September 24, 2011 This week a high school in western Pennsylvania canceled its production of Kismet, citing sensitivity over the Sept. 11 attacks. The musical was adapted from the Arabian Nights; might it not be good for students to learn a lesson about controversy?
September 3, 2011 There are hazards in paraphrasing important quotes, as poet Maya Angelou pointed out when she criticized the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall. Excerpts are often reduced to clips, bites and tweets, and quotes get transformed to fit — or get attention. But this is not new.
August 27, 2011 Jack Layton, head of Canada's New Democratic Party, died this week. His final letter illustrates why the mourning crosses party lines. "My friends," he wrote, "love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair." And Canada is better for Jack Layton's legacy.
August 6, 2011 News that Standard & Poor's has downgraded the US credit rating pales in comparison to the daily reality faced by millions of unemployed Americans. For them, the most important news everyday is that the jobs market is stagnant, and the prospect of finding work seems increasingly remote.
July 23, 2011 Newsman and playwright Ben Hecht's memoir could convince anyone to become a reporter; he and his fellow "stew-bums" committed all sorts of wacky hijinks. The News Corp. hacking scandal, however, hurt innocent people and may have violated simple human decency.
July 16, 2011 A narrow bureaucratic decision nearly kept MillerCoors from selling beer in Minnesota. It was the kind of red tape that can drive people to say they don't care if a government shuts down. But then if it does, they get mad that the government isn't there to help them.
July 9, 2011 There were shocked outcries after a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter. Public anger aside, justice is served when juries know that if they take their responsibilities seriously, they are free to reach decisions they know may be unpopular.
July 2, 2011 An off-color remark uttered by pundit Mark Halperin on MSNBC was a stark reminder that anyone who gets near a microphone shouldn't count on seven-second delays or sharp-eared producers. And it was also a reminder of a few stupid things that I've said on the air.
June 18, 2011 A doctor, according to court testimony, rushed an opera singer in a supermarket and "got face to face, nose to nose, in a threatening way" over a frozen tofu pad Thai entree — which, if true, suggests that angry vegans can be as combative as any spit-roasted, rib-eye-chewing carnivore.
June 11, 2011 When Albertina Sisulu and a few other women organized a protest in 1956 of the passbooks that were the bedrock of South Africa's apartheid laws, they chanted, "When you tamper with women, you strike a rock." And MaSisulu, as she came to be known, became the rock on which a new nation is rising.
June 4, 2011 The nation's third president once said, "The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." Would he have supported a court ruling that restrains citizens from pursuing dancing at his memorial?