Somewhere between the Kardashians and the Franzens of the world lie the rest of us. "Call it upper middle brow," says William Deresiewicz:
It is post- rather than pre-ironic, its sentimentality hidden by a veil of cool. It is edgy, clever, knowing, stylish, and formally inventive. It is Jonathan Lethem, Wes Anderson, Lost in Translation, Girls, Stewart/Colbert, The New Yorker, This American Life and the whole empire of quirk, and the films that should have won the Oscars (the films you’re not sure whether to call films or movies). The upper middle brow possesses excellence, intelligence, and integrity. It is genuinely good work (as well as being most of what I read or look at myself).
The problem is it always lets us off the hook. Like Midcult, it is ultimately designed to flatter its audience, approving our feelings and reinforcing our prejudices. It stays within the bounds of what we already believe, affirms the enlightened opinions we absorb every day in the quality media, the educated bromides we trade on Facebook. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, doesn’t seek to disturb—the definition of a true avant-garde—our fundamental view of ourselves, or society, or the world. (Think, by contrast, of some truly disruptive works: The Wire, Blood Meridian, almost anything by J. M. Coetzee.)
Alan Jacobs ponders the piece:
Below are all the posts regarding Andrew’s examination of the Mormon church’s troubled history with race and how it relates to Mitt Romney’s shape-shifting character. Tue Oct 23, 2012 – 8:30pm: Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama had never attended Jeremiah Wright’s church in Chicago and had decided to attend services, and proselytize for, … Continue reading Religion, Race And Double Standards
The following is our complete thread on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to ban certain sizes of soda and other beverages due to health concerns. The debate then segues to Bloomberg’s efforts to curtail the use of baby formula by new mothers. Thu May 31, 2012 – 2:43pm: Nanny State Watch Jacob Sullum spells … Continue reading Nanny State Watch – Bloomberg’s Paternalism
Some highlights from today's oral arguments: Allahpundit thinks Sotomayor's argument in favor of severability, heard at the end of the video above, has some merit: The argument for having the Court kill the whole thing is more pragmatic than legal, I think — no one wants to see insurers go out of business because Congress … Continue reading Day Three Reax: Can Obamacare Survive Without The Mandate?
Last Friday, a jury found Dharun Ravi guilty of, among other charges, "bias intimidation" against Tyler Clementi because of his sexual orientation. R.M. at DiA is troubled:
For many this will be seen as a victory against homophobia and cyberbullying. But others will see it as overkill by prosecutors bent on avenging the death of Mr Clementi. Despite holding nothing but contempt for Mr Ravi, I tend towards the latter interpretation. Society's harsh moral judgment of Mr Ravi could not be adequately reflected in the law, nor could the law properly account for Mr Clementi's suicide. So prosecutors piled bias intimidation charges on top of the more appropriate spying and tampering ones, essentially doubling the possible sentence, in an effort to express the public's disdain for the defendant and somehow balance Mr Ravi's callous acts with Mr Clementi's tragic death.
I find it repellent as well. This was a bigoted online hazing followed by a judicial witch-hunt. Jacob Sullum explains how tenuous the hate crime charges really were:
Under New Jersey's law, bigotry is not even necessary.
Peter Laarman makes the theological case: We are all compounded of bits of good and bits of evil in a complicated admixture. And so trickster Jacob is not ultimately damned on account of his trickery in displacing his older brother’s inheritance, nor is King David ultimately damned for arranging to murder the warrior husband of … Continue reading Hearing Ron Paul Out
Ryan Lizza lists "electoral outcomes journalists are secretly rooting for." A Huntsman upset in New Hampshire is among them: [T]he press loves Huntsman. Jacob Weisberg wrote an excellent and mostly positive profile for Vogue. Joe Klein says Huntsman "refuses to pander to the know-nothing zealots who’ve overrun his party" and has "proposed the most thoughtful roster of policy initiatives of … Continue reading The Journalists’ Candidate
Today on the Dish, Iceland unanimously adopted gay marriage, we found a raft of new footage showing dead and imperiled Iranians, and a new video of the flotilla emerged as well. Andrew confronted Chait's latest take on Israel, responded to a reader invoking the trauma of terrorism, and talked about the president's management style with … Continue reading The Weekly Wrap
Since SCOTUS put a hold on cameras or even delayed YouTubes, Rick Jacobs decided to live-blog Day One. It's excellent. I love Olson's response to the judge's question as to why should the courts get involved in this issue at all: That’s why we have courts, to protect those who are discriminated against, when their … Continue reading Live-Blogging The Prop 8 Trial