Posts tagged ‘Controversy’

October 9, 2012

Conversion Therapy

ex-gay by mikhaela reid

Conversion therapy‘ (also known as ‘Reparative therapy’) is a pseudo-scientific therapy that aims to change sexual orientation. Mainstream American medical and scientific organizations have expressed concern over conversion therapy and consider it potentially harmful. The advancement of conversion therapy may cause social harm by disseminating inaccurate views about sexual orientation. As a result, conversion therapy on minors is illegal in California.

The American Psychiatric Association has condemned psychiatric ‘treatment’ which is ‘based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.’ It states that, ‘Ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation.’ And that political and moral debates over the integration of gays and lesbians into the mainstream of American society have obscured scientific data about changing sexual orientation ‘by calling into question the motives and even the character of individuals on both sides of the issue.’

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September 29, 2012


Paul is dead

Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward on to a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through ‘phonetic reversal’ may be unintentional. Backmasking was popularized by The Beatles who used backward instrumentation on their 1966 album ‘Revolver.’ Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic and satiric effect, on both analogue and digital recordings.

The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for ‘clean’ releases of rap songs. Backmasking has been a controversial topic in the United States since the 1980s, when allegations from Christian groups of its use for Satanic purposes were made against prominent rock musicians, leading to record-burning protests and proposed anti-backmasking legislation by state and federal governments.

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September 14, 2012

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Chris Lehane

Vast right-wing conspiracy‘ was a theory advanced by then First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1998 in defense of her husband, President Bill Clinton, and his administration during the Lewinsky scandal, characterizing the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Clinton’s political enemies. While popularized by Mrs. Clinton in her 1998 interview, the phrase did not originate with her.

In 1991 the ‘Detroit News’ wrote: ‘Thatcher-era Britain produced its own crop of paranoid left-liberal films. … All posited a vast right-wing conspiracy propping up a reactionary government ruthlessly crushing all efforts at opposition under the guise of parliamentary democracy.’ An AP story in 1995 also used the phrase, relating an official’s guess that the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of ‘maybe five malcontents’ and not ‘some kind of vast right-wing conspiracy.’

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February 8, 2012

Manifold Destiny

Grigori Perelman by Antonio Guzman

Manifold Destiny‘ is a 2006 article in ‘The New Yorker’ written by Sylvia Nasar (known for her biography of John Forbes Nash, ‘A Beautiful Mind’) and David Gruber. It gives a detailed account (including interviews with many mathematicians) of some of the circumstances surrounding the proof of the Poincaré conjecture, one of the most important accomplishments of 20th and 21st century mathematics, and traces the attempts by three teams of mathematicians to verify the proof given by Grigori Perelman.

Subtitled ‘A legendary problem and the battle over who solved it,’ the article concentrates on the human drama of the story, especially the discussion on who contributed how much to the proof of the Poincaré conjecture. Interwoven with the article is an interview with the reclusive mathematician Grigori Perelman, whom the authors tracked down to the St. Petersburg apartment he shares with his mother. The article describes Perelman’s disillusionment and withdrawal from the mathematical community and paints an unflattering portrait of the 1982 Fields Medalist, Shing-Tung Yau.

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November 16, 2011

Slum Tourism

slum tourism by wesley allsbrook

Slum tourism is a type of tourism that involves visiting impoverished areas, which has become increasingly prominent in several developing countries like India, Brazil, Kenya, and Indonesia. The Oxford English Dictionary found the first use of the word ‘slumming’ in 1884. In London, people visited neighborhoods such as Whitechapel or Shoreditch to see how the poor lived. In 1884 the concept moved to New York City to the Bowery and the Five Points area of the Lower East Side were visited to see ‘how the other half lives.’ In the 1980s in South Africa ‘township tours’ were organized to educate local governments on how the black population lived. It then attracted international tourists that wanted to support and learn more about apartheid. Prior to the release of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in 2008, Mumbai was a slum tourist destination.

Critics say slum tourism, like poorism, is likened to a kind of voyeurism, exploiting people less fortunate, snapping pictures and leaving nothing in return. Some tours do use portions of the profits to help out however. They have also courted controversy because of disputes about their safety, and fears that they misrepresent local culture.

June 28, 2011

Contempt of Cop

Henry Louis Gates by Tom Davidson

Contempt of cop is law enforcement jargon in the United States for behavior by citizens towards law enforcement officers that the officers perceive as disrespectful or insufficiently deferential. The phrase is associated with arbitrary arrest and detention and is often discussed in connection to police misconduct such as use of excessive force or even police brutality as a reaction to disrespectful behavior rather than for any legitimate law enforcement purpose.

A similar idiom is ‘disturbing the police,’ a play on ‘disturbing the peace.’ It has also been referred to as ‘flunking the attitude test.’ In some areas it is called P.O.P. or ‘Pissing Off the Police.’

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March 29, 2011

Freedom Fries

freedom fries by Anthony Freda

Freedom fries is a political euphemism for French fries used in the US as a result of anti-French sentiment during the controversy over the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. France expressed strong opposition in the UN, leading to boycotts of French goods and the removal of the country’s name from products. 

Representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina) declared that all references to French fries and French toast on the menus of the restaurants and snack bars run by the House of Representatives would be removed. House cafeterias were ordered to rename French fries ‘freedom fries.’ This action was carried out without a congressional vote, under the authority of Ney’s position as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations for the chamber. 

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March 10, 2011


jyllands posten

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after 12 editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper ‘Jyllands-Posten’ in 2005. The newspaper announced that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. Danish Muslim organizations responded by holding public protests. The cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries, expanding the controversy.

Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic or racist, and argued that they are blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, are intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or are a manifestation of ignorance about the history of Western imperialism. Supporters have said that the cartoons illustrated an important issue in a period of Islamic terrorism and that their publication is a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech, explicitly tied to the issue of self-censorship.

November 4, 2010

Duke Sex Thesis

fuck list

The 2010 Duke University sex thesis (also known as the ‘Duke Fuck List’) controversy arose from a private document written by senior, Karen Owen, in the format of a thesis about her sexual experiences during her time attending the university. Owen wrote and distributed the document to three friends shortly after graduating from the university, in May 2010. By mid-September it was widely available on the internet. In the satirical thesis, titled ‘An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics,’ Owen ranked her partners based on her criteria for performance.

The bulk of the controversy surrounded whether she invaded her partners’ rights to privacy, and whether the subjects of Owen’s paper have a right to sue, as in the case of Jessica Cutler when Cutler published details of her sex life on a blog. It also raised questions as to whether double standards exist if the reaction would have been the same had the document been written by a male. The paper attracted additional attention because some of the men which Owen ranked were from the lacrosse team, and there was an unrelated sex controversy surrounding the team a few years prior.