Disability and the Death Penalty

I am just finishing edits on my sixth piece on the death penalty in the last two years for Pacific Standard. Here’s what I’ve written:

So what does all this mean about the state of the Death Penalty in the US in 2018? Check back with me at Pacific Standard next week.

Debunking D’Souza with Kevin Kruse

I interviewed Princeton Historian Kevin Kruse about the role of the historian in this era of viral lies.

D: D’Souza clearly isn’t interested in facts, so what kind of effect do you think you can have?

K: I’m under no illusion that I’m going to get him off Twitter. He’s got a very profitable con—I assume it’s a con. I do it for people on the sidelines, [for] people who aren’t already his fans but are confronted with people pushing his work directly or his arguments indirectly. It’s a way to serve as counterbalance. 

D: Are you worried that you’re just giving him more oxygen?

K: Both D’Souza and Trump have a much bigger audience than I have. The millions of people who follow them are already going to see [their tweets]. It’s important to not just let them go unchallenged. D’Souza’s schtick was to say that no historians ever objected to what [he says]. So our lack of fact-checking was taken as at least our tacit approval. If we don’t speak up and challenge these untruths, then they have the floor.
Historians have the same kind of duty that scientists have to climate change deniers, that doctors have to anti-vaccine folks.

Ramps Are Beautiful; Ableism is Not

Horrible people in Chicago attempt to use zoning rules to stop parents trying to build a ramp for their disabled child. Their reason – ramps are too ugly.

Steve Weiss, president of the Old Town Triangle Association, wrote a letter to Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), detailing his objections to the project.

“I understand that the people who purchased the house have a child that requires special needs,” he wrote. “What I don’t understand is why they chose to buy a house in a Landmark Zone when you have these needs. I don’t mean to be heartless or uncaring but this is not the neighborhood for that. Here you conform to the rules, not the other way around.”

The garage would ruin one of the most beautiful, and historic, lines of Victorian homes in Chicago, and the family knew they would be subject to the landmark district’s rules, he wrote.

“Now I’m feeling bad like they are shaming us because we are not willing to allow them this garage which they need for their child,” Weiss wrote. “They should have put their child’s needs first and moved to a neighborhood more conducive to her needs.”

Disabled people, according to Weiss, aren’t allowed in historic districts.  Weiss, the worst person in Chicago (on this day) had more to say. From the article:

Weiss went on to write if the zoning board approved the plans for the renovation, he would soon follow with construction plans of his own. It’s a slippery slope when you start allowing homeowners to make certain renovations within historic districts, he argued.

“Do not approve this request to have a garage built,” he wrote. “If you do, I will have my lawyers contact you immediately about building my garage and my friends across the street will do the same. Then we’re like Wells Street and no longer a historic district. It’s game over for preservation!!!”

Well that’s a charmer.

Biscuits!

I’m still figuring out the relationship between my blog and posts on my patreon site. My wife and I are so grateful for all the love and financial help in this difficult moment, so she wrote up her biscuit recipe. It’s amazing (she’s a pro). Happy eating. Post open to all (but if you had 2$ a month to spare to support my writing and her recipe development, we’d be grateful).

HQ2 Shows Whats Possible

Whenever I argue about universal healthcare, building a robust safety net, fully empowering people with disabilities to live lives based on maximum autonomy, or otherwise articulate a vision in which government alleviates suffering, I get one answer – oh yeah! How are we gonna pay for it!

But the obscene spectacle of governments competing for Amazon’s second headquarters shows what’s possible when leaders feel the payoff is worth it and the political price for not competing would be too high.

Now just imagine those resources were expended on making life better for people who need help, rather than building infrastructure to enforce income inequality.

A man can dream.