John Edwards and Scandal

There are few things more sociologically interesting than a big scandal. I’m not talking about the scandals themselves; the behavior in question is never actually shocking. In fact, considering the Britney craze, and now John Edwards, they’re another thing entirely.

This is a conflict between Edwards and his wife, amplified by all the other folks who disapprove of his behavior. So he does something you don’t like. Politicians constantly do stuff I don’t like. In this case, at least it wasn’t any of my tax dollars misspent.

Yes, there's a chapter on presidents.
Yes, there’s a chapter on presidents.

Ari Adut studies scandals. He’s a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin.

On Scandal cracks these trends open wider than my musings can.

For a really good cross-section of popular attitudes, though, check out the comments section of Maureen Dowd’s column about John Edwards. Hundreds chime in, and opinions are all over the map.

To sum up many of them, here’s a representative example:


Absolutely agree with everything you wrote. There is a pathetic insincerity to Edward’s “preening apology” that makes me want to gag. And what does it really matter that he did it when his wife’s cancer was in remission? As if that is somehow supposed to makes it (and the public) more accepting. Get real!!


Another important dimension is reflected in Elizabeth Edwards’ own blog post about the whole ordeal. Not surprisingly, she just wants everyone to shut up and leave her alone.


Andreas Daum on All Things Considered

Last week, Time turned to Andreas Daum to discuss Obama’s possible choice of the Brandenburg Gate as a speech location during his current tour abroad.

All Things Considered brought Daum on the air last night to discuss some of these same issues. There’s a lot involved here! Do Kennedy, Reagan and Obama face some of the same challenges? What differences are immediately apparent?

For the love of God, was John F. Kennedy a jelly doughnut?!

The conspiracy theories abound.

Click here to hear the show archive >>

The same page features a clip that answers the “Ich bin ein Berliner” jelly doughnut question too, by the way. I sincerely hope that it puts some of us at ease.

Darfur Justice: 5 Years Later

Still Overdue, Still Undone

John Hagan & Wenona Rymond-Richmond

In our book, Darfur and the Crime of Genocide, we analyze evidence that goes well beyond the new charges filed against Sudanese President Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The evidence is largely developed from an important but neglected U.S. State Department interview based survey of more than a thousand Darfur refugees four years ago in Chad.

The Prosecutor reports from his investigator’s accounting that 35,000 were killed outright in Darfur, while overall 100,000 died. Five years after the onset of the mass killing and rape, the Prosecutor’s numbers are impossibly small. We present detailed and systematic evidence of no fewer than 200,000 and as many as 400,000 dead. At its peak, the death toll reached or surpassed 12,000 per month. The Prosecutor does not attempt to enumerate the rapes. We find that nearly a third of the refugees reported that rapes and sexual assaults occurred in their villages during the attacks. The Prosecutor identifies the dead as mostly from three targeted ethnic groups – the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa – which Al Bashir himself called “Zurgas.” Although the Prosecutor does not clearly explain this, the latter is a derogatory slur of pan-ethnic racial inferiority and animosity aimed at non-Arab groups generally in Sudan. The Prosecutor gives insufficient weight to the explicit racial targeting of the killing and rapes in the attacks on these groups’ villages.

Attackers shouted racial epithets to incite the frenzied ferocity of the attacks.

Continue reading

The State of SOL Reform

We’ve moved!

Click here for this article at our new site:

Yeah, I did it.

The marriage was lovely; the reception fun. I think my mom broke a small plate by knocking it off a table during a conga line. The folks in Scotland were most friendly, and the haggis was absolutely delicious. I also discovered a new vice, cranachan. Every time I get my hands on some heavy cream, you’ll know I’ll be whipping it with whisky and topping it with crispy oats.

But I’m back, and Cambridge is moving on with some really cool projects. Look for some great stuff as I get in touch with our authors, old and new.

Thanks to Laura for keeping things smoothly updated!

Reminder: Listen to Air America at 5!

Marci Hamilton will discuss the FDLS with Roseanne Barr from 5-6 pm on Air America Radio.

You can Listen Here!

How to Prosectute a Religious Sect

Marci Hamilton lends her legal analysis of what is turning out to be a very complicated situation in Texas.

The Christian Science Monitor, gets into the nitty-gritty of the court battle. In a sidebar audio commentary, reporter Faye Bowers discusses certain similarities between the lives of young women within a polygamous religious sect in Texas and those of women in she wrote about while reporting in Saudi Arabia.

The Salt Lake Tribune discusses the raids, their legality, and historical precedents.

On The Hill’s Congress Blog, Marci throws her support behind officials seeking to prosecute groups such as the FDLS.