While everyone else was concentrating on Indiana and Iran last week, a much smaller piece of news broke that was of little interest to the wider world. It was so microscopic that I would have missed it entirely, if not for Sonny Bunch's indispensible blog, Everything's A Problem.
But fortunately, Sonny noticed the sudden death of Anthony Stokes that was, in addition to being a minor tragedy, also a telling story about where we are as a culture.
You probably don't remember Anthony Stokes, but back in 2013, he was briefly famous. Stokes was a 15-year-old Georgia kid with a bad heart: Born with an enlarged heart, doctors gave him roughly six months to live if he didn't get a transplant. The problem for Stokes-besides his terrible medical condition-was that the medical authorities wouldn't put him on the transplant list because they deemed him to be a high risk for non-compliance. You see, Stokes had not just a history of bad grades but a criminal record, too. "We follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility for a transplant of any kind," a flack from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta said at the time. "They said they don't have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups," said Stokes' mother.
But this is America, so you can already guess how this story went. Stokes' family went to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They cried racism. Then social media and "#BlackTwitter" (their term, not mine) kicked in. And the doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta freaked out because there are few things as unsettling as being called a racist by hordes of people on the internet. So the doctors reversed course and put Stokes on the transplant list. And, by the grace of God, Stokes got a heart. (Which means that someone else, by necessity, did not.)
And then the left-from the Huffington Post to Think Progress to Gawker to Ebony-did a victory lap. To their mind, they had won another victory in the culture war, exposing racism, shaming the power structure, and making the world a more perfect place.
Last Tuesday, a little less than two years after Stokes was gifted a heart, he-allegedy-broke into an 81-year-old woman's home and, upon being discovered, fired gunshots at her. He-allegedly-fled the scene in a car that police later determined had been stolen. Police pursued Stokes in a high-speed chase. After a few miles Stokes-allegedly!-hit a pedestrian, whereupon he crashed the stolen car and died. (We don't have to cover ourselves on this last bit; he is indisputably dead.)
There's a great parable wrapped up in this story. And yet in the public consciousness, the death of Anthony Stokes barely registers. He's not even a footnote. But he should be. Because he got a heart that could have gone to someone else if not for the online mob and charges of racism. He got a heart-and someone else did not-because of the culture war. And he wasted it.
As the case of Anthony Stokes should make clear, a great deal of the culture war is taking place under the radar these days. For instance, the videogame world has spent almost a year embroiled in a fight known colloquially as #GamerGate. I don't have the patience (and you don't have the time) to fully explain the story, but if you want to get a flavor for it, you can read this and this . The micro-version is: The elite videogame press is dominated by a small clique of writers and game-makers with radical leftist politics. These folks have made a long practice of foisting their views on an audience-videogame players-which is not interested in radical leftist politics.
#GamerGate is basically an apolitical revolt against leftism in a context where politics shouldn't exist, but does-because leftism necessitates that politics be ubiquitous.
Over the weekend we saw another revolt of the masses against leftist elites in a sphere where you wouldn't expect it: science-fiction writing.
Until Hillary Clinton decided to destroy 33,000 allegedly personal e-mails, all was quiet on the document-retention front in her selected home State of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quite happy with the secrecy provided by his own refusal to send written memos or e-mails, and the practice followed by his staff and state agencies (at his insistence) of destroying e-mails older than 90 days. No footprints. Which is the way the famously secretive Cuomo likes it.
The Council of the Princeton University Community voted on Monday to gut due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. The week before last it was the turn of the faculty to genuflect as the hearse bearing the remains of due process rolled past. This unsavory episode highlights two parlous issues. First, there is the problem of sexual misconduct on campus, which was always at unacceptable levels and appears to be getting worse. Second, there is the dangerous license federal agencies have to rewrite law.
Florida Polytechnic “University” (it isn’t accredited) is making headlines this week by opening a bookless library. Instead of checking out traditional codex books, students will be forced to read class material on tablets, e-readers, and/or laptops. According to the middle-aged librarians and bureaucrats who run the school, a bookless library will appeal to the youth.
Islamic State terrorists, formerly known as ISIS, have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority in and around the city of Sinjar and taken hundreds of women as slaves. Some of the victims were buried alive. Their only crime: not being Muslims.
In an interview with President Bush's daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, President Obama said that "a lot of young men of color aren't doing well." He also talked about his own childhood, growing up without his father in his life.
This week the Factual Feminist takes on the “rape culture” panic that is riling college campuses with help from the media, radical feminists, and too many politicians. Just as in the shameful panic over alleged child abuse at day care centers that sent innocent people to prison in the 1980s, false statistics, mob tactics at public meetings, and disregard for the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” hold sway among today’s accusers.
Richard V. Reeves has written in The Atlantic a confident and illuminating account of the state of marriage in America today. College-educated American men and women “are reinventing marriage as a child-rearing machine for a post-feminist society and a knowledge economy.” On this front, the Americans have once again shown their superiority to the Europeans, who, in their socially self-destructive way, remain ambivalent at best about the value of being married. But a European might respond that only an American could be content with such a self-consciously mechanical view of a relational institution. It’s easy to hear the French man Alexis de Tocqueville laughing between the lines of his deadpan description of American men describing marriage in terms of “self-interest rightly understood.”
Harold Ramis died on Monday morning. Having written, directed (or written and directed) five of the funniest movies of the last 40 years, I think it's safe to put him on the short list for Funniest Guy of His Generation.
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."
Amiri Baraka, New Jersey’s controversial one-time poet laureate, died yesterday, aged 79. The poet, essayist, and playwright’s body of work will be remembered, if at all, as among the least humane in the history of American letters. An early 9/11 denier—a notorious 2002 poem suggested Jews were responsible for the attacks—Baraka embraced many of the last century’s worst ideologies.
The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes "Hollywood news" and "other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States." The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, is
While everyone else has spent the last few days obsessing about Gravity, the government shutdown, and the real possibility that the NFC East division champ will have six wins, it’s quietly been an interesting week for sociology nerds who think about marriage.
Big deal on Drudge yesterday about WWE wrestler Darren Young possibly breaking kayfabe and coming out to TMZ. (Although the timing of this suggests at least the possibility that this is a work and not a shoot.) Whatever. It’s been months since Jason Collins and the media is thrilled.