2 Ways Homophobes Will Cope with Post-Obergefell America

Published: Good Men Project (June 30, 2015), Salon (July 4, 2015), Interview on LeGrande Green (August 4, 2015)

SCOTUS’ decision transformed the country, but don’t expect its opponents to go quietly into that good night

For the sake of argument, let’s take it as self-evident that Obergefell v. Hodges—the Supreme Court case that declared it unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages—will forever change how this country talks about gay rights.

There are obvious comparisons between this ruling and Brown v. Board of Educationthe Supreme Court case that deemed segregation to be unconstitutional. Within a few years of the highest bench in the land requiring all states to integrate, it became socially unacceptable to openly advocate a return to segregation. Hence when George Wallace, one of the most famous segregationists of the era, decided to run for president in 1968, he tapped into racial prejudices through proxy issues, a sort of “code,” that included racialized references to issues ranging from crime to welfare policy (Wallace won almost 13.5% of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes, both extraordinarily high for a third-party candidate). read more

“#LoveWins on #MarriageEquality Because of One Brave Man: Justice Anthony Kennedy

Published: Good Men Project (June 26, 2015)

The four liberal judges on the Supreme Court were expected to support marriage equality, but the fifth is going to take a lot of flak for it. A doff of the hat to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

From a strictly political standpoint, it is a truly remarkable thing that homosexuals throughout America will be allowed to marry. In these hyper-partisan times, we shouldn’t be surprised that the four liberal judges cast their lot with the right side of history. That said, they were joined by a courageous conservative, and every supporter of marriage equality needs to know his name:

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Spoiler alert: I’m going to close this article with the final paragraph of Kennedy’s brief, which he wrote on behalf of the majority that upheld marriage equality rights. It’s so beautiful that it’s gone viral (a rare thing indeed for Supreme Court prose). But first… read more

Confessions of a (Diet) Cokehead

Published: Good Men Project (June 25, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa discusses his love of soft drinks… and how he was tricked into believing they were safe.

Until recently I’d never seen Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” ad… but then again, I didn’t need to. I’ve always considered the sensation of having an ice cold drink slide down your throat to be one of life’s greatest simple pleasures, and among the numerous beverages out there, my preference has always been for 20 oz. bottle of Diet Coke. Some may gravitate to it because it claims to contain zero calories (although if this were true, wouldn’t Coke Zero be superfluous?) but for me the appeal has more to do with the taste than any dubious health benefits. A Diet Coke has just the right combination of sweetness and bitterness to please my palate,  particularly on humid summer days (such as the one captured in the picture above). read more

Solitary confinement is torture

Published: Daily Dot (June 24, 2015)

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution may not have as much political cachet as the First or Second, but it’s a safe bet you’re familiar with one of its most important phrases (italics added for emphasis): “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

This brings us to Barrett Brown, a self-described “mild-mannered freelance journalist, activist, and satirist” who was sentenced to 63 months in prison last January on a number of charges related to his work with the controversial hacktivist group Anonymous. His incarceration is troubling enough in its own right (Reporters Without Borders cited it as a main reason for downgrading America’s ranking on freedom in the press), but now his social media followers are reporting that prison officials have moved him to solitary confinement. read more

This Is What the Confederate Flag Actually Looks Like

Published: Question of the Day (June 23, 2015)

As the debate rages on over the Confederate flag’s appearance on government land in South Carolina, it’s important to remember one thing: For all the talk of honoring the Palmetto State’s rich history, that flag isn’t the one they fought under during the Civil War.In fact, there is no single flag that consistently united the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. The three national flag patterns included the Stars and Bars (adopted March 4, 1861), which contained a circle of eight white stars in a blue square on the upper-left corner, surrounded by two red stripes with a white one in the center; the Stainless Banner (adopted May 1, 1863), which used the Army of Northern Virginia’s battle flag (what we commonly think of as “the” Confederate flag today) in the upper left surrounded by white; and the Blood Stained Banner (adopted March 4, 1865), which slightly modified the Stainless Banner by adding a red stripe down the right side. read more

Dylann Roof isn’t mentally ill – he’s a terrorist

Published: Daily Dot (June 22, 2015)

Why do we insist on claiming that Dylann Roof was mentally ill? In a recent segment on Fox News, the outlet blamed Roof’s actions on a “troubled past,” arguing that mental illness tends to be “swept under the rug” in these cases, but the exact true is opposite: We tend to use mental illness in place of a more troubling reality—Dylann Roof was a terrorist.

“We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness,” writes Arthur Chu of Salon, “and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.” Although we know very little about Roof, all existing information points to him being a militant racist who believed a high-profile act of violence would terrorize others into respecting his white supremacist agenda. read more

The Charleston Shooter and the History of True Believers

Published: Good Men Project (June 20, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa explains how terrorists justify their horrific actions and what we need to do to stop them.

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I will only mention the name of the Charleston shooter once: Dylann Roof. And although I shall provide you with a few details about his biography, his identity can be aptly summed up with a single word: Terrorist. That is because a terrorist is, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, someone who “uses violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”

We have yet to receive any evidence that the Charleston terrorist was mentally ill, despite rampant speculation to that effect. Not all the information is in, but from what we do know (including from the terrorist himself), we can reasonably conclude that this was a desperate youth who found a sense of greater life purpose by subscribing to a racist ideology. He is a 21-year-old white man from Lexington, SC who attended White Knoll High School for less than two years before dropping out. Before then, he moved between at least three different school districts within a span of five years. He had already amassed a criminal record before the shooting in Charleston, and as Time Magazine reports, “in the picture featured on the Facebook page [attributed to the terrorist], he is wearing a jacket bearing images of the flags of apartheid-era South African and the Republic of Rhodesia, the name for Zimbabwe when it was run by a postcolonial white minority in the 1970s.” read more