—Dustin Christensen focuses on Latin American politics and sports.
“Opponents Barred From Speaking as Cobb County Approves Braves Stadium,” by Barry Petchesky. Deadspin, May 28, 2014.
With the World Cup just weeks away, protests have been erupting across Brazil as people reject the spending of public money for the financial profit of the few. While the World Cup might dominate headlines as the most glaring example of wasteful spending in the sporting world, this is an increasingly common trend across the world. Lavish, luxury-box-filled stadiums are approved and built when owners insist on a team’s “important role” in “the community”—the same community that is denied a democratic vote in the process, robbed of tax dollars used to fund the construction and is eventually priced out of attending games altogether. In my home state of Georgia, Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves have jumped aboard this elitist bandwagon with unbridled enthusiasm. On Tuesday, a public meeting was held on the building of a new stadium for the Braves in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County. Pro-stadium business interests waited in line for several hours in the middle of the day, snatching up all twelve of the meeting’s speaking slots while normal people worked. Speaking to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rich Pellegrino of the group Citizens for Governmental Transparency decried the situation. “We’re working people,” Pellegrino said. “We’re not on corporate welfare. It’s a slap in the face.” Unsurprisingly, all twelve speakers spoke in favor of the stadium, and the county commissioners unanimously voted to devote almost $400 million in taxpayer money from a county that is laying off teachers and slashing spending on public services.
—Laura Cremer focuses on labor, gender and the historicization of culture and politics.
“Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism,” by Laurie Penny. New Statesman, May 25, 2014.
Innumerable responses to the Isla Vista killings have made their appearances in the last few days, but Laurie Penny has delivered, I think, the most important, the most eloquent and the most biting. She refuses to allow statements like “There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female” and “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with” to be read as the random products of mental illness rather than as an integral part of a culture-wide ideology of violent misogyny. Female writers and public figures receive messages of hatred and threats of gruesome violence from strangers every day, she reminds us, and the fact that most of these are not acted upon shouldn’t mean we can mentally separate them from the language and actions of Elliot Rodger. I think the most important demand this essay makes is that violent misogyny and misogynist violence be denaturalized: it is not “normal” or inevitable that women are treated this way merely for existing, and it should be recognized as part of backlash against not (just) individual women who deny people like Elliot Rodger what they think they deserve, but against women in general who “as a class, as a sex” are fighting gendered oppression.