Caught in the Act
A sampling of meticulous mug shots, along with about forty crime-related images from American tabloids, police files, security cameras, and photographers both anonymous and widely known, comprise the fascinating exhibition “Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play,” currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
April 7, 2016
Killing by the Book
What would President Romney do with a drone? This question apparently haunted the White House so much that in the weeks before the election it raced to establish “explicit rules” and “clear standards and procedures” for the use of unmanned drones for targeted killings. But the real problem is not that there are no guidelines written down but that we the people don’t know what they are.
November 28, 2012
The War We Aren’t Debating
It’s a social policy that, many experts agree, has failed miserably since it was introduced more than forty years ago, tearing apart families and communities across the United States, consuming tens of thousands of lives abroad, and squandering huge sums of money. Yet hardly any national politician is willing to challenge it, and it’s been completely ignored during the 2012 presidential campaign. I’m speaking of the war on drugs.
October 22, 2012
More Speech is Better
“Free speech” is not free. It can have serious, even deadly consequences. When a Californian recently uploaded a primitive YouTube video depicting Mohammed engaging in oral sex, it sparked violence and riots throughout the Muslim world. And according to Malise Ruthven in his recent *NYRblog* post, at least sixty people are believed to have been killed in the 1988-1989 riots in Pakistan and India prompted by Salman Rushdie’s *The Satanic Verses*, which satirized Mohammed and depicted his wives as prostitutes. But if we were to start prohibiting speech on the ground that some listeners, somewhere in the world, might be offended and react violently to it, we would be enforcing the worst kind of international “heckler’s veto,” and sanctioning the violence, which is surely more reprehensible than the speech itself.
October 16, 2012
Can Islam Be Criticized?
It may be ironic, but it is not entirely surprising that the YouTube clip of what appears to be a badly made film satirizing the Prophet Muhammad appeared, causing mayhem and destruction—coinciding with the death of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens—in the same week of September that the novelist Salman Rushdie published Joseph Anton. The memoir recounts Rushdie’s life as a “celebrity victim” after Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for his death for offending Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses. Not to be outgunned by the late Ayatollah, the Pakistani railroad minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has now personally offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who murders the maker of Innocence of Muslims, the crude new film.
October 11, 2012