Culture Briefs

Gun nuts

“Here’s UCLA law professor Adam Winkler reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘complicated history with guns’: ‘Most people think King would be the last person to own a gun. Yet in the mid-1950s, as the civil rights movement heated up, King kept firearms for self-protection. In fact, he even applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. A recipient of constant death threats, King had armed supporters take turns guarding his home and family.’ …

“There’s nothing unusual about this. Many civil rights activists — including those who publicly engaged in non-violent forms of resistance — kept guns for self-defense. T.R.M. Howard, the Mississippi doctor and mutual aid leader who founded the pioneering Regional Council of Negro Leadership, slept with a Thompson submachine gun at the foot of his bed. During the murder trial that followed the horrific lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, Howard escorted Till’s grieving mother and various others to and from the courthouse in a heavily-armed caravan.

“Similarly, John R. Salter, one of the organizers of the famous 1963 sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in Jackson, Mississippi, said he always ‘traveled armed’ while working as a civil rights organizer in the South. ‘I’m alive today because of the Second Amendment and the natural right to keep and bear arms,’ Salter said.”

Damon W. Root, writing on “Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Armed Self-Defense” on Jan. 19 at the Reason blog Hit & Run

Revenge on ‘Revenge’

“By 1985, the ‘nerd cycle,’ as my A.V. Club cohort Kyle Ryan calls it, was still in full effect, but on the downslope of whatever minor creative tremor had rippled through the culture. The subgenre had reached its apotheosis the year before with ‘Revenge Of The Nerds,’ the ‘Porky’s franchise was on its little-loved second sequel (sporting the opportunistic title ‘Porky’s Revenge’), and the video market was being pelted by noxious campus comedies like ‘Fraternity Vacation,’ which tilted the boobs-and-pranks formula definitively into sourness and misogyny. (Let’s not forget that the chief nerd in ‘Revenge Of The Nerds’ bests the chief jock by essentially raping his girlfriend in a funhouse.)

“All were derivatives of ‘Animal House,’ but few were as much fun as they promised to be, perhaps because the nerd/jock types were so broadly defined that neither were terribly relatable. Jocks were bullying Neanderthals; nerds were reedy little pipsqueaks who were, in their own way, just as narrow and mean-spirited as their adversaries. Enter ‘Real Genius,’ and not a moment too soon.”

Scott Tobias, writing on “The New Cult Canon: Real Genius,” on Jan. 13 at the AV Club

Mere gossip

“Celebrity leftists such as filmmaker Michael Moore, British film and television director Ken Loach, Australian filmmaker John Pilger, and British human rights activist, Jemima Khan, have hailed Julian Assange as if he were Roman Polanski and Che Guevara rolled into one. They have pledged money for lawyers to defend him against rape allegations in Sweden. They view Assange as a revolutionary outlaw, an Internet ‘artiste,’ the new Daniel Ellsberg, a war-stopper, a show-stopper, the people’s hero.

“On the one hand, as I’ve written elsewhere, I think that we, the people (without the slightest accountability) have access to far too much non-stop, unfiltered information, without the requisite measured and trustworthy analysis, and that privacy rights have gone the way of the dodo bird. Contrary to those who are glamorizing Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, I do not really need to know what diplomats privately say to and about each other; I am no more than a voyeur here and the collateral damage in terms of how such ‘transparency’ endangers human lives and hampers diplomacy is more important than my access rights to gossip.”

Phyllis Chesler, writing on “Faux Feminist Naomi Wolf Joins Assange in Crusade To Bring Down America,” on Jan. 19 at NewsReal Blog

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