Another young White cisgender man has murdered another group of non-White people, and once again, White brows are furrowing over whether his conduct was racially motivated. Was it a “hate crime,” they ask? How will we ever know? Oh, perhaps we should ask him — because, sure, that’s how you figure it out.

When a man who beats his wife to death is asked why he did it, if he says, “Because she burned my dinner,” do we conclude that it must have been culinary incompetence, and not sex/gender, that motivated that crime? Hardly. Because you don’t have to be…


How to make it up to the high school and college students we’ve let down so badly.

Graduating high school seniors had just about the worst last semester of high school imaginable. No spring musical, no prom. No graduation, and no graduation parties. Trapped at home, with your family. No spring college visits as those decision dates approached. And now, probably, no college to go to. Things were pretty lousy for enrolled college students, too — who were sent home in March, on very little notice, for an indefinite week or two that turned out to be the entire semester.

And now, those new freshman, and the rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors, have no college to go…


Also, they seem to care whether she lives or dies.

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

At the worst possible time — a few months into the global pandemic the U.S. is unable or unwilling to manage intelligently — my sister and I found ourselves needing to move our 79-year-old mother into an assisted living facility. You know, those places that have been an epicenter of COVID-19 mortality, as Rachel Maddow and others never tire of reminding us? In mid-April, our mother, who had been living alone in the suburban home she and my father bought in the summer of 1969, had a medical crisis that required hospitalization. …


Sex, gender, race and ethnicity in contemporary protest art

[blood/red paint on white background]

On June 26, 2020, The New York Times published an op-ed by Caroline Randall Williams that begins with a line now permanently seared on my memory: “I have rape-colored skin.” In the piece, Williams describes her personal history as the descendant of slave-owning (and other) White men and the sexually victimized Black women they enslaved or, later, employed as domestic help. The essay’s title, “You Want a Confederate Monument? …


It is not a performative distraction. It is an American Guernica.

This piece has been updated to reflect the addition to the mural on June 6, 2020.

“Black Lives Matter” is seen painted on 16th Street in Washington D.C. (Credit: @MurielBowser/Twitter)

On Friday morning, June 5, 2020, the words “Black Lives Matter” were painted on 16th Street N.W., in Washington, D.C. The giant sans-serif capital letters reach from curb to curb, stretched over three blocks from H Street to K. The mural is visually arresting and compelling. To see a political slogan where we are accustomed to seeing only impersonal directions like “Left Turn Only” is jarring and even disorienting. It looks like a…


[Photograph of elephant sitting on the couch/Randy Grasser]

Sophisticated scientists and faculty members at universities all over the United States have written long, careful take-downs of their institutions’ plans to “re-open” in the fall for face-to-face instruction. Political scientist Jeffrey C. Isaac of Indiana University is one of the best of them, and I commend his work to you. But if you or your loved ones work or study at a school announcing they will resume on-campus instruction this fall, you can quickly evaluate any plan by asking which of these two obvious truths it ignores.

  1. Testing only those with symptoms is inadequate, and testing those without them…


Drawing of skeleton chef and gory butcher scene

“If you come back in, you will not die of food poisoning. At least, not while you’re on the premises. Probably.”

“We’re open! Please come back! Everything’s fine…but please come back. Really. We really really want to keep our restaurant open.

“If you come back in, most of your favorite items won’t be on the menu. Instead of our famous homemade lasagna, we’ll nuke a Lean Cuisine for you. But you never really came here for the food, right? It was all those special ‘extras’ that we’ve spent years telling you are what really set our restaurant apart. They’re gone now. But don’t worry. While the quality of our restaurant may go down, our prices never will.

“We can’t promise your…


Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Zoom Yoga

[photo of author]

It was the second week of quarantine, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Not really, of course — but I was going pretty crazy. I’m one of those people with what they call a “daily yoga practice.” Or, if not quite daily, at least several times a week. And I hadn’t been to the yoga studio since mid-March.

I’ve been doing yoga at least a few times a week for almost ten years. I know the Sanskrit names of all kinds of poses. But I had no home practice at all. …


Due process matters. And it’s another thing university administrators are bad at.

Campus sexual assault is a scourge on higher education. It has blighted the lives and educational prospects of far too many young women, and colleges have not done nearly enough to address it. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, is the worst thing to happen to American education since segregation. And so it gives me no pleasure at all to say that some of the recent changes to Title IX enforcement are probably good ones.

Not all of them, to be sure. Requiring that the conduct be both


Forget “red plague” and “blue plague” or liberty vs. public health.

For decades, America has drawn down its strategic national stockpile of something even more important than ventilators and PPE, and now we’re fresh out: empathy.

Empathy is not pity or charity. It is not looking out and down from a position of safety and comfort at those who are suffering, and responding generously. Generosity is good. But empathy is something else. Empathy is actually entering into the experience of those who are suffering and suffering with them. Empathy in action means being willing to make sacrifices to protect others…

Diane Klein

law professor, amateur acrobat, gadfly, baker @Lawprofdiane

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