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Pope Francis’s Sexual Revolution, Banning Child Beauty Pageants, Scott’s Drug-Testing Addiction

| September 22, 2013

Pall Mall series of National monuments no. 6, from 1914 (New York Public Library collection).

Pall Mall series of National monuments no. 6, from 1914 (New York Public Library collection).

Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links


Pope Francis’s Sexual Revolution

Pope Francis, sexual liberator.

Pope Francis, sexual liberator.

We’re really taking a shine to this new pope. From The Times: “Six months into his papacy, Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church on Thursday with the publication of his remarks that the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics. His surprising comments came in a lengthy interview in which he criticized the church for putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized. He articulated his vision of an inclusive church, a “home for all” — which is a striking contrast with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the doctrinal defender who envisioned a smaller, purer church. Francis told the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. “We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” The pope’s interview did not change church doctrine or policies, but it instantly changed its tone. His words evoked gratitude and hope from many liberal Catholics who had felt left out in the cold during the papacies of Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, which together lasted 35 years. Some lapsed Catholics suggested on social media a return to the church, and leaders of gay rights and gay Catholic groups called on bishops to abandon their fight against gay marriage. But it left conservative and traditionalist Catholics, and those who have devoted themselves to the struggles against abortion, gay marriage and artificial contraception, on the defensive, though some cast it as nothing new. The interview, kept under wraps for weeks by the Jesuits, was released simultaneously on Thursday morning by 16 Jesuit journals around the world. Francis personally reviewed the Italian transcript, and it was translated by a team into English, said the Rev. James Martin, an editor at large of America.” The full interview translated in English is here.

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Rick Scott’s Drug-Testing Addiction

Stoned on his own executive orders. (© FlaglerLive)

Stoned on his own executive orders. (© FlaglerLive)

From the Associated Press: “Gov. Rick Scott intends to take his fight for random drug tests of tens of thousands of state employees all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a lawyer for the Republican governor told a federal judge Thursday. But Charles Trippe, who was previously Scott’s general counsel and is now in private practice, could not persuade U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro to delay further proceedings in the case while the state appeals. Ungaro said she did not want to become “a political tool” in the controversial issue — and she also said Scott has “probably about zero” chance of winning a Supreme Court case. “I just don’t think it has likelihood of success,” said Ungaro, who previously declared Scott’s January 2011 drug-testing executive order an unconstitutional violation of the workers’ privacy rights. The case affecting some 85,000 state employees as well as many job applicants is back before Ungaro because the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded her April 2012 ruling in was too broad. The appeals court said in May of this year that some workers can legitimately be tested — such as those in law enforcement and sensitive safety jobs — and Ungaro planned to appoint a special master to come up with a proposed list of those positions. […] Ungaro set another hearing for Oct. 11 and urged the two sides to come up with a way forward. For example, the judge suggested the two sides work together on narrowing down which job categories might be exempt from drug testing and which could be covered by it. “I have no desire to see the citizens of the state of Florida exposed to any more expense,” she said. Trippe, however, said the governor’s office may return to the October hearing “with the same position we have today” seeking to delay the case. “That’s fine,” the judge replied. “And, I may deny it.””

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France’s Child Beauty Pageant Ban

The Vogue spread that triggered France's reaction.

The Vogue spread that triggered France’s reaction.

From the BBC: “Parliament in France has moved to ban child beauty pageants on the grounds that they promote the “hyper-sexualisation” of minors. The Senate adopted the bill by 196 votes to 146 on Tuesday evening. It must now be passed by the National Assembly, before becoming law. Organisers of such pageants may face a jail term of up to two years and a fine of 30,000 euros (£25,000; $40,000). The measure was prompted by a row over a photo shoot in Vogue magazine. The photos published in December 2010 showed a girl of 10 with two others, all three in heavy make-up and wearing tight dresses, high heels and expensive jewellery. Vogue defended the pictures, saying they merely portrayed a common fantasy among young girls – to dress like their mother. Parliament heard a report entitled Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality, which called for the ban on beauty competitions for the under-16s. It also recommended other measures, not included in the bill, including a ban on child-size adult clothing such as padded bras and high-heeled shoes.”

And from USA Today: “Such a ban wouldn’t fly in the USA, says sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman, a research associate at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of the new book Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. “Historically and legally, our system defers to parents to make the right decision for their child,” she says. “We see the family as more of a private entity.” Karen Kataline, a mental health professional near Denver who participated in child beauty pageants in the 1960s, says she understands the motivation to ban the competitions, but doesn’t think that’s the answer. The problem “is not just the pageants, it’s the parents” who support and encourage the sexualization of their children, Kataline says. “I’m not against children singing and dancing on stage, but you want them to sing and dance and perform in age-appropriate ways,” she says. “Today, we’ve pushed the envelope to ridiculous degrees.” […] A task force of the American Psychological Association noted that “girls who are sexualized early will tend to gather their self-worth as an adult based on their appearance,” says Cartwright. And there’s also the issue of certain adults who “make the assumption that the girls have the ability to make adult decisions just based on the way they look rather than their actual age.””

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Miss America Racism

From Mother Jones: “I felt terrible for Nina Davuluri this week after she was crowned Miss America 2013, because I knew what was coming. Davuluri is the first Indian-American woman to win the pageant. The moment that special tiara was lowered onto her fabulously coiffed head, a barrage of hateful, outraged, resentful, and predictably inaccurate tweets and posts came hurtling her way, hundreds at a time.

miss america tweets

“And my personal favorite: “WHEN WILL A WHITE WOMAN WIN #MISSAMERICA? Ever??!!” (The first nonwhite pageant winner was Norma Smallwood, of Cherokee descent, in 1926. It wouldn’t happen again until 1984, when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America. Not a bad streak!)”

The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi took it on:

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The American Dream, RIP?

american-dreamLexington writes in The Economist: “COULD America survive the end of the American Dream? The idea is unthinkable, say political leaders of right and left. Yet it is predicted in “Average is Over”, a bracing new book by Tyler Cowen, an economist. Mr Cowen is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 he galvanised Washington with “The Great Stagnation”, in which he argued that America has used up the low-hanging fruit of free land, abundant labour and new technologies. His new book suggests that the disruptive effects of automation and ever-cheaper computer power have only just begun to be felt. It describes a future largely stripped of middling jobs and broad prosperity. An elite 10-15% of Americans will have the brains and self-discipline to master tomorrow’s technology and extract profit from it, he speculates. They will enjoy great wealth and stimulating lives. Others will endure stagnant or even falling wages, as employers measure their output with “oppressive precision”. Some will thrive as service-providers to the rich. A few will claw their way into the elite (cheap online education will be a great leveller), bolstering the idea of a “hyper-meritocracy” at work: this “will make it easier to ignore those left behind”. […] The left is sure that inequality is a recipe for riots. Mr Cowen doubts it. The have-nots will be too engrossed in video games to light real petrol bombs. An ageing population will be rather conservative, he thinks. There will be lots of Tea-Party sorts among the economically left-behind. Aid for the poor will be slashed but benefits for the old preserved. […] Mr Cowen’s main point is plausible: gigantic shifts are under way, and they may be unstoppable. Politicians are skittish about admitting this. Barack Obama calls America’s wealth gap “our great unfinished business”, describing a crisis of inequality decades in the making. […] Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a son of Cuban immigrants, likes to say that had he not been born in post-war America in an era of high social mobility, he would probably be a very opinionated bartender. […] Many voters remember a time when hard work was reliably rewarded with economic security. This was not really true in the 1950s and 60s if you were black or female, but the question still remains: what if Mr Cowen is right? What if the bottom 85% today are mostly doomed to stay there? In a country founded on hope, that would require something like a new social contract. Politicians cannot duck Mr Cowen’s conundrum for ever.” The full column.

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Edward Said: The Last Interview

Najla Said, Edward’s daughter, writes in Salon: “To very smart people who study a lot, Edward Said is the “father of postcolonial studies” or, as he told me once when he insisted I was wasting my college education by taking a course on postmodernism and I told him he didn’t even know what it was: “Know what it is, Najla? I invented it!!!” I still don’t know if he was joking or serious. To others, he is the author of Orientalism, the book that everyone reads at some point in college, whether in history, politics, Buddhism, or literature class. He wrote it when I was four. As he explained once, when I pressed him to put it into simple English: “The basic concept, is that . . . historically, through literature and art, the ‘East,’ as seen through a Western lens, becomes distorted and degraded so that anything ‘other’ than what we Westerners recognize as familiar is not just exotic, mysterious, and sensual but also inherently inferior.” You know, like Aladdin. It’s mainly because of my father that people now say “Asian American” instead of “Oriental.” To other people, he is the symbol of Palestinian self-determination, a champion of human rights, equality, and social justice. A “humanist” who “spoke truth to power.” And then still other people insist he was a terrorist, though anyone who knew him knows that’s kind of like calling Gandhi a terrorist. To me, he was my daddy, a dapper man in three-piece suits tailor-made in London. A cute old guy who yelled at me passionately in his weird sometimes British, sometimes American accent and then (five minutes later) forgot he had been upset; the one who brought me presents from all over the world, talked to me about Jane Eyre—my favorite book when I was twelve—and held me when I cried. He played tennis and squash, drove a Volvo, smoked a pipe, and collected pens. He was a professor. He was my father.” Watch his last interview, from 2004:

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An Orlando Motel’s War on Children

From WFTV: “An Orange County family with children called Eyewitness News for help when the extended state motel they’d been living in for two years told them to find another home. The family lives at the Home Suite Home Extended Stay at Colonial and Primrose drives in Orlando. The family said the motel sent them and other families a letter saying they didn’t want children living there anymore because it plans to convert into a 55+ community. Residents with school-aged children can no longer use the extended stay as a permanent address. […] The owner of the extended stay says one of the reasons she’s making the move is to try to cut down on crime. “It’s been a basic business decision to try to help some of these families move off property and get these families into homes where they belong instead of living and growing inside of a hotel,” owner Dianna Chane said. One resident said she was kicked out with just hours of notice.”

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Philip Roth: The Man Booker Prize Interview

From Philip Roth’s 1984 Paris Review interview with Hermione Lee:

ROTH: I work all day, morning and afternoon, just about every day. If I sit there like that for two or three years, at the end I have a book.
Lee: Do you think other writers work such long hours?
ROTH: I don’t ask writers about their work habits. I really don’t care. Joyce Carol Oates says somewhere that when writers ask each other what time they start working and when they finish and how much time they take for lunch, they’re actually trying to find out “Is he as crazy as I am?” I don’t need that question answered.
Lee: Does your reading affect what you write?
ROTH: I read all the time when I’m working, usually at night. It’s a way of keeping the circuits open. It’s a way of thinking about my line of work while getting a little rest from the work at hand. It helps inasmuch as it fuels the overall obsession.

Watch his 2011 intterview on winning Britain’s Man Booker Prize:

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Soccer Rudeness Lands in America

you-suck-assholeFrom The Times: “For decades, soccer officials in the United States simply wanted some fans in their stadiums. Now they have them, and some of those fans have brought an unexpected problem: a vulgar chant, in the vein of more notoriously rabid soccer fans in other countries. Hardly clever, it is only three words [You Suck Asshole] — an insult directed at the opposing goalkeeper — but enough to give M.L.S. officials fits as they hear it spill over into live television broadcasts. The chant’s simplicity is what makes it appealing or appalling, depending on your perspective. It has been heard this season at Major League Soccer games in Seattle; Sandy, Utah; Harrison, N.J.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Columbus, Ohio, among other places. It has been shouted by thousands of fans at men’s national team games, too. […] It is deployed in one specific game situation: when the opposing team’s goalkeeper prepares to restart the game on a goal kick, there is a crescendo of percussive noise and swelling voices. When the player then puts his foot through the ball, the fans yell out the phrase in unison. The three-word chant, known as the Y.S.A. chant, is a more vulgar expression of “You suck, jerk.” It has deep but unclear roots, dating back at least a decade. Its form and usage are similar to ones used in South America, Central America and Europe, suggesting that early M.L.S. fans — who borrow heavily at first from international fan cultures — adopted the structure and added their own choice words. “It was a way to be antagonistic, in a tongue-in-cheek way,” said Dave Hoyt, a former president of Portland’s fan group, Timbers Army. “It gets people’s attention.” […] Its obscenity is the chief concern for its harshest critics. Others, like Hoyt, simply find it played out. And some, particularly those exposed to overseas soccer stadiums, may wonder what the fuss is about. Anti-Semitic chants last season at a Premier League stadium in England caused a scandal. Racist chants directed at black players continue to be a scourge for many European leagues. Set against these examples, the American chanting may seem harmless. But Jerome de Bontin, a former president of the French club Monaco, who was hired last year as the general manager of the Red Bulls, said residual European hooligan culture was nothing to aspire to. He said he appreciated that American fans seemed interested in games rather than creating a ruckus and was disappointed when he heard the chant for the first time.” The full story.

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The Seductions of Sad Music

Ai Kawakami in The Times: “Sadness is an emotion we usually try to avoid. So why do we choose to listen to sad music? […] Aristotle famously suggested the idea of catharsis: that by overwhelming us with an undesirable emotion, music (or drama) somehow purges us of it. […] In a study published this summer in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, my colleagues and I explored the idea that “musical emotion” encompasses both the felt emotion that the music induces in the listener and the perceived emotion that the listener judges the music to express. By isolating these two overlapping sets of emotions and observing how they related to each other, we hoped to gain a better understanding of sad music. […] We found, as anticipated, that felt emotion did not correspond exactly to perceived emotion. Although the sad music was both perceived and felt as “tragic” (e.g., gloomy, meditative and miserable), the listeners did not actually feel the tragic emotion as much as they perceived it. Likewise, when listening to sad music, the listeners felt more “romantic” emotion (e.g., fascinated, dear and in love) and “blithe” emotion (e.g., merry, animated and feel like dancing) than they perceived. Something similar happened with the happy music: perceived blithe emotions were rated higher than their felt counterparts. […] in everyday life we typically experience emotions that have a direct connection to whatever object or situation gives rise to them. But when we listen to sad music (or watch a sad movie, or read a sad novel), we are inoculated from any real threat or danger that the music (or movie or novel) represents. If this is true, what we experience when we listen to sad music might be thought of as “vicarious emotions.” Here, there is no object or situation that induces emotion directly, as in regular life. Instead, the vicarious emotions are free from the essential unpleasantness of their genuine counterparts, while still drawing force from the similarity between the two.”

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4 Responses for “Pope Francis’s Sexual Revolution, Banning Child Beauty Pageants, Scott’s Drug-Testing Addiction”

  1. Joey Paparazzi says:

    yet some priests will go on doing there thing as centuries ago.

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3971522

  2. brian says:

    this pope is nutz..he will be recalled soon..out to pasture he will go!!

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    I am not even a believer in organized religion, but many,many people are. . . I like the thinking of this new, more open minded pope.

  4. Prescient33 says:

    The Pope has not changed the teachings of the Church on Homosexuals or Abortions. His comments were an iteration of the Church’s historic views on homosexuals, i.e., homosexual acts, sodomy, etc. were, are, and still remain sins. They will as long as the Church exists. What he called attention to was the Church’s position towards the homosexuals, which was, is and will be to love and accept the person, but abhor and detest the sin. Homosexuals are welcome to seek redemption in the Church, and Reconciliation through confession. Single sex marriage is still proscribed.
    Abortions still violate the basic precepts of the Church; The Holy Father seeks to tone down the rhetoric of some pro lifers so as not to discourage those souls who have made the horrific mistake of killing the unborn from seeking redemption through the Holy Mother Church in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
    He has not left Conservative Catholics “scrambling” as he has not changed the essentials of these matters one iota.

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