Left, Meet Right

I see the gap between the Right and Left in American politics as in many ways unbridgeable, requiring a leap from religion to secularism or vice versa. But I also see it as in many ways bridgeable, requiring only a willingness to recognize common goals.

The Right talks a lot about Family Values, and the Left talks a lot about a Living Wage. With some modifications in vocabulary, this could be a single successful discussion. Parents could spend time with kids if a single salary could support read more

A Student Newspaper

Cavalier Daily
Last week this paper printed two articles, six editorials, and four letters on the repercussions of an assault, as well as an ongoing count of days the assailants have remained on Grounds.

(As I understand it, one student did the assaulting while two others watched along with a fourth student who has since graduated.)

In its crusade to have three students expelled, the CD has boldly taken on authorities, campaigning against cowardice, injustice, and dishonesty for the sake of read more

Letter to Stanley Fish

To Stanley Fish
cc: Columbia Law Review

12 May 1999

Dear Mr. Fish,

Thank you very much for your Columbia Law Review article “Mission Impossible…”. I enjoyed it immensely, as I do most of your work. (I have read many articles, including those in “Is There a Text in This Class?,” “Doing What Comes Naturally,” and most of those in “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech,” which I am currently reading.) I am not sure, however, whether read more

Living Wage Report

Report to the Labor Action Group at UVA:
WHAT I LEARNED AT THE ACORN LIVING-WAGE CONFERENCE
Nov. 10-12, 2000, in Baltimore

cc: V.O.P., ACORN, ULR, Greens

I have a huge pile of very useful handouts that I can photocopy. In the meantime I’ll tell you the notes I took and the highlights. I’ll be in C’ville Monday afternoon and can drop off a stack of photocopies if someone can pay a Kinko’s bill or let me use a copier. Let me know Monday morning please.

This fact may read more

Labor Action

A group of University of Virginia students, faculty, and staff is expected to
demonstrate Friday, March 26th, at 1:00 p.m. on behalf of a living wage
for all UVa employees. The demonstration will take place outside the Rotunda
at the center of campus where the Board of Visitors, which sets the
university’s budget, will be meeting.

Demonstrators are planning to form a picket line on the Lawn in front of the
Rotunda and to deliver to the Board a petition signed by over 900 members read more

Toleration

February, 1999
In April of 1995 I wrote a paper for a graduate philosophy class at the U of Virginia with professor John Simmons. We were reading Rawls, and the paper was called “Reason and Religion in Rawls.” It’s 17 pages long but makes a simple point that is not specific to Rawls. Recently I found the same point made – the only other time I’ve seen it – in a paper by Stanley Fish in “The Revival of Pragmatism,” edited by Morris Dickstein. read more

Caring for Criminals

12 January, 1999
I have sympathy for people who do cruel, selfish and destructive things – in many cases these correspond to committing crimes – because I think these people would be happier if they did not do these things, and this quite apart from the punishment often inflicted on them by their societies. I do not sympathize with the sick culture of much American music, film, and television that romanticizes crime. I do not fail to sympathize with the victims of crimes, read more

Reply to Neal Gabler

11 January, 1999
Various newspapers, beginning with the L.A. Times, have recently been running an editorial by Neal Gabler explaining the sexual inquisition in Washington, DC, as a struggle between proponents and opponents of religion, and taking the side of the religious. I think Gabler is right about the struggle, and would like to comment from the opposing camp.

Of course, beliefs can be put together in any combination. Many people oppose the impeachment of Clinton and attend church. Many read more

The Last Word on Sodomy

When I read Newsweek, I generally skim it, and even then seem to grasp it all without having to really pay attention. But sometimes I hit the George Will column, “The Last Word,” like a brick wall. I have to go back over it carefully three times, and even then can only at best guess what he’s saying. His thinking is so far removed from mine, and he is so convinced that everybody already shares his views, that I often have a hard time grasping his message.

This was the case read more

Thoughts on Criminal Justice

December 1998
My first encounter with the idea that prisons might be a bad idea was in reading Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1975). He spoke of alternatives or substitutes for prisons, and also for factories, schools, barracks, and hospitals, all of which he said resembled prisons. But he said not one word about what such alternatives might be, and his style struck me as pretentious. So I didn’t pay much attention.

I believed, of course, that we ought to have been devoting read more