The Varied Views of Dissidents in China — A Response to James Palmer

By Maria Repnikova

In the wake of Liu Xiaobo’s tragic death, Western news sites have been filled with assessments of many things related to the literary critic turned prisoner of conscience and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Few efforts have been made, though, to gauge reactions to Liu’s treatment and demise on the Chinese mainland. James Palmer’s “The Chinese Think Liu Was Asking For It” is an exception. In this commentary, Palmer, a longtime resident of Beijing and editor at Foreign Policy, argues that many — perhaps even most of the well informed — Chinese living on the mainland either know little or nothing about Liu Xiaobo or view him as a person who made the mistake of going too far, and in a sense wrote his own death warrant. Continue reading

Pre-Modern Post-Truth

By Rhodri Lewis

At the end of 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” its Word of the Year, and offered a fine working definition of what the term can be said to mean: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” “The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade,” the OED declared on its blog, but they had lately “seen a spike in frequency … in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States.” Few would attempt to deny that the political culture embraced and advanced by the Trump administration and the champions of Brexit fits the OED’s description perfectly. Continue reading

The Blue Force Field: A Justice System that Assumes Impartiality Fails Us All

By Justin Campbell

“The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 of hindsight. The calculus of reasonable must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments-in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. The test of reasonableness is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application.” -Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Graham v. Connor (1989)

“Lower courts were asked to use three questions to measure the lawfulness of use of force: First, what was the severity of the crime that the officer believed the suspect to have committed or be committing? Second, did the suspect present an immediate threat to the safety of officers or the public? Third, was the suspect actively resisting arrest or attempting to escape?” -Ken Wallentine, “How to Ensure Use of Force Is “Reasonable and Necessary” and Avoid Claims of Excessive Force” Continue reading

Okja, the Groundbreaking Netflix-Produced Korean Movie About a Girl and Her Pig, Shows What Translates and What Doesn’t

By Colin Marshall

On the day we caught Okja, the latest, Netflix-produced film by superstar Korean director Bong Joon-ho, my girlfriend and I went to a tonkatsu place we’d been meaning to return to — deliberately eating before the screening, not after. Everything we knew about the movie, posters for which went up in our neighborhood in Seoul months before it opened, suggested that we’d leave the theater after this tale of a girl and her giant, genetically enhanced pig with our desire for pork greatly diminished. Still, anyone familiar with Korea has to suspect that no movie, no matter how heartwarming, could take much of a bite out of this heartily carnivorous country’s formidable meat consumption. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “Manacled Slim Wrists”: What Man Has Done to Man

By Everett Hamner

This is the sixth in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black season 5 (preview; episode 1 ; episode 2; episode 3; episode 4; episode 5). These pieces do not provide thorough plot summaries but do include spoilers; they assume readers have already been viewers. Responses via Twitter continue to be very welcome! Continue reading

Conversing with Thoreau: An Interview with Laura Dassow Walls

By Bob Blaisdell

Laura Dassow Walls is an English professor at the University of Notre Dame and the author of The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America, Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science and Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth. In this year that marks Thoreau’s 200th birthday, we exchanged emails about the writing of her new and first-rate biography, Henry David Thoreau: A Life. Continue reading

Hamburg, and My Issue with Riot Porn

By Natasha Lennard

We call it riot porn — it’s a pretty self-evident term to describe videos of riots and protests, viewed and shared for enjoyment. They contain a few standard aesthetic elements: fire, smoke, black bloc participants, and confrontation, preferably in which the protesters appear to have the upper hand. They give little room for context, relying instead on the idea that we know an insurrectionary spectacle when we see one. Between online denizens of the far left, eager to share in what revolution looks like, riot porn gains swift social media traction and memefication. Continue reading