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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of the Week: “Lingo”Race/The Oscars, Telecommuting, and Same-Sex Marriage

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course.

  1. DRAMATURGICY/NON-MATERIAL CULTURE/SOCIAL INTERPRETATIONS AND EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE OR “LINGO”RACE/THE OSCARS:  In a follow up to the class viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz (who played the non-racist mentor and friend of Django, King Schultz) won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. There was also discussion of the controversy about the Tarantino’s use of the N word.  What did you think of the use of the N word in the movie? Was it historically appropriate use of language as being in the antebellum South and a freed man? Should it have not been used (keep in mind, there was strong language throughout the film, and one student counted how many times she thought Sam Jackson, who has made a certain phrase his personal catch phrase, and she came up with 7 for a very short role in a time that that phrase was not used – indeed, Tarantino supposedly simply allowed Jackson to ad lib it in). Should the N word not have been used at all, because of contemporary social politics of the word? (PS AS YOU ALL KNOW, I BAN THIS WORD IN CLASS AS BEING A MAJOR PROFANITY AND RACIAL EPITHET, UNDER THE THEORY THAT WHOPPI GOLDBERG’S USE OF THE N WORD RESULTS IN A BLEEP AND A CLOUD, WHICH SHE IS VERY POLITICAL ABOUT, AS ARE MANY AFRICAN AMERICANS, IN BEING ALLOWED TO USE; THIS IS AS COMPARED TO THE B WORD WHICH IS NOT BANNED AS IT IS ALLOWED IN DAYTIME TV, AND ALSO DISCUSSED AT LENGTH BY THE VIEW PANEL ON A REGULAR BASIS, we can continue to discuss the politics of the shifting views of language toward not being allowed to use the first and becoming acceptable to use the second.
  2. TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUTING/SOCIOLOGY OF WORK AND ORGANIZATIONS/SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS/GENDER (A/K/A IS THERE AN ISSUE ABOUT SEX OR NOT?)/FAMILIES:  The Yahoo CEO, a 37-year-old female mother (who PS went back to work last year two weeks after her child was born), Marissa Mayer has decreed no more telecommuting.  An irony of this, of course, is that yahoo and computer firms made telecommuting possible and a real opportunity for many workers.  The theory behind this return to brick and mortar is that a socially interactive work environment, with its hallway conversations and watercooler meetings, may be more generative of insight and creative productivity. Yahoo employees must either return to full-time brick or mortar working environment on the Yahoo campus or resign, as of June. A question raised is whether the ban (and it is a ban) or work from home is a direct hit to mothers raising families (I urge you to consider, what about fathers raising families?????). NOTE:  Mayer has had a nursery built next door to her office in the “Yahoo campus” – does this raise different issues of social inequality for you? On this morning’s NBC Today show (which I had on in the background while writing this very exercise from home!) Matt Lauer put a poll into the online field as to regarding viewers’ views (so to speak) about this.  What are YOUR views and why?
  3. FAMILIES/AMERICAN SOCIETY/GENDER AND SEXUALITY:  In a follow up to the class attendance of The Laramie Project II (10 year update after the murder of gay college student Matthew Sheppard in Wyoming, which prompted the hate crimes laws).  There is a US Supreme Court case coming up in March 2013.  From today, “Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Gets More Republican Support,” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.:  She writes that, “more than two dozen Republicans — including a top adviser to Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee — have added their names to a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to declare that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.” Read this again – they added their names to ALLOW for same sex marriage. Given the Boy Scouts week 1 discussion and the theater, how would you say the sociological imagination (especially in view of the three questions in the C. Wright Mills piece) has changed? What is the “personal trouble” of same sex couples who cannot get married? What is the “public issue”?

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.