TPM Cafe: Opinion

Editor's note: Today we're debuting a new feature at TPM, the Exchange. These are email exchanges, usually three rounds of back and forth via email. These are not meant to be debates, though sometimes, as in this first case they will feature two people contending over very different perspectives. Often they will simply be trading of ideas. The goal is to air an issue, hopefully with two people who have given the matter some real thought or in other cases bring specific technical expertise. Though the participants know the emails with be published (edited only to prune out missing words or particularly strained grammar) we hope that these will have an unstructured, more casual air, which preserves pointed thinking while allowing writers the space to think out aloud and explore ideas more than they might in more formal settings. We hope you enjoy it and we welcome your feedback.



JOSH MARSHALL: We’ve been on same sides, then opposite sides and then more recently again on the same side of various issues. I suspect we’re going to be on opposite sides of the Iranian nuclear diplomacy issue. But I’m eager to dig into the details and see if maybe there are some areas in which we agree. So let me start by saying where I stand and then as well as I’m able explain why I stand where I do.

I support the President’s nuclear deal. And as a general matter I support reaching a diplomatic settlement if possible. Let me list my basic reasons in no particular order.

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Americans of a certain age remember the experience of blood running cold when their favorite network television shows gave way to these words: We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin. What would it be this time, we wondered? War or rumors of war? An assassination? Or another urban riot?

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In a few weeks a surgeon is going to slice so deep into my right arm that the muscle, bone and tendon will be exposed. Then that doctor will take a tendon from a dead body and place it between my radius and ulna bones, anchor it into the bones with what look like large plastic staples, and sew up the gash.

That sounds incredibly gruesome, but it’s also essential for my health.

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I have felt so uncomfortable for the past few months anytime Bruce Jenner is mentioned. Before Friday’s two-hour interview on ABC’s 20/20 with Diane Sawyer, all the constant coverage of Bruce Jenner felt voyeuristic—like people were outing him before he had a chance to tell his story. It’s not our business to out people despite what the last few months may have you believe.

Luckily, this has changed. Not for my comfort, but for the comfort of Bruce Jenner and for the lightness and freedom he now seems to have.

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Last year, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz’s senior thesis became a national sensation. Sulkowicz, an art student, decided to do a performance art piece called “Carry that Weight,” in which she dragged her mattress around campus every day. The piece was meant to symbolize the emotional burden Sulkowicz experienced after she was allegedly raped by a fellow student and Columbia failed to expel him, even though two other female students also accused him of abusive behavior.

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Two years ago today, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed. The accident is considered the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history with 2,500 injured and a death toll clocking in at just over 1,100. The building was originally designed for shops and offices, not industrial factories. Warnings to avoid using the building after cracks appeared the day before had been ignored and when garment workers were ordered to return the following day the building collapsed during the morning rush hour.

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Last month, Nellie Andreeva wrote a piece for Deadline on race in contemporary television that set the Internet ablaze. In the article, Andreeva ponders whether the current array of multiracial castings in popular shows (How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, Jane the Virgin, The Mindy Project) or, in some cases, shows that deal specifically with the experiences of people from a particular community of color (Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Empire) have gone “too far.” Andreeva asks her audience to consider, though she does not quite state it outright, the cost to white people of seeing people of color on television.

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Female comedians like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have spent the past few years firmly putting to bed the idea that women, and feminists in particular, can’t be funny. Now Amy Schumer’s Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer is back and immediately reminded us that this is true—even when it comes to a touchy subject like rape.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com
Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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