at the end of the day, a gigantic holding cell is all that it is.

Continue reading