Let’s at Least Talk Realistically about Guns

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In a comment on my recent post “Four Things to Know about the Debate over Guns,” a reader quoted John F. Kennedy and George Washington on the value of an armed citizenry as a hedge against government tyranny.

Yet, in the post itself, I never suggest eliminating gun ownership. I simply present statistics. Though I do agree that those statistics should be a cause for great concern, the person who posted the comment did the extrapolating, not me.

In actuality, the reader may have been responding as much to another comment on my post as to the post itself, but we have all seen these sorts of canned responses to any suggestion of “gun control.” Apparently, those who see government tyranny lurking around every corner have no similar concerns about NRA indoctrination.

In any case, some sort of modest restrictions on access to unlimited firepower are now clearly needed because…

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Self-Promotion Indistinguishable from Stupidity

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, is desperate to attract any acknowledgement of, never mind genuine interest in, his presidential ambitions. So, it is hardly a surprise that he would insert himself into the debate over gun access following the mass murder at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

Never mind that Jindal’s own state has the most unrestricted access to guns, the highest rate of gun violence, and the highest rate of gun deaths in the nation. When the father of the Oregon murderer spoke publicly on the tragedy and expressed great dismay that anyone should be able to acquire an extensive arsenal of guns and ammo as his son had done in a relatively short period ahead of the murders, Jindal saw his opportunity to be both pro-gun and anti-immigrant in the same breath.

Jindal must have immediately taken note of the fact that the father of the Oregon murderer…

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Distinguishing between Tolerance and Intolerance Used to Be Easier

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

John Wilson and April Kelly-Woessner have been having a very thought-provoking exchange on the relative tolerance or intolerance evident in the views of today’s young adults in comparison to earlier generations at that age.

Somewhere in the mix of all of these issues, one probably has to account for the broader cultural influence of a Far Right rhetorical strategy that has become commonplace over the last several decades, but has become much exaggerated since Obama was elected president.

In other posts to this blog, there has been a discussion of what a “balanced” viewpoint means—and, more specifically, a discussion of the media’s conflation of fair coverage of all viewpoints with an almost mathematically equal coverage of all viewpoints. As much as anything else, this practice has made the lunatic fringe seem much closer to the mainstream than it has in most periods in our recent national history.

That rhetorical strategy…

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Power Rankings of Presidential Candidates

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Each week during the NFL season, Business Insider publishes power rankings not just of the NFL teams but of the quarterbacks leading those teams.

This fall, Business Insider has started publishing weekly power rankings of the presidential candidates, complete with the candidate’s polling averages nationally and in the earliest primary states, as well as an indication of whether his or her stock is rising, falling, or neutral.

Here are the presidential power rankings for the week of September 29:

  1. Rick Santorum
  2. Bobby Jindal
  3. Lindsay Graham
  4. Martin O’Malley
  5. Chris Christie
  6. Mike Huckabee
  7. Rand Paul
  8. Bernie Sanders
  9. John Kasich
  10. Ted Cruz
  11. Joe Biden
  12. Carly Fiorina
  13. Jeb Bush
  14. Marco Rubio
  15. Ben Carson
  16. Donald Trump
  17. Hillary Clinton

I am guessing that you scanned the entire list and that you started making editorial comments as you did so—e.g. Chris Christie isn’t doing any better than Martin O’Malley? Why is Bernie Sanders only ranked 10th

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Four Things to Know about the Debate over Guns

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

1. Who Is Getting Killed with Guns and Why

 NRA 1

2. The Dramatic Increase in Gun Sales in the U.S.


3. Where the NRA Now Generates More than Half of Its Revenue

Here, according to Walter Hickey in an article published in Business Insider, is a breakdown of where the NRA generates its revenue:

“In its early days, the National Rifle Association was a grassroots social club that prided itself on independence from corporate influence.

“While that is still part of the organization’s core function, today less than half of the NRA’s revenues come from program fees and membership dues.

“The bulk of the group’s money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.

“Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom

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Let’s Hope That It Is Harder to Get Elected President than It Is to Get into Heaven

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I know that the heading to this post may sound somewhat blasphemous, but if the Calvinistic or Puritan notion of the “Elect” has now gotten so narrow that the opposite is true, we are all basically screwed and heaven is kind of like most of Montana or Wyoming or Alaska, at least in terms of its population density.

This past week, Ben Carson has come under fire for suggesting that Islamic beliefs may be incompatible with American values (though I don’t think that he ever managed to say it as straightforwardly or as articulately as I have done so in this sentence).

Now, Mike Huckabee has seemingly tried to synthesize elements of Ben Carson’s Islamophobia with elements of Donald Trump’s birtherism by suggesting that one’s performance as president—one’s fitness for the presidency—is tied to the genuineness of one’s religious beliefs, to the degree to which one’s religious beliefs are integral…

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Wright State University to Host the First Presidential Debate in Fall 2016

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This is the press release from Wright State University:

“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced today that Wright State University has been selected to host the first debate in fall 2016 prior to the November general election.

“The debate will be held Sept. 26, 2016, at the Wright State University Nutter Center.

“’I could not be any prouder of our university and the fact that the Commission on Presidential Debates has entrusted Wright State to host such an important event,’ said Wright State University President David R. Hopkins. ‘The Commission had the daunting challenge of selecting just a few institutions and the fact that Wright State was selected is very gratifying and humbling. I am confident that our university will excel in supporting the Commission and represent our students, faculty and staff, community, and the State of Ohio in a way that will make us all proud. This is a…

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That Was Then; This is Now: Part 2

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This is a re-post from Ana Fores-Tamayo’s’ blog Adjunct Justice [http://adjunct-justice.blogspot.com/].

Given that the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States has moved to the forefront during this year’s still nascent presidential campaign, and given that much of the discussion of immigration has been quite generalized and abstract, this sort of personalized perspective on the contemporary experience seems all the more necessary and valuable.

Part 1 is available at: http://academeblog.org/2015/09/17/that-was-then%CD%BE-this-is-now-part-1/


So that’s why we moved to Montana, and that’s why we went off to Minnesota afterward — when my dad got his first teaching job — to a wee bit trailer farm out in the boondocks. The nearest town of 1000 people loomed 7 miles away from our lonely tree farm, the only place we could afford to pay.

Ana Fores Photo 1 

My Winter Childhood, © Dinorah Fores

In North Branch, Minnesota, my dad began to teach…

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Offering Non-Partisan Alternatives to the Relentless Tax Cutting Promoted by ALEC and the Club for Growth

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The Ohio Conference provides some financial support to One Ohio Now, a non-partisan group advocating common-sense tax policies that actually meet the needs of our state—that provide sufficient funding of our state’s public institutions, public services, and physical and digital infrastructures.

Yesterday, I came across the following news item reporting that a similar group has now been formed in West Virginia:

Kabler, Phil. “Coalition Argues for Tax Changes `That Work.’: Charleston Gaztte-Mail [WV] 16 Sep. 2015: C, 1.

Offering a counterpoint to the ongoing meetings of the legislative Joint Committee on Tax Reform, a coalition of education, faith, labor and community-based organizations called on legislators Tuesday to pursue tax changes that they said would benefit all West Virginians.

Declaring “you can’t cut your way to prosperity, Rick Wilson of the American Friends Service Committee said, “We need a tax system that invests in things that work, like education, infrastructure and…

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How Might Roland Barthes Have Explained Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

When I read the headline, “This French Philosopher Is The Only One Who Can Explain The Donald Trump Phenomenon” and then realized that the “French philosopher” was Roland Barthes, I exclaimed, Wow!?! Or maybe it was, Wo!?!

And this item did not even appear in some sort of academic newsletter or other publication focused on academia such as the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Education.

It was published, instead, by ThinkProgress. The author, Judd Legum, connects Barthes and Trump in this manner:

“You won’t find Roland Barthes on the Sunday morning roundtables dissecting the presidential race. Barthes is a French philosopher who died in 1980. But his work may hold the key to understanding Trump’s popularity and his staying power.

“Barthes is best known for his work in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols. But he wasn’t limited to lengthy, esoteric treatises. Rather, Barthes published…

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