My article in the current issue examines an ongoing challenge for death-penalty opponents: abolishing the death penalty in a given state has generally meant sentencing a lot more people to life without parole, a sentence just as hopeless and final.
Many, perhaps most, readers of Then and Now teach in one context or another. The responsibility, joy, and challenge of teaching is paradoxical: it is a complex exercise, and yet the task is simple. Is teaching a calling? Can one learn to be a great teacher, or is teaching a gift with which someone is born? What is the future of teaching, particularly in higher-ed settings? How do we teach students to love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with their God?
Yet, his “pessimism” lies in thinking change is unlikely, not that change is impossible. When discussing police brutality and criminal justice, he reminds his readers that “democratic will” has sanctioned and allowed the abuses that flow from these practices.
The Koch brothers have grown wary of being perceived as a pro-rich people lobby, so they’re working on it. Matea Gold and James Hohmann report that “the theme of helping the lower class was echoed throughout the weekend conference.”
“The theme of helping the lower class”—that’s a well-worded summary, because whatever shifts in tone or even substance exist here, it’s important to recognize that the subject of the sentence remains: uncommonly rich, powerful people.
A disturbing factor in the rash of police shootings of unarmed black people and of deaths in police custody is that many of the victims were apprehended for petty offenses. Sandra Bland was stopped for not signaling a lane change, Samuel DuBose for a missing license plate, and Walter Scott for a busted taillight. A trend among municipalities is to issue fines as a means of generating revenue, and this onerous strategy falls disproportionately on people of color, many of whom are poor themselves. Not having the means to pay the fines can land them in jail, resulting in job loss and perpetuation of poverty—and increased distrust of law enforcement (Mother Jones, September/October).