The online trial of Nate Parker

Illustration by Jason Reed

Published: The Daily Dot (August 25, 2016)

Is it OK to separate the moral flaws of an artist from the quality of their art? The answer is yes—so long as you understand the consequences.

It’s become an American trending topic that we can’t ignore across our Facebook feeds. When we find out that Mel Gibson said anti-Semitic things, and Michael Richards used the N-word, or that Johnny Depp is alleged to have beaten his wife, we’re naturally expected to chime in. Sometimes it’s an easy decision: Bill Cosby has been rightly turned into personae non grata following overwhelming evidence that he’s a serial rapist.

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Tired of Democrats vs. Republicans? Here’s how to fix it

DonkeyHotey/Election 2016

Published: Salon (August 23, 2016)

I’ve been second to none among progressive pundits urging the sane world to unify behind Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. I’m not going to repeat those arguments here. (If you’re reading this article, the chances are you know them anyway.) But it’s time to acknowledge the major logical flaw in any lesser-of-two-evils position:

If we progressives want meaningful change in our society and the larger world, how can we achieve it when both major parties are so flawed?

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Review for “Hell or High Water”

Photo: Flickr – Alberto Ollo/”Bridges”

Published: The Good Men Project (August 23, 2016)

co-author Liskula Cohen

2016 has been an especially political year when it comes to the movies. It seems like each of the major presidential candidates has had a major cinematic release to accompany the themes of their campaign: The unapologetically feminist“Ghostbusters” is linked to the same cultural zeitgeist fueling Hillary Clinton’s campaign, schlockmeister Michael Bay’s “13 Hours” exists for the Donald Trump supporters who crave artificial machismo and conspiracy theorizing in equal doses, and “Captain America: Civil War” offers a libertarian view on regulatory state powers that I personally deplored even as I admired the film’s many other strengths.

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Generation Trump

Photo: Flickr - Michael Vadon/"Donald Trump Sr. at #FITN in Nashua, NH"

Published: Salon (August 17, 2016)

To understand precisely how Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has changed America, one need only look at a new pair of surveys. In April the Southern Poverty Law Center discovered that the Trump campaign has triggered an unprecedented wave of bigoted bullying in American schools: More than two-thirds of the teachers surveyed have had immigrant, Latino and Muslim students express fear about what will happen to them or their families if Trumps wins, while more than one-third have directly witnessed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant prejudice.

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About my positive review for “Suicide Squad”

Photo: Duchess Flux/"Daddy's Lil' Monster"

Published: The Daily Dot (August 16, 2016)

It’s a strange feeling, having written one of the few positive articles about Suicide Squad.

If the Internet community can learn anything from “Suicide Squad,” it is that online culture breeds a specific kind of overly-informed and excessively quantifying approach to the art of criticism. This has become apparent in several ways just with the Internet’s response to “Suicide Squad,” although it can also be traced to our own creative tendencies as writers and our access to unprecedented quantities of information about the filmmaking process itself. While this allows for a richer discussion about popular entertainment like movies, it can also result in a form of mass groupthink. When we start to view something inherently subjective and personal, like artistic taste, through a mindset that instinctively defers to so-called experts, we risk forfeiting our own judgment as independent individuals.

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Kevin Smith is right about online bullies

Photo: Flickr – Anime Nut/”IMG_0735 – Kevin Smith”

Published: The Good Men Project (August 16, 2016)

Simply put, cyber bullies deserve to be ridiculed because they are cowards.

I suppose I can exclude the rare troll or hater who actually attaches his or her real name to their verbal bile. There are even a handful of individuals who make their careers out of trolling (Perez Hilton and Milo Yiannapoulos come to mind). That said, the vast majority of people who bully or harass online do so anonymously. The reason is obvious: They don’t want to be held accountable for what they say. Even though the very act of harassing another person presumes a position of superiority, the cyber bullies clearly know that they would be shamed for what they say. The only way they can keep the focus on their target instead of themselves is by cowering behind their keyboards. This makes them pathetic… and the more flamboyantly they attack their targets, the more it becomes clear that the joke is actually on them.

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Why Trump’s “Second Amendment” insinuation was an abhorrent stunt straight out of the NRA’s playbook

Photo: Flickr - DonkeyHotey/"Donald Trump - Caricature (Painting)"

Published: Salon (August 11, 2016)

It was reprehensible for Donald Trump to insinuate that his pro-gun followers use violence to thwart Hillary Clinton. That said, was he really out of lockstep with what the NRA and other pro-gun groups have been saying for years?

Just to be clear, this is what Trump said:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Considering that this is a man who has already called on a foreign superpower to hack his opponent’s email server, it’s hard to blame Trump’s critics for sensing that he would transgress the bounds of propriety yet again by threatening violence. Besides, he didn’t just call for the “Second Amendment people” to galvanize in opposition to Clinton’s judicial picks or donate money to his campaign. First he characterized the event of a Clinton election as a hopeless situation (“nothing you can do folks”) and then suggested that Americans who believe in gun rights could handle it by … Well, he trailed off right there for a reason.

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