contact us

 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Blog

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.

Filtering by Category: Pedagogy

What Introductory Criminal Justice Students Need to Know About the Media and Crime

Nickie Phillips

social-media-myths-and-your-sales-300x198

At the start of a new semester, criminal justice professors face the daunting task of demystifying media myths

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast Correspondent

The media, through various means, has become the primary source of news and entertainment for many Americans. Each day the media reaches millions of viewers, listeners and readers throughout the world and provides a rapid broadcast of knowledge and information. Although the ability to have “the world at our fingertips” is beneficial, the inaccuracies and rash portrayals of current events can lead to inadvertent consequences.

Crime in the news

Crime is portrayed in the media on a daily basis, whether it is in the newspapers, on television, via video or written blogs, among other means. As criminologist Ray Surette explains, news regarding crime may be general, referring to broad trends and issues, or specific, in reference to a particular crime incident. The media has one objective, to sell stories. Therefore, it chooses which crimes, victims and court cases merit attention, often choosing to expose the most sensational, emotional, and significant crime stories. Unfortunately, the media does not always broadcast information in an objective or accurate manner, which can lead to unintended consequences.

How the media portrays crime

The media increases crime salience through agenda setting, priming and framing the “best-selling” stories. The public is exposed to certain crime issues and then primed to believe that those issues warrant more political attention. The media chooses which social problems merit greater attention and relies on the government and experts to interpret and contextualize these problems to the public. As viewers, we rely on the government and experts to frame the news for us and determine the criteria by which we judge public policies or crime related issues. Lastly, the media encourages its audience to arrive at certain conclusions by promoting a particular treatment recommendation or moral evaluation to the problem. It often focuses blame on a particular individual or larger social or political institution, which ultimately affects punitiveness and future policy preferences.

Representations of the police in the media are often overdramatized and romanticized. Research has shown that police are often presented favorably in television and movies; as fictional television dramas show the majority of cases solved and criminal suspects successfully apprehended. Unfortunately, crime presented as entertainment distorts viewers understanding of criminal investigations. Subsequently, the public develops unrealistic expectations regarding the investigation process, police use of force and forensic evidence. Such portrayal reinforces traditional law enforcement tactics including increased police presence, harsh penalties and increasing police power.

The effect on viewers

It has been argued that heavy television viewers have an altered perception of the “real world”, shaped by the media. Therefore, these viewers feel a greater threat from crime and believe that crime is more prevalent than statistics indicate. Violent crime is disproportionately broadcast and portrayed as more violent, random and dangerous than in the “real world”. Subsequently, viewers internalize these crime stories and develop a “scary” image of reality. Unfortunately, this threatening perception of society initiates fear, mistrust, and alienation, causing viewers to support more “quick-fix” solutions against crime.

Leading to punitive policies

globe2

Misinformation dispersed by the media heightens public sensitivity to the crime problem, reinforcing public sense of immediate and inescapable danger. Subsequently, fear and anxiety develop as the public pressures politicians for a “quick-fix” and extreme solution to the crime problem. These “quick-fix” solutions focus on short-term crime relief, resulting in more punitive rather than preventative polices and encourage more policing, arrests and longer sentences.

The media coverage of minorities and crime demonstrates the disproportionate portrayal of minorities shown in menacing contexts. Blacks are more likely than whites to be shown in mug shots, in physical custody of the police and victimizing strangers and members of different races. Media representations of minorities result in exaggerations of crime statistics including the number of blacks arrested for crimes and the likelihood that the public will be victimized by minorities. This ultimately attributes the crime problem to blacks as a group. This false depiction of minority criminals leads to public fear and mistrust of minorities, allowing for the expansion of punitive policies based on race.

This culpability was demonstrated by the media’s coverage of the “War on Drugs”. The media exposed an imminent and threatening national crisis and recommended the use of power and mobilization of massive resources to curb the threat and vanquish the “enemy”. Images and stereotypes of the “enemy”, exposed by the media, included young, inner-city, minority males in gangs terrorizing communities and innocent citizens while conducting illegal drug deals and committing various crimes. Subsequently, the public became fearful and began to alienate themselves from the community, while pressuring politicians for an immediate “quick-fix” solution. Consequently, the police crackdown on street-level drug dealers and harsher sentences resulted in additional arrests and longer prison sentences. However, the underlying conditions leading to the drug problem remained unidentified and unaffected. In addition, the punitive “quick-fix” solution lead to unintended consequences, including angry and hardened attitudes towards offenders, increased costs of the criminal justice system and intensified racial tensions, resulting from targeting minorities. Concerns about constitutional and civil rights waned, citing more immediate concerns for public safety. Respect for the law eroded, as the public encouraged more aggressive policing strategies, exposing citizens to expanded discretion of law enforcement and infringements of their Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

danielle

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast contributor, teaches Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Danielle earned her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2011 from John Jay College where she was awarded the Claude Hawley Medal and Graduate Scholarship. She currently lives in New York City.

Edgar Allan Poe at the Morgan Library and Museum

Nickie Phillips

edgar_allan_poe_by_guiton85-d536kuc

Demetra M. Pappas,  JD, MSc, PhD, correspondent

This piece, about “Edgar Allan Poe:  Terror of the Soul” at the Morgan Museum and Library (October 4, 2013 – January 26, 2014), is one part art and literary review and one part pedagogical instruction. I viewed this tour de force exhibition on a day that I was dealing with hellish and rather obsessive revisions of a PhD chapter on the Chief Prosecuting Attorneys and Judges in the Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian trials, which I am reformatting as an article (having not learned better after writing a book recently on this history of euthanasia/assisted suicide debate).  As a member of a generation that wrote briefs, articles and dissertations on yellow pads, rather than iPads, I have been carrying around sheafs of paper with inserted words/phrases, “x”ed out paragraphs, circled material with arrows.

So it was that I went to the Poe exhibition when I felt dejected and at a lack of inspiration (and that on work previously received well by peers and superiors in criminology, law, sociology, history and narrative medicine) and fled my computer and writing table (though carrying around the drafts and pads, as though that would magically reformat the piece).  My natural expectation was to feel intimidated further by seeing works by this poet, essayist, literary critic and editor.

Instead, I came away inspired. Now, I fully realize that I will almost certainly live a writer’s life of perpetual doe in the headlights, rather than be a Poe in the limelight (though he underwent terribly periods of poverty and, in fact, went bankrupt at one point – inspiring enough for those underpaid, indebted students, writers, lawyers and other viewers). What immediately captured me was a hand drafted manuscript encased at the center of the room as viewers enter, “The Living Writers of America:  Some Ideas and Opinions about their Literary Merits with Occasional Words of Personality,” circa 1846-1847.”  There were cross outs, inserted words and phrases, arrows – in other words, there were the signs of a redrafter and reviser. I immediately made a note to tell students, colleagues and friends to look for this piece especially, no disrespect to The Raven.

Another piece which intrigued me was a scathing self-critique by Poe, of Poe, captioned, “A Reviewer Reviewed,” written under a pseudonym. All writers (and all students who have a writing requirement) should see this piece, so that they can see that the originator of American Gothic, and the first American writer to earn his daily bread in that enterprise, also effectively cringed when looking back at earlier work (and this work was reputedly only a year or two earlier).  This is cause to revere Poe more, not less, and to celebrate him as reaching (and teaching) into the lives of contemporary people.

Poe’s genius is visually enhanced by the curatorial choice of Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor Curator, Literary and Historical Manuscripts, of mounting the exhibition against rich blood-red walls.  The paint (“Caliente AF-290,” by Benjamin Moore was chosen further to “a decision based on an exhibition of Russian icons [he] saw [in which he was] struck by how well you could light that blood red color in the way that complemented the manuscript and the ink.”

Poe would not have edited this, an imaginative setting that highlights the writing and the accompanying portraits and pieces of art.

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD was named the 2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year at St. Francis College.  Her book, Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America: The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate, (Greenwood Press,  2012) (100 year study of US and UK  doctors prosecuted for medical euthanasia/assisted suicide and role of media) was nominated, 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize and was nominated and short listed for the 2013 BSC Criminology Book Prize.

News of the Week: Crimcast: Newtown Shootings, Boston Marathon Bombing, New Orleans Shooting

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.It has been my practice for 10 years to work on topical and timely events in the news as they relate to my courses. Last semester, barely a week after final exams, the Newtown school shootings, of 20 children and 6 adults, at Sandy Hook took place. Along with the country, I watched in horror and was seized with grief. How could such a young person have so much access to weapons? Since the day of this essay is Mothers’ Day, I feel obliged to ask how could Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy, encourage his arsenal interest? At dinner meetings for other purposes, professionals found themselves bereft in the most personal ways – one such event included probation officers (with juvenile and youth specialties), academics and criminal lawyers. In that blur, I remember telling my colleagues and friends that I wished that News of the Week was still on, that I wanted to know what, if any, sense my 20 year olds were making of it all. This would not have been far removed from Spring 2012, during which I gave out copies of two chapters of Adam Winkler’s tour de force, Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America (W.W. Norton 2011), and invited them on a semi-open final exam (chapters and cheat sheet allowed) to comment on the Treyvon Martin case – a more technically difficult option, nearly overwhelmingly chosen by the same-age cohort, many of whose members hailed from urban backgrounds. This year, as luck would have it, I was on a business trip to Boston the week before Patriots Day and the Boston Marathon. The weather was lovely, Boylston Street was bustling – in short, it was exactly as it would be on Marathon Day, shortly before the bombs went off near the finish line

HOMELAND SECURITY/DEVIANCE/SPORTS AND SOCIALIZATION: The Boston Marathon Bombing, which everyone knows about (actually cannot avoid, as it is all over web, tv, radio, etc.). No suggested articles/internet approaches, because so very many as to be too numerous to count. There are many possible approaches to this, and I will let the team take the approach they wish. NOTE: All of our hearts go out to friends, family, and Boston, which, but for a change of schedule, I was meant to be in this week, instead of last week. If anyone in the class has a direct connection, we are all so sorry and empathetic. Also, if anyone gets upset, that is ok, too, especially if there are personal connections. We are here/there for you

During the conversation, which was essentially earnest, three particular statements were so compelling that I put them (with attribution and extra-credited) on the final examination. Because I can visualize the students, but the reader here cannot, I am including brief demographic commentary next to their names, a gesture of citational respect for these insightful students:

OPTION A: SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION/DEVIANCE/NEWS OF THE WEEK CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN SOCIETY: Using at least 10 sociological terms (highlighted, underlined, circled or in ALL CAPS), please construct an essay discussing employing the sociological imagination to determine whether the Boston Marathon bombing was deviant or an act of terrorism against governmental power or both (you MUST give a conclusion or you SHALL lose -10 points) that includes reference to EACH of the following paraphrased from class:

“The Boston Marathon is a monument” (Nate a/k/a BC Bud, a traditional student aged Caucasian Canadian student athlete and vigorous participant in class, who gets +5 extra credit points for use of this quote).

“Terrorism is the use of fear and acts of violence in order to intimidate societies or governments. Many different types of social or political organisations (sic) might use terrorism to try to achieve their goals.” (As read by Indigo Team Member Robert, a bi-racial African American/Hispanic 30 –something-year-old professional and married father of one, during News of the Week, for which he gets +5 extra credit points; PS the quote, taken from Wikipedia is cut and pasted, so no typo contest points.)

“No self-respecting black man would make a bomb from – what was it? – a crock pot – it had to be white guys who did this.” (As commented upon by the famous wordsmith Sam, a 30-something-year-old professional African American married man with two children, who has met with agreement both east and west, and north and south of the Mason Dixon line, Sam also gets +5 extra credit points and full quote attribution.)

OPTION A EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITY: Were there issues of social stratification that led to the actions of the brothers in the Boston Marathon Bombing? (PS this is not a yes or no question – please justify your opinion with critical thinking and analysis with a +5 for each argument pro or con.)

I have spent much of today reading insightful essays by these and other students, of varying ages, races, nationalities, majors, life experiences, and who had little in common other than the college and course they were enrolled in. The essays I have been reading threading these three into a common unifying narrative have been compelling and heartbreaking, and supported by more than any mere textbook (no disrespect to Anthony Giddens, who was the Pro-Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science while I was earning my PhD from the Department of Law and the Department of Sociology – i.e., Giddens’ home educational and topical ground). This morning, over an insufficient amount of caffeine, I read of the distinctions (and commonalities) between homeland terrorism and deviance, race and ethnicity in terms of mass murder profiles, and comparisons of the Boston Marathon to a World Trade Center most are too young to remember other than as a crime scene and now a rebuilding site.

For a break from these (and the Option B comparison of The Laramie Project, Django Unchained and the recent controversial staging at BAM of Julius Caesar), I turned on my Twitter. The first thing I saw, just a few moments ago, was that there was a parade shooting in New Orleans, where I was just 4 days ago, and literally flying back to administer my final examination. Leaving aside my new reluctance to state where my business travels will take me, I leave this contemplation with a question, which I ask not as a criminal lawyer but as a college professor and as the aunt of a young man about to leave home for his first college experience, which I hope to be replete with sports and romance (as well as studies and student service learning) and devoid of victimology. Are sporting and parade events the new school shootings? Alternatively phrased, was the Boston Marathon this decade’s Columbine, a harbinger of what is to come?

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.

News of the Week: Homeland Security, Sexuality and the Law, Labor and Unions

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. HOMELAND SECURITY/DEVIANCE/SOCIAL MOVEMENTS/THE SAM RACE COMMENTARYABOUT THE POT NOT BEING ABLE TO CALL THE KETTLE BLACK:  Boston Marathon Bombing: The latest is three more suspects. Is it deviance or terrorism or both? Note: Sam still rules, no black men are in custody.  PS Sam is now famous south of the Mason Dixon line, and should be readying himself for The Daily Show or Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time!

2. MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY/SOCIOLOGY OF AGE (AND YOUTH)/SEXUALITY/GENDER.LAW AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM/REGULATORY MECHANISMS:  On the television news today (NY1), there was a report that the FDA is going to lower the legal age for young women to be able to get Plan B (also known as “the morning after pill”) if they can prove they are 15 (one-five, PS you may or may not want to consider discussing statutory rape here, too).  In part, this is in response to a recent ruling by Brooklyn Federal Judge Edward Korman a few weeks ago, to the effect that drugstores should be required to make the drug available to women (and young women) of any age. What is your opinion of this?. And, further, what is your opinion of this SPECIFICALLY IN RELATION TO AGE, GIVEN LAST WEEK’S PROPOSED QUESTION REGARDING CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE QUINN’S EFFORTS TO RAISE THE LEGAL AGE TO PURCHASE TOBACCO CIGARETTES TO 21?

3. LABOR AND UNIONS/SOCIAL INEQUALITY/SOCIAL MOVEMENTS/MAY DAY:  Today is the celebration of “May Day,” in honor of union protest rallies (this year, in Union Square, supposedly the Occupy Wall Street movement protesters will join). Last week, there was a scandalous Indian factory collapse (check out the cover story of The New York Times, “Tears and Rage as Hope Fades in Bangladesh,” by Jim Yardley, regarding the 337 dead in the deadliest accident in the garment industry’s history (650 survivors have horrific injuries, and among the missing are many whose relatives are holding  up pictures in images reminiscent of post-9/11 New York). Is that the “triangle factory” of India?

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.

News of the Week: Homeland Security, Social Media, and Sociology of Health

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. HOMELAND SECURITY/TERRORISM AND DEVIANCE.SOCIALIZATION/THE POLITICS OF RECOVERY: First, what do you think of the fact that everyone who ran the London Marathon had black ribbons, as a show of support for Boston? As a second, different approach, the team can discuss the question of whether the two young men, the Tsarnaev brothers, who did this (apparently, from what we know so far, without tie-in to a terrorist organization or cell) are true terrorists (for example, as having a political goal) or mass murderers aspiring to be terrorists (i.e., deviant, but not terrorists). Reference to readings might be helpful here.  Third, there were reports on television yesterday (though I saw it originally in a “blurb” on the front page of The Wall Street Journal) that in Canada, two non-Canadian men were charged with planning a terror attack to derail a passenger train in Toronto, and who allegedly did receive what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors called “guidance” from al Quaeda “related elements in Iran.”
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY:  This morning, on the NBC Today Show, reported that Associated Press’ Twitter was hacked and had a FALSE tweet  to the effect of “breaking, 2 bombs exploded at the White House, Barack Obama injured.”  The AP has suspended its twitter account, but not before Wall Street took a hit and fall, as well as rumors (on the twittersphere) circulating as to the identity and purpose of the (non-existent) bombing.  As was noted on the program, Twitter is a huge tool, and indeed was largely credited with the Tunisia revolutions, which precipitated the Arab Spring (among other things). So, how to protect oneself, one’s organization, one’s techno-integrity? How is this a “social issue”?  See Kashmir Hill’s article posted on Forbes.com, “AP Hack Highlights Two Crucial Features Twitter Needs,” where in pertinent part, she writes, The hacking suggests two features that Twitter desperately needs: better security through two-factor authentication and an editorial function that allows account holders to post corrections to tweets that contain false information.”
  3. DRUGS?/SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH AND MEDICINE/AGE RELATED MARGINALIZATION:  On NY1 (television show, see also www.ny1.com), there was a report (with an interview by Mayoral-hopeful Christine Quinn) that there is an effort to raise the legal age of smoking (tobacco, not weed) to 21.  While I usually have this discussion with regard to drinking alcohol (and  you can still draw parallels), what do you think about this?

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.

News of the Week: Homeland Security, Medical Sociology, and Provocation

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. HOMELAND SECURITY/DEVIANCE/SPORTS AND SOCIALIYATION: The Boston Marathon Bombing, which everyone knows about (actually cannot avoid, as it is all over web, tv, radio, etc.). There are many possible approaches to this, and I will let the team take the approach they wish. NOTE: All of our hearts go out to friends, family, and Boston, which, but for a change of schedule, I was meant to be in this week, instead of last week. If anyone in the class has a directconnection, we are all so sorry and empathetic. Also, if anyone gets upset, that is ok, too, especially if there are personal connections. We are here/there for you!

2. DEVIANCE/MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY/LAW AND SOCIETY: This week, a jury is being selected in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of pop star Michael Jackson against AEG (the concert promoter) for negligent hiring of (now convicted) Dr. Conrad Murray. Murray is currently serving out part of a four-year sentence for negligent homicide, relating to giving Jackson propofol  (a hospital grade anesthetic) among other drugs on the night of his death. Murray is currently on appeal (one reason is so that he can get his medical license back – should he?) and reputedly won’t testify in the civil suit (though he gave press interviews after his jury verdict and before sentence, and also last week). Was Murray deviant or not? Was AEG negligent (deviant) in hiring Murray? Check out web or news articles, most recently, “Michael Jackson Trial: AEG Live Prepares for Court Battle.

3. FAMILIES/DEVIANCE/LAW AND SOCIETY: On April 14, 2014, the Houston Chronicle had a front-page article on Section B, “No Early Release this Year for Clara Harris,” by Mike Glenn. Harris made front-page headlines (and almost every television outlet) 10 years ago when she ran over her “cheating husband.” Consider this – men who kill their cheating wives are frequently given the legal mitigation of extreme emotional disturbance or of “provocation,” why not this woman? (There is actually a reason in this case, but it is a fair question for analytical analysis and critical thinking and in fairness, it could go either way.)

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.

News of the Week: Marriage Equality, Gun Control, and Rape Culture

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. FAMILIES/GENDER AND SEXUALITY/LAW AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM/SOCIAL INEQUALITY/MARRIAGE EQUALITY OR DEVIANCE AND CONFORMITY:  On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, banning same sex marriage and on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, the Court is hearing a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), according to which marriage is solely between a man and a woman. What have you read/heard/researched about the cases and arguments, and which side of the debate are you on (and why)?
  2. GUNS/LAW AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM/HOMELAND SECURITY MATTERSMEDIA:  On NY1 today, Mayor Bloomberg went on television to deride the NRA making commercials referencing the Newtown school shooting tragedy. Check out the Fox News piece, “NRA chief says Bloomberg can’t buy America amid $12 million gun control ad blitz.”  Note, New York was the first state to pass anti-gun legislation post-Sandy Hook and there is pending civil litigation on this.  According to the piece, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre on Sunday challenged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to spend $12 million on ads meant to pressure senators into backing strict new gun control measures, saying Bloomberg "can't buy America." Bloomberg's pro-gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching the campaign in states where senators may be on the fence regarding a package of firearms proposals making its way to the Senate floor.”
  3. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT/LAW AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM/GENDER AND “RAPE CULTURE”/SPORTS AND THE LAW/JUVENILE DELINQUENCY OR ADULT CRIMINAL CONDUCT:  In a very different case than last week’s GREEN TEAM News on the Greek soccer player being banned for using the Nazi salute, tow young men (Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond), who were football players in Steubenville, Ohio, were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl and sentenced to serve (short) time pursuant to the state juvenile justice system.  Mays is going in for “at least two years” and Richmond “for at least one.”  Kimberly Tan (who is also a 16-year-old student, from San Jose, California), wrote a blog piece for The Huffington Post, entitled, “Misogyny, Objectification and the Steubenville Rape Case,” expressing outrage that the press has been focusing upon “how the convicted rapists – with ‘such promising futures … literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”.”)  Tan argues that “the media outpouring of sympathy toward the defendants perpetuate what has been aptly termed a ‘rape culture,’ where rape and violence are accepted and even condoned by society.” What do you think of this argument?

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.

Hurricane Sandy and Visual Sociology

Nickie Phillips

Demetra Pappas offered her students an opportunity to create a visual sociology assignment in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Valia Haskopoulos and Kelsey Papanicolaou document their friend's personal loss on "The Sociology Assignment:  When Visual Images of Hurricane Sandy Got Personal."

Note from Dr. Demetra Pappas: In late-October 2012, I was preparing to give a midterm essay to my Sociology class. Then Hurricane Sandy hit and I decided to provide an out-of-class exercise option for my students.  This visual sociology exercise allowed students to capture something that touched them personally about the storm. One by Valia Haskopoulos and Kelsey Papanicolaou told the story of their friend, Leah Vanden Bosch, whose home in Long Beach was destroyed.  

For more go to SocialShutter.

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 www.nyt.com 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.

Snitch The Movie: The War on Drugs and Mandatory Minimums

Nickie Phillips

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M1dkvdCUGU The film "Snitch" tells the story of a father, John Matthews (Dwyane Johnson), whose son is arrested for drug dealing and faces a 10 year minimum sentence. Matthews agrees to become an informant for the state in exchange for a sentence reduction for his son. Young Minds Inspired, an educational outreach program, recommends using the film to spark discussion among students:

Bring your students into the conversation surrounding the new film Snitch, opening in theaters nationwide on February 22, 2013. Inspired by the true experiences of a teenager who became caught up in the legal machinery of drug enforcement, Snitch opens debate on the controversial connection between mandatory sentencing and what has come to be called “snitching,” offering an inside look at a little known aspect of our justice system.

Download YMI's mandatory minimum factsheets here.

News of the Week: Cultural Thinness, Race, and Django Unchained

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. GENDER/FAT B****HES (AS OPPOSED TO OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESSES PHAT B****HES)/DEVIANCE/SOCIOLOGY OF MEDICINE/MEDIA/NON-MATERIAL CULTURE AND THE CULTURE OF THINNESS;  New York Observer film critic Rex Reed, reviewing the movie Identity Thief, called actress Melissa McCarthy “a female hippo” and “tractor sized” in an excoriating review of her work,  This has set off a storm in the Twittersphere and I note that McCarthy, who is Emmy nominated for her work in Mike and Molly a comedy about a fat couple) and Oscar nominated for her work in Bridesmaids is laughing all the way to the bank.  Question – would Reed have said these comments about a fat male actor (such as, say, John Goodman, of Roseanne fame, and this year’s Oscar nominated Argo)?  Note that the Hollywood community, ordinarily known for a culture of thinness, had attacked Rex and defended McCarthy.
  2. RACE/SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS/RELIGION:  Unless you have been in a cave and not at SFC AND not watching news or surfing the net or reading papers, you know that Pope Benedict is retiring (the first such retiree in approximately 700 years).  Among the candidates for the next Pope is Ghana native, Peter Cardinal Turkson, who is black.  On yesterday’s “Hot Topics” segment of The View, Whoppi Goldberg (who is African American, just in case you don’t know that already), asked “What about a black Pope? We have a black President…”  (www.abc.com). PS In today’s issue of The Daily News, Christine Roberts and Corky Siemasko note that the Cardinal was nearly arrested for being in the upstate seminary after hours (where he was working and cleaning, not to suggest racial profiling…).
  3. RACE/DRAMATURGY/MEDIA:  Why did Frank Rich, writing for New York Magazine, February 11, 2013, say (indeed, in the cover story), “How Django Unchained Renewed My Faith in America (and Other Notes on the Oscar Race)?

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.

News of the Week: Superbowl, Security Training, and Kings and the Culture of Celebrity

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. News of the Week - February 6, 2013 -

Choose 1 of the following topics to discuss.  You do not have to agree as to what you think about the topic (but do have to agree which topic to discuss). Assume that you have 10 minutes to talk to each other (at the front of the room).  I will moderate (in academese, this is called “chairing”).  The student body members will treat you with absolute courtesy and respect (or else get respect penalties, if they “diss” you).

  1. FOOTBALL AS SOCIALIZATION/MEDIA:   Usually, I have a discussion of teams, or, as with last year, MIA’s “flipping off” the audience during Madonna’s half-time presentation.  Here, everyone agrees Beyonce/Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook school kids rocked the house.  What people don’t agree about is what the social impact (on the players, on the audience, etc.) of the “34 minute blackout” is. Check out the National Geographic piece online, Brad Scriber, for National Geographic News, published February 4, 2013. Why is this blackout (of one-half or one-side of the Superdome) so newsworthy?  PS There is a Hurricane Sandy tie-in.
  2. HOMELAND SECURITY TRAINING/SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION/EDUCATION/GUNS:  This morning, on the 7AM half-hour of NBC’s Today show, was a presentation of a training exercise/video for “what to do in a school shooting” conducted in Modesto, California (I tried to google it, but it is not yet online). The exercise used teeanage actors as students.  NOTE:  The exercise was altered as a result of the Sandy Hook/Newtown massacre in December. (let us find out how…. perhaps to further the discussion when the unit comes up later in the semester).  Following the presentation, there was also discussion of a Homeland Security “active violence/workplace shooter” protocol (downloadable) pertaining to workplace shootings.  Matt Lauer (the moderator/anchor) noted that there have been over 180 gun massacres since the 1999 Columbine school shooting.  Why are gun crimes of such magnitude a “new normal”? What social factors may have come into play?
  3. SOCIOLOGY OF DEATH/KINGS AND THE CULTURE OF CELEBRITY:  ED KOCH AND KING RICHARDABILITY AND DISABILITY .  Former 3-term New York Mayor Ed Koch died this past week, and his funeral was broadcast Monday (pre-empting all other television, which would have pleased him almost as much as – according to one of the eulogies – his death took place around the same time as the release of a documentary about him).  In other news, this past week, the remains of Richard III, who died in 1485 (and about whom Shakespeare wrote a play) were allegedly discovered to be authentic after they were unearthed from under a parking lot in Leicester, England (ruined friary) .  Which is more newsworthy?

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.

Perspectives on Society and Culture in the 1960s

Nickie Phillips

This semester, the Spring 2013 lecture series at SFC features guest speakers such as Todd Gitlin, David Greenberg, and others.  See below for the full schedule. The lectures are held at: St. Francis College 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY

When:  Tuesdays at 11:10 in Room 4202 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday – February 5, 2013 Vaneshran Arumugam on Evolving as Social Activist: Growing Up Under South African Apartheid

Thursday - February 07, 2013 Mark Naison on Civil Rights in New York: The Political and the Personal *11:10 AM in Room 6214

Tuesday - February 12, 2013 Todd Gitlin on Students for a Democratic Society and the Legacy of Youth Protest

Tuesday - February 26, 2013 Arnold Sparr, Msgr. LoPinto, and Tom Cornell: After 50 Years: How Did Vatican II Change the Church?

Tuesday –March 19, 2013 Emily Horowitz on the New Feminist Movement & 2nd Wave Feminism

Tuesday- March 26, 2013 Arnold Sparr and Tom Cornell on Catholic Social Thought Since Vatican II: Dorothy Day, Non-Violent Protest and the Anti-War Catholic Left

Tuesday- April 2, 2013 Sara Haviland on Black Arts and the Black and Left in the 1960s

Tuesday- April 9, 2013 Chris Mitchell on the Gay Rights Movement

Tuesday- April 16, 2013 Arnold Sparr on the Catholic Anti-War Movement & the Catonsville/Camden 28 Trials

Tuesday- April 23, 2013 David Greenberg on Richard M. Nixon and New Conservatism

Tuesday – April 30, 2013 Philip Napoli on New York City’s Vietnam Veterans

The Exonerated: A Pedagogical Exercise

Nickie Phillips

The Exonerated:  A Pedagogical Exercise Adapted From Non-Fiction Narrative Dramaturgical Work to Stimulate Critical Thinking Among Sociology/Criminology/Legal Studies/Anthropology Students In November, the editors of CrimCast posted a review of my piece, The Exonerated: Theater Speaks the Words of Life Before and After Death Row, published on CrimCast. I sent around copies to some colleagues in a variety of disciplines, prompting a kind and enthusiastic response from my friend, Professor Barbara Hart, who teaches Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at Tyler. Professor Hart, whose Texas teaching has her situated geographically far from the New York theater community and The Culture Club (which was the original and recent home of the theatrical production, which included A-list movie and theater stars, and even more compellingly, actual exonerees engaging in the staged reading of their transcribed words) asked the following: “The play is such a testament to the problems with the death penalty.  I wonder how to work it into the curriculum – or least excerpts from it” (e-mail from Barbara Hart, December 3, 2012).  This has been a question for me, as well, as students cannot necessarily afford theater tickets and given the logistical fact that most plays are short lasting (to a “season” of a semesterly nature of Fall and Spring in the New York cycles). Accordingly, during some semesters, I show the 90-minute film version of the play.  For me, this works especially well among evening students (where I have a 3-hour chunk, and during the course of a semesterly team project, about which I presented at the 2012 International Visual Sociology Association, in a paper entitled, “The Team Project: Introducing College Students to Field Work as a Sociological Technique”).  In fact, I have this in class showing when I cannot get my classes to an actual cinema or theater with a show relating to course materials and topics (read, if I have a shorter class, such as last semester’s 2-hour Tuesday slot, or if there are what we euphemize as “weather events”). Also, during some semesters, I offer an essay option on either the take home research exercise or the final in room essay.  Here, in honor of a colleague who is currently teaching an intensive multi-hour per day winter session (in which a variety of exercises each day are necessary for intellectual and attention survival of both students and instructors), I am reprinting the team project version of the exercise, though it can certainly be adapted for individual work (rather than group work).  This particular exercise, for a Principles of Sociology class, was broken down into two classes (a 2-hour viewing and discussion, and 1-hour team work day), to style after a fashion of the original 3-hour evening class pedagogical design.  The assignment is as originally constructed, and includes accommodations for students who had excused absences (a good model generally);  I note that the final “handin” of the project was deferred due to complications arising out of Hurricane Sandy, but that each team produced interesting and fresh perspectives.

MOVIE NIGHT (2 DAYS) ASSIGNMENT:  The Exonerated

On October 23, 2012, the class had a full viewing of the 2005 movie, The Exonerated, based upon the real life experiences of 6 exonerated death row prisoners (and the deceased executed Jesse, who was Sunny's husband).

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, the class had a debriefing worksheet exercise, at which full attendance is required for this assessed exercise. (Another way of saying this is that anyone awol without documented proof of immediate personal involvement of themselves in a birth, a death, a hospitalization or an incarceration or something that Pappas deems equally dramatic, with full proof, will get a 0 for this evolution of the team project).

TEAMS HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED TO EACH HAVE ONE SPECIAL EXONEREE TO FOLLOW: RED:  Gary (Brian Dennehy) ORANGE: Robert Earl Hayes (David Brown, Jr.) YELLOW:  Kerry Max Cook (Aidan Quinn) GREEN:  David Keaton (Danny Glover) BLUE:  Sunny (Susan Sarandon) INDIGO:  Jesse (no actor, as executed prior to exoneration) VIOLET:  Delbert Tibbs (Delroy Lindo)

YOUR TEAM COLOR IS ____________________________________

PARTICIPATING MEMBERS IN CLASS ARE:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

QUESTIONS (ANSWERS MAY BE TYPED OR HANDWRITTEN, AND EACH SHOULD BE ABOUT A PARAGRAPH IN LENGTH AND REFERENCE SOCIOLOGICAL LANGUAGE FROM THE TEXT OR READINGS):

1. What were the personal troubles and/or areas in which s/he was marginalized (example race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, socio-economic status)?  What of these might have led to their PERSONAL TROUBLES (remember : "The Promise/The Sociological Eye”) and to their arrest? 2. What in particular do you think led to these exonerees being convicted at trial, notwithstanding that they were innocents?  Another way of asking this is what about the social institutions/social organizations came into play and marginalized them further. Please be specific and you answer should be DIFFERENT than to answer 1. 3. How was your designated exoneree socialized into becoming a prisoner (a convict) once incarcerated? Was it "traditional" socialization or was it deviant from social institutionalization generally? 4. What led to the appeal and release of your designated exoneree (or, for the team working on Jesse, what led to the exoneration and clearance of his good name post-mortem)? 5. Was your exoneree re-integrated (assimilated) back into society generally after his/her release?  What challenges did he/she face? How did your exoneree overcome these? PS You should feel free to refer to family structures, job structures, religious institutions and beliefs, material and non-material culture. 6. BONUS ROUND FOR +5 TOWARD THE MIDTERM ESSAY FOR EACH MEMBER WHO PARTICIPATES (SLACKERS GET NOTHING):  Consider the film’s dramaturgical construction (if you look in the back index of our textbook, there should be a 5 page entry listed).  Teams aiming for the brass ring should write at least 6 sentences (average team number is 6) describing what dramaturgy is, who is a major proponent of the sociological discussion of dramaturgy, how does dramaturgy relate in court, how does dramaturgy relate on the movie?

As an aside, in the class debrief, students who were both in favor of, and in opposition to, the death penalty, had an opportunity to voice and to hear different perspectives.  Perhaps some moved in their views, perhaps not, but all who spoke (and a large proportion of the class did so with enthusiasm and liveliness) had particularized comments that pointed them toward further critical thinking, with their teams, and perhaps with their friends, families and colleagues. Professor Barbara Hart pointed me toward sharing this exercise, and furthering easy access to a non-New York based viewing – and reviewing – student audience, and I thank my friend and colleague for so doing!

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD teaches in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at St. Francis College, where she was named the 2011/2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year.  Earlier this year, Greenwood Press published her first book, The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate, which focused upon the aspect of criminal liability of doctors who engage in life-shortening activity, and upon the role of the media in these cases in furthering the debate, both pro and con.

Criminal Justice in the Arts Podcast featuring Michael Bush

Nickie Phillips

Michael Bush

In this episode Michael Bush, assistant professor of criminal justice at Northern Kentucky University, joins us to discuss incorporating art and popular culture as pedagogical tools into the criminal justice curriculum.

References

Bush, M. D. (2012). “Criminal justice in the arts: An exploration into creative criminal justice pedagogy.” Presented at the International Crime, Media, and Popular Culture Studies Conference at Indiana State University.

Burke, A. S. and Bush, M. D. (2012). “Service learning and criminal justice: An exploratory study of student perceptions.” Educational Review.

Dodson, K. D., Bush, M. D. & Braswell, M. (2012). “Teaching peacemaking in criminal justice: Experiential applications.” The Journal of Criminal Justice Education.

Kappeler, V. & Potter, G. (2004). Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Messner, S. & Rosenfeld, R. (2006). Crime and the American Dream. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Random Superhero Generator

Further Listening:

Johnny Cash

Tracey Chapman

Clinton Clegg & the Backstabbing Good People

 

 

News of the Week: Marijuana Arrests, Urban Youth Farms, and Sociology of Death & Medicine

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. DEVIANCE AND CONFORMITY/DECRIMINALIZATION AND LEGALIZATION/POLICING/SOCIOLOGY OF LAW:  On Friday, November 23, 2012, on p. A34,  The New York Times has an Op-Ed piece entitled, “An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime:  Arrests for Small Amounts of Marijuana Don’t Serve Public Interest.”  The questions is whether or not NYPD officers should or should not follow instructions by PC Ray Kelly  to follow a 1977 law that bars police officers from arresting people for small amounts of marijuana unless publicly displayed (NB there was an infamous case of a Kings County ADA who refused to ditch his joint when asked to by police in front of Madison Square Garden a few years ago, and there is a legally pathbreaking case, People v. Taveras, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, 155 A.D.2d 131; 553 N.Y.S.2d 305; 1990 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2945, March 22, 1990 ,  Leave to appeal granted May 7, 1990, a controversial case which established the “law of the crotch” (geographically specific bulge cases for those of you who are Fourth Amendment mavens) in regard to drug cases, and which was protested by some women because five male judges sat on the case – the punch line is that a 30 year old woman researched and wrote the decision, which admittedly has some unintentionally entertaining aspects).  On Monday, November 26, on The View’(www.abc.com) “Hot Topics” segment, Whoppi Goldberg et al. argued very persuasively – socially, as well as legally, as concerns DWI and other issues – that recreational marijuana should, like Colorado, be legal.
  2. EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION/SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION/URBAN YOUTH FARMS/SLOW FOODS MOVEMNT (SEED TO PLATE):  On November 24, Lisa Foderaro posted an article online for The New York Times,  “Schools Add In House Farms as Teaching Tools in New York City,” http://nyti.ms/10LZLIE. Educational gardens provide an opportunity to “explore culinary culture and travel, easy entrees to compare cultures,” as I wrote in “ Shreveport , Louisiana ’s Educational Responses to a Food Desert : The Stoner Hill Youth Garden and Urban Farm,” The New York Resident, August 2012, p. 121 (you may find this at www.resident.com, by searching the August 2012 archive and paging through to p. 121). How might they also provide suggestions for alternative routes out of poverty, other than deviance and illegal subcultures, and promoted pursuing higher educational or military options?
  3. SOCIOLOGY OF DEATH AND MEDICINE /SOCIOLOGY OF MEDICINE/EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES:  This weekend, a Florida woman died after spending over 40 years in a coma. Edwarda O’Bara was a 16-year-old girl in 1970 when she got sick from diabetes medication and lapsed into a coma. She was maintained for all these years by virtue of medical technology. NOTE:  THIS MEDICAL CASE HAPPENED 3 YEARS BEFORE THE KAREN ANN QUINLAN CASE WENT TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY.  In view of our readings on family, the changes in sociology of death, sociology of health and medicine, how might O’Bara’s treatment be different (or not) today. NB: see also this NBC News article.

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.

News of the Week: Stalking, Weed, and Natural Disasters

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. FAMILIES/SOCIALIZATION/SOCIOLOGY OF DEVIANCE/THE STALK TALK AND THE GRANDSON OF STALK TALK (i.e. THE STALKED STUDENT): Last week, CIA Director David Patraeus (recently ex-miliatary as a General) resigned from his post.  At the time, there was vague commentary of an affair.  Then, the next disclosure was that his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Next, there were allegations of extramarital visits (for both, as they are each married) during her interview visits to him during military service. (Note that in the military, adultery is a prosecutable offense – question as to why this might be important in the socialization process and in the social order and organization.)  Then on Monday, the other shoe dropped:  there were thousands of e-mails between the two, some very explicit, on Broadwell’s now confiscated computer.  And, as the world turns (a media reference), Broadwell apparently engaged in what today’s New York Times, in an article posted by Elizabeth Bumiller, called “inappropriate communications” with Patraeus family friend Jill Kelly (also married). The only thing being said about Mrs. Patraeus is that she is furious (with her husband).  So many possible ways for a Sociology News of the Week Panel to approach this, and almost as many ways for a Victimology class to do so (for example, what, if any conduct would be illegal under New York’s anti-stalking legislation?).
  2. ELECTIONS/SOCIAL NORMS/DEVIANCE AND CONFORMITY/METHODOLOGY AND THE GRASS CLASS REDUX:  On Election Day, a proposition passed in Colorado to allow for legal, recreational use of marijuana in a non-medical way. This prompted NBC News anchor Brian Williams to comment on “legal weed,” which was a minor media circus (he looks very conservative in appearance, and the weed comment was unscripted, apparently) and we won’t even discuss what Bill Maher said in Friday’s monologue on HBO’s real time (or will we)? What do you think, vis a vis our early in the semester discussions?
  3. NATURAL DISASTERS/SOCIAL RESPONSES TO FLOODS:  Last week, on New York 1, there were compelling images of rushing and gushing waters in Venice. One of these showed a man smiling and cheerfully swimming in the flood waters, which currently (as of yesterday, per New York 1) have Venice 70 % under water. Note, there is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the waters rising there in autumn, called “agua terra” (water earth). This is international news, by virtue of international news reports, but being reported in a different way than the Hurricane Sandy reports – why?

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.

News of the Week: Natural Disasters, Social Disorganization, and Elections

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. NATURAL DISASTERS/SOCIAL INEQUALITY/SPORTS:  Should the New York Marathon have been cancelled this past Sunday after the impact of Hurricane Sandy? If yes, should it have been cancelled sooner? What arguments regarding social inequality may be made in this regard?
  2. SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS/SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE (HISTORY):  Do you think FEMA did a good job in the New York tri-state after Hurricane Sandy? What surprises in the recovery (good or bad) do you wish to comment on?
  3. NATIONAL ELECTIONS/NATURAL DISASTERS:  What impact has Hurricane Sandy had thus far upon the vote in the national election? Do you think there will be a national bump or dump as a result of Sandy and the political arena afterward?

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.

News of The Week: Social Inequality, Doping, and Medical Sociology

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. SOCIAL INEQUALITY/THE GREAT DEBATE (OR WAS IT?)/SOCIAL INTERACTION/DEBATE ETIQUETTE/”GENDERED” CONDUCT (OR NOT)? On October 15, President Obama (who showed signs of coming out of the coma he was in during debate #1) and Mitt Romney had their second Presidential debate. They spent a lot of time on taxes, single mothers, student loans – in other words things that relate to social inequality and social stratification.  In addition, they engaged in a town hall format (questions from the audience), in which they variously were confrontational (with each other – though some thought they were confrontational and rude to moderator Candy Crowley of CNN, raiding gendered issues and manners issues generally), “invaded each others space,” engaged in pointing (which is considered unacceptable in language and non-verbal symbolic communication in American society).  What did you think of the debate (please only take this option if you watched the debated in its entirety of 90 minutes or if you saw “significant” outtakes of substantial amounts of time)?
  2. DEVIANCE (OR NOT)/ILLEGAL “DOPING”/TEAM SPORTS/CULTURE/MEDIA. On Thursday of last week, The New York Times had a front-page article, Details of Doping Scheme Paint Armstrong as Leader,” by Juliet Macur, about (stripped) Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong “forcing” by intimidation and other means his teammates to “dope” (take steroids and performance enhancing drugs).  On October 17, 2012, Armstrong stepped down as head of his Livestrong Foundation,” (which has as its mission to unite, inspire and empower those affected by cancer, according to its web paee)  saying that the media attention to his alleged doping (actually proven with multiple teammates testifying, blood work, etc – see the NYT piece) that he continues to deny is nonetheless drawing attention from his foundation work. In addition, according to the October 17, 2012 article by Michael O'Keeffe, Nike has ended its sponsorship relationship with Armstrong, for reasons relating to the “mounting evidence.”  Doping is apparently very common in sports – so much so, that it may be viewed as an “illegal” subculture, rather than a counterculture (which is more likely to be illegal).  Compare this to last week’s news piece where a school suspended students for drinking supercaffeinated beverages – are they the same or different, and why or why not?
  3. MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY/FAMILIES/SOCIAL INEQUALITY:  As of October 17, 2012, the town of San Rafael is banning smoking INDOORS in two and three family homes. Is this reasonable regulation or unreasonable imposition on lower income families (high income families usually have a McMansion)?

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.

News of The Week: Crime, Voting, and Community Organization

Nickie Phillips

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD will be contributing "News of the Week" short topics, which she uses as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course. This year, she published a peer reviewed piece, "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.  After reviewing that piece, she noticed a trend for students to pick celebrity and criminal law related topics, such as the trial and sentencing of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson; stalking of celebrities and average people; and cross-cultural.comparative dramaturgy in criminal trials. What follows is a sample of her classroom exercises.  Please choose ONE of the following THREE options.  Assume that the team will have 10 minutes to discuss (if time permits and if the team is keen to have more time, I will allow a bit more).

1.  DEVIANCE/CRIME AND PUNISHMENT/FOOTBALL AS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION/EDUCATION:  On October 9, 2012, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced to a period of incarceration (prison term) from 30-60 years for sexually abusing young male football players involved in Penn State’s football program (which cost the University President, Graham B. Spanier, his job, as well as previously revered football coach Joe Peterno, whose statue was taken down at Penn).  Penn has acknowledged that it will have to pay the victims compensation (money) for the many abusive acts that were disregarded (or denounced) by the school and its officials, all of whom turned a blind eye (ignored) to what resulted in 45 counts of abuse.  As for Sandusky, he was defiant to the end, making statements prior to sentencing denouncing the veracity (honesty) of the 10 boys (all from disadvantaged homes) who had been abused. Furtter, Sandusky made remarks at his sentencing that were bereft of remorse in the case of this recidivistic (someone who does it again) and unregenerate (someone who does not grow from experiences and do better) defendant.  Note that Sandusky not only used his connections to Penn State’s football program, but had his own charity for disadvantaged youths, called the Second Mile, by which he was able to identify potential victims, grow close, groom them and sexually abuse and violate them.  At sentencing, Sandusky portrayed himself as an underdog being victimized himself by a conspiracy, although several victims spoke movingly and hauntingly at the sentencing proceeding, and the night before, news played tapes of him insisting that the only person he ever had sex with was his wife, Dottie (which opens a whole different discussion regarding what rape is, what sexual predators are, what the theory of victim precipitation is  -- while some of this won’t be discussed academically in class until the second week in November, we can start thinking about it now, and it is newsworthy).  There are too many broadcasts, web reports and articles to count, but a copy of an article by Tim Rohan, writing for The New York Times, should follow these questions (page down).  What does this prosecution and sentencing say about education? About sports programs? About social institutions regarding young persons?

2. VOTING/CROSS-CULTURAL CONSTRUCTIONS:  This past week, Venezuela held a general election.  One news report on Sunday speculated that 90% of Venezuelans were expected to participate in the vote (as opposed to the relatively anemic 45-55% we tend to see in the US – in presidential election years).  While incumbent Chavez has been re-elected, his percentage dropped from 26 in the last election to 8 in the current (so claimed the Grey Lady on October 9, see William Neuman, “Chavez Calls for Unity after Victory in Venezuela, p. A7).  What is important about this to our class? To social institutions? To the sociological imagination? (Hint:  we will be talking about voting rights in this class over the next few weeks – especially with regard to current legislation as to voter ID, for which we will have a guest speaker, social stratification, race/ethnicity and sex/gender, for which I have a film at the prompting of discussion during an earlier news, which I expect to play the first week in November).

3. COMMUNITY/SOCIAL ORGANIZATION FOLLOWING A (NOT-SO-NATURAL) DISASTER/BROOKLYN FOLKWAYS/SOCIAL NORM V. “GOOD” DEVIANCE/TEAMS:  Last week (and reported on NBC News online by Andrew Siff on October 6, 2012), there was a bit on the morning news about a community of Good Samaritans who came together to get a car off of people who had been run over in Bushwick, Brooklyn, last week. (You can find the article on www.nbc.com, www.dailynews.com, and my guess is that it is also a youtube moment).A 770year old driver (NOT the lady who got arrested for refusing to give up her license when she sped because she had to “pee”) accidentally hit a grandmother and toddlers, who got pinned under the ground.  The driver allegedly panicked and hit the gas instead of the break (and ended up stuck in a chain link fence on the sidewalk.  According to www.nbc.com, “bystanders quickly rushed to the victims’ aid and gathered around the car that had pinned” the lady and two children down. Edwin Padua, one of about 20 Good Samaritans, helped to pick up the care and free the trio and “dragged everybody out.” This is a New York story (maybe a BROOKLYN story!).  What do you think of this instant community of saviors within a community? (PS Take a look at the photo essay on “When a Tornado Strikes” in Ch. 4 of Henslin, “Social Structure and Social Interactions” in my book, p. 233-233, but those with the custom course pack can find it by looking up “tornado” in the index of the book, which is a new protocol after the football essay issue).  The tornado essay talks about ensuring loved ones are safe, then helping others, noting in one picture caption that “personal relationships are essential in putting lives together.”  It is highly unlikely that all 20 Bushwick Good Samaritans knew the lady or the toddlers, or even each other, yet they made an instant community that worked together as a team for a common goal (I didn’t forget about the Team Project, and this is a good showing of teaming!). Discuss. PS If the Yellow Team finds it on youtube or NBC news AND can work the tech podium, I am willing to let you show the clip as part of your News of the Week and to give you an extra 5 minutes to do so.