Causal Analysis, Moral Culpability, And Gaza

If X causes Y, and Y causes Z, then surely X is the cause of Z? So goes the intuition–very roughly–that the causal relation is transitive. It thus often underwrites arguments about moral culpability and responsibility–sometimes even in legal settings. If I am the cause for your actions, then I am culpable, by one reckoning,Continue reading “Causal Analysis, Moral Culpability, And Gaza”

Steven Salaita and Academic Freedom in Academic and ‘Non-Academic’ Spaces

Steven Salaita might have thought he was headed for a new faculty position: the University of Illinois had made him a job offer, he had accepted, and resigned his position at Virginia Tech. But not so fast: the Chancellor of the university rescinded the offer, apparently because of Salaita’s aggressively vocal presence on Twitter, whereContinue reading “Steven Salaita and Academic Freedom in Academic and ‘Non-Academic’ Spaces”

Political Schooling Via The Usenet Newsgroup

As my post yesterday should have indicated, we are educated by a variety of modalities. A powerfully formative one for me was my exposure to Usenet newsgroups. I discovered newsgroups in 1988, shortly after I began work as a research assistant with the Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.Continue reading “Political Schooling Via The Usenet Newsgroup”

A Day in Gaol, Part Deux: Notes on Police, Precincts, and Penality

Spending a day in jail has some social scientific value for the temporarily detained; it enables a closer, albeit short-lived, look at the systems of policing and criminal justice. And because I often expend much time on this blog railing against the excesses of the New York City Police Department, it makes especial sense forContinue reading “A Day in Gaol, Part Deux: Notes on Police, Precincts, and Penality”

Bernard-Henri Lévy And The Problem of ‘Selective Outrage’

You, sir, are a knave and a hypocrite. You protest and fulminate when X assaults–or otherwise inflicts harms on–Y, but not when A assaults–or otherwise inflicts harm on–B. Yet the crime is the same in each case. Your outrage is selective. I do not, therefore, trust your motives, and will ignore your crocodile tears, yourContinue reading “Bernard-Henri Lévy And The Problem of ‘Selective Outrage’”

Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?

A Facebook friend of mine asked in response to my posts and photos about yesterday’s protest at the Israeli mission to the UN: It seems as though you all knew you were going to get arrested and almost seem proud of that? Isn’t there a way to protest without being arrested? This is a veryContinue reading “Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?”

Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol

Earlier today, during the course of a peaceful civil disobedience action–at the Israeli mission to the UN, on Manhattan’s East Side–protesting the humanitarian catastrophe currently underway in the Gaza Strip, twenty-six protesters, including moi, were arrested and taken in custody. The protesters included Norman Finkelstein, my Brooklyn College colleague Corey Robin, and my cellmate for theContinue reading “Protesting For Gaza: A Day in Gaol”

Noam Chomsky, My Palestinian Student, and a Gift

A few years ago, at Brooklyn College, I taught a class on the formal theory of computation. We covered the usual topics: finite state automata, context-free grammars, Turing machines, computational complexity. As we worked through the theory of context-free grammars, I introduced my students to the concept of their Chomsky normal forms.  As a quick preliminary,Continue reading “Noam Chomsky, My Palestinian Student, and a Gift”

The Asymmetric Fallout of Operation Protective Edge

‘Collateral damage‘ and ‘friendly fire‘ seem to be two euphemisms with which we–as a civilization–are doomed to be persistently reacquainted. Especially if war continues to retain its popularity as an instrument of foreign policy or even law and order maintenance. Which brings me, of course, to Israel, Gaza, and Hamas. Cycle of violence narratives areContinue reading “The Asymmetric Fallout of Operation Protective Edge”

#SderotCinema: War, the Oldest Spectator Sport

News of Israelis watching the bombardment of Gaza–lounging on chairs, perhaps after dinner, smoking hookahs, chatting among themselves–has set many fingers racing on keyboards the world over, pointing to what may seem like a particularly bizarre and novel voyeuristic exploration of the suffering of others. Imagine, people gathering to watch acts of violence. Safely, fromContinue reading “#SderotCinema: War, the Oldest Spectator Sport”