- Everything Wrong With What John Grisham Said – There’s not much for me to add to this. Grisham said some reeeeeeealy messed up shit about childhood sexual assault and was vaguely racist about it to boot.
Content Note: This post contains Grisham’s words and his defence of child abusers as well as discussion of the topic itself. A lot of this is very upsetting so please approach with caution.
It’s pretty disheartening that I even have to write something like this because it should be common sense to know that author John Grisham’s thoughts on how men who view sexually abusive images of children should be treated more leniently by the legal system are not only wrong but pretty dangerous. Sadly, if the internet has taught me nothing else, it’s that some people will jump through hoops to defend the indefensible. Grisham predictably went into PR mode and apologised, but the damage is done. It probably won’t affect his staggering book sales (275m books over the course of a 25 year career), but it has brought up a mirror to many preconceived notions and damaging assumptions made in regards to abusive images of children (which I refuse to label ‘child porn’. Pornography is supposed to include consent. Children do not consent to this). To show just how wrong Grisham is, let’s break down, line by line, his claims, and the resulting apology.
- Publishing While Black: A Scratch Roundtable – A fabulous roundtable discussion with black writers and editors about navigating the overwhelmingly white publishing world.
In the publishing industry, most of the gatekeepers come from a place of race and class privilege. How does this skewed power dynamic affect the careers of writers of color? Scratch invited our panelists to have a conversation about their experiences as people who walk through those “gates” every day. Novelist and essayist Kiese Laymon, journalist and essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, poet Harmony Holiday, and editor Chris Jackson (Spiegel & Grau) discuss inclusion, community, and how things are or are not different for writers of color in today’s media landscape. Scratch editor Manjula Martin moderates. This conversation was edited for clarity and length.
- A Disability History of America – A quick tumblr post about a history book offers an interesting story about Native American sign language.
A young child born deaf in an indigenous North American nation grew up nearly always being able to communicate with her community. She would not be physically segregated. The expectation would be that if she survived the vagaries of life to which all were exposed, she could find and enjoy a partner, and she would eventually grow old as a treasured elder who tickled and guided the children around her. If all were in balance, she would find her gift—perhaps weaving, perhaps gathering particularly delicious herbs—and share that with her community, who would then share their gifts with her. A successful healing ceremony, if one was needed, would balance and resolve whatever unease might have existed—but certainly no one would expect the young girl to hear, for such a result was unnecessary.
- Lazy coverage of Gamergate is only feeding this abusive campaign – Perhaps one of the most destructive lies we’ve taken to heart is “the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” In an effort to be “unbiased,” our media often just ends up giving undue weight.
Many discussions on the topic have opened by suggesting that the answer is somewhere in the middle, that there’s good points made on both sides, that the majority of gamergate is interested in ethical journalism. But none of that is true. Nick Davies would call this “false balance” – the flawed assumption that if there are two identifiable sides, conflicts between them must be presented as an equal debate.
“It’s a neat trick,” says Wagner. “Agitate bare-facedly for the absolute necessity of developers investing the vast majority of their resources in games pitched at the intellectual and emotional level of a 16-year-old suburban masturbator, and no one beyond the gaming world is going to take you very seriously. But make it a story about an oppressive and hypocritical media conspiracy, and all of a sudden you have a cause, a side in a ‘debate’.”
- HOW TO NOT WEAR A RACIST HALLOWEEN COSTUME THIS YEAR: A SIMPLE GUIDE FOR WHITE PEOPLE – Mikki Kendall wrote a helpful guide for white people deciding on a Halloween costume.
Halloween is rapidly approaching, so naturally, you need a costume. Ideally, something amazing and creative and reflective of your personality and interests. Now maybe you really love sugar skulls, or those fake headdresses most often seen on very white people roaming in random fields listening to painfully hip bands; maybe you think that “sexy geisha” costume is perfect for trick-or-treating. Here’s the thing: That urge you feel to celebrate October 31 by slapping on a bindi (sigh — the forehead dot), painting your face brown, or talking in a fake accent? It’s not cute — it’s racist. While there are a million ways to be racist on any day of the year, it seems that Halloween — when we dress up as something other than ourselves, thus expressing our version of all kinds of identities we don’t own — is a day that is as particularly fraught with ways to be racist as it is with white people who clearly don’t understand what racism is, or what it means to be racist.
- Female Soccer Players Team Up to Fight FIFA’s “Second-Class” Treatment – Because FIFA is the worst, it awarded the women’s World Cup to Canada, with all turf pitches. Jessica Luther writes about how the elite women are suing for a change in venue.
Back in April, US national soccer team forward Sydney Leroux posted a picture of her torn-up, bloody legs on Twitter with the words, “This is why soccer should be played on grass!” Leroux was referring to the fact that she had just finished a game played on artificial turf. Her statement was part of a brewing controversy in women’s soccer: next year’s World Cup championship in Canada will be played on artificial turf instead of grass, the latter being the surface professional players prefer. Future men’s World Cup games, by the way, will be played on grass. That disparity prompted a group of the world’s best soccer players to file a lawsuit along with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the world governing body of professional soccer) and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA). The charge? That forcing women to play on artificial turf is gender discrimination.