Issue 35, Final Fringe

Tagged: news

Unspeakable, Unthinkable Fiction


Apparently, some fiction does not enjoy first amendment protection.

Consider the case of Dwight Whorley. This Virginia man authored an icky pornographic story that included pedophilia, then emailed his fantasy to likeminded internet friends, Wired reports. Whorley was convicted for possessing obscene Japanese manga and for possession of a filthy piece of print — his pedophiliac fantasy.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to hear his case, setting the stage for a Supreme Court Appeal.

On the one hand, the production of written kiddie porn probably does hurt children by helping to create an atmosphere that suggests that it’s ok, or by helping condition a person’s orgasm to an illegal act that threatens the safety children. On the other hand, Whorley’s being prosecuted for writing down a private fantasy and sharing it with others, an act that any writer will be familiar with.

The whole situation makes me uncomfortable. I generally think of writing as a safe space to experiment with concepts, situations, and characters that might make me uncomfortable in real life. This case pushes that conception to its limit.

I find Whorley’s fantasies reprehensible, but the idea that the law could punish someone for expressing their feelings, no matter how deviant... more »

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Shout Out to Zahra Rahnavard


A big Fringe shout out to bad-a** mother-feminist Zahra Rahnavard, wife to Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main competition in Friday’s Iranian election.

After Ahmadinejad questioned Dr. Rahnavard’s credentials during a televised debate with her husband, the spunky academe called a 90-minute press conference where she proceeded to excoriate Ahmadinejad for lying, humiliating women, and debasing the revolution.

“Those who made up this case against me wanted to say it is a crime for women to study, to get two graduate degrees, to become an intellectual or an artist,” she said.

In addition, she threatened to sue Ahmadinejad for slandering her academic qualifications if he did not publicly apologize to her within 24 hours.

Dr. Rahnavard put on her feminist hat to woo young and female voters promising that, if elected, her husband will do away with the morality police, end discrimination, ensure that women are treated like humans, not second class citizens, and appoint women to cabinet posts.

For a woman in Iran (or anyone in Iran), this is ballsy busty styff, but because she’s a woman, Rahnavard’s been able to indict Ahmadinejad more strongly than any of his male competitors.

You can read more about her at the London Times, the AP, The New... more »

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What about today?


When I checked my email this morning I received the most annoying forward from my aunt. It was entitled “Black and White” and detailed all the nostalgic wonders of the 1950s. It was filled with ridiculous photos and some equally ridiculous statements like, “My mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning” or “we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.” There were also, bizarrely, four references to spanking children.

Nostalgia bothers me as a rule. Not only is it unwarranted and silly because we can never go back to that time, it discredits how far our society has come in the past 60 years. Even though we are in the midst of a huge financial crisis, today’s news is a perfect example of why we should be celebrating the future not the past. Colin Powell took the bold and unexpected step of endorsing Barack Obama for president. We’ve been waiting for years for Powell to break publicly from the Bush-era mistakes, and today he... more »

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Gandhi, Squatters, and Pickles


Admittedly, I’ve neglected this space a bit in the last few months, but I assure you it’s for the best reasons: I’ve been out covering subcultures for my New Media class, and since subcultures are pretty Fringe, I’ll give you one each day for the next few days.

First there was the complex story of Lower East Side Squatters. Six years ago the Urban Homestead Assistance board brokered a deal between the city and and squatters. UHAB bought eleven buildings that had squatters living in them for $1 each under the condition that UHAB would renovate the properties and make them into low-income coops.

The city gave UHAB two years to complete the renovations. Now, six years later, some of the buildings still lack heat and hot water, and only two of the original eleven are even close to becoming coops. On top of that, UHAB took out $5.5 million in mortgages on the buildings to make the repairs, and now the money is dwindling, some buildings are in disrepair, and residents fear that the bank will come knocking.

This piece was difficult to write because squatters are fairly suspicious of outsiders and of the media in particular. My reporting partner, Kenan Davis,... more »

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Actions Speak Louder...


This week we’ve been saved from the droning primary campaign by the Governor Spitzer scandal. Yes, we’ve lapped up the unfolding smutty details like a bunch of hungry, um, wolves. From water cooler chitchats to interviews on NPR, Americans love it when celebrity falls from grace, especially when it involves adultery.

However, while the scandal may revolve around Elliot Spitzer, it seems that we can’t help but turn our morbid curiosity towards his wife, Silda Spitzer. She’s already run the gamut of public scrutiny, receiving our pity—not another politician’s wife!—our unsolicited advice—She should really get herself tested for STDs—and worst of all, our sexual criticism—What wasn’t she providing in the bedroom? I hear they’re sleeping in separate rooms.

Silda Spitzer stands like a ghostly shadow behind her husband during his press appearances. Some say her silent presence is a way to deflect future scrutiny by getting the worst gossipy nags out of the way early. I’m not sure how effective this technique is. It seems like just about the worst thing to be required to do. But I do hope, for the sake of Mrs. Spitzer’s privacy, her silence works.

Or do I? Should she be stepping up and speaking out against... more »

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A Tale of Two New Yorks


It is a truly Dickensian tale.

This fall, I spent the semester negotiating both cities. Most mornings, I’d wake up on the well-to-do Upper West Side, grab a coffee on the corner, walk past the Gap and Banana Republic to the train.

A half hour later I’d emerge in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, where 45 percent of residents live below the poverty line (which is $13,167 per year for a family of 2), and 97 percent or residents are black or hispanic, according to the New York City Department of City Planning, roll up my sleeves, and start reporting for my classes.

I’m a student at the Columbia School of Journalism, where students are assigned a neighborhood in New York City that they report on all semester.

I wrote stories on hunger, crime, welfare, community health, the schools, and many other subjects, and what I found shocked me, not because I hadn’t read about communities like Mott Haven, but because seeing and reading are two different things.

A few telling facts that I ferreted out:

  • The principal of IS-162, Maryann Manzolillo, budgets money for graph paper, because there’s no where to buy it in the community. She also opens the school library to... more »
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Breaking News: Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement


WASHINGTON—After decades spent battling gender discrimination and inequality in the workplace, the feminist movement underwent a high-level shake-up last month, when 53-year-old management consultant Peter “Buck” McGowan took over as new chief of the worldwide initiative for women’s rights. . . .

“All the feminist movement needed to do was bring on someone who had the balls to do something about this glass ceiling business,” said McGowan, who quickly closed the 23.5 percent gender wage gap by “making a few calls to the big boys upstairs.”

…more at, you guessed it, The Onion. Via WomPo, the women’s poetry listserv, which is well worth checking out itself.

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Feminism Obsolete, Says Journalist


In his Herald Blog today, Teddy Jamieson announced that feminism is dead:

“How often, after all, do you hear the word feminism these days outside the Guardian women’s page? We have, it seems, moved on. Indeed, according to a press release for cultural commentator Laura Kipnis’s new book, The Female Thing, these days we are living in a “post-post-feminist world”.”

I hate that journalists are so fond of declaring this.

Why haven’t they been reading Bitch, Bust, Fringe, Feministing, Shakespeare’s Sister, Ms, Thus Spake Zuska, She’s Such a Geek, BlogHer, On Balance, the Guerilla Girls


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