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Friday, December 28, 2012

Mark Kemp's Weekly Fast 5

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Since the holidays got in the way of my posting last Friday, today's Fast 5 includes stories and topics that have caught my attention in the past two weeks. And what a couple of weeks it's been! Since my previous survey, the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder has led the national news, along with the fiscal cliff, the non-apocalypse and the holidays. (On a personal note, my family suffered a loss on the eve of Christmas Eve - a cousin whose death at 48 came far too soon.) In short: a whiplash of emotions.

A moment of silence observed in the White House on December 21, 2012
  • Pete Souza
  • A moment of silence observed in the White House on December 21, 2012
In the days since the horrific Dec. 14 school shooting in Connecticut, we've had a little time to process the tragedy. So much has been written and said - demands for gun control from the left, calls for armed guards at schools from the right. Much of it from both sides has been shrill, emotional and ultimately... understandable. When children are shot and killed by a madman with a gun, it quite naturally works our emotions. But if we're to learn from this tragedy and move forward, a little dispassionate contemplation of violence in our society is in order.

Among the best pieces I've read in this regard, one came from the left, another from the right, another from a libertarian's perspective (see next week's cover story in Creative Loafing), and yet another from the perspective of someone trying to understand the shooter. That was the one that moved me the most. It wasn't about the politics of guns; it was about the spirituality of compassion and understanding.

Personally, I'm for reasonable gun control. But if gun-control legislation already in place is not keeping random mass shootings from happening, we can't look to gun control alone to solve this problem. We have to look at how we have created conditions that are conducive to mass killings. Are we in the media partly to blame? Is the constant stream of blame-gaming on social media a factor? Is the problem a lack of god in classrooms or too much god in classrooms? I don't have any answers, but in all the noise I've heard and read, one piece keeps resonating for me, and it's my No. 1 link in today's Fast Five.

1) Tikkun Daily's Miki Kashtan sees Adam Lanza in all of us.
From the story:

The very first thing I wish for is honesty about the role of violence in our lives. At every turn we learn, again and again, that violence is an acceptable solution to conflicts and issues. The media, video games, our foreign policy, and our criminal justice system all demonstrate the same logic. Whatever the personal traits of a single individual, and whatever else we want to say about access to guns, Adam Lanza didn't invent the option of a violent response. Blaming specific individuals and calling them monsters when so much violence is a daily presence will not create any real shift. If we are serious about reducing or eliminating violence, I believe it would take a fundamental and deeper examination of the very premises and foundations of how we live our lives, from the metaphors we use to the role models we look up to.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mark Kemp's Weekly Fast 5

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Beginning today, I'll be checking in each Friday with the five stories - local and national, from the arts to hard news - that got my blood boiling in some distinctive way, shape or form. Some of these stories will come straight from the pages of Creative Loafing (both print and website); others will be stories you've heard about from other news outlets. They won't necessarily be the most important or earth-shattering stories of the week - they'll be stories that in some way captured my attention and yours, and ones I want to re-share with you.

So let's get started (in chronological order):

Lincoln
  • Lincoln
1) Charlotte Talks about Holiday Films (Monday)
As they do every year around this time, the folks at WFAE's Charlotte Talks brought CL's illustrious film critic Matt Brunson on for a chat with other area critics - Sean O'Connell at AMCfilmcritic.com and Ann Marie Oliva of Arts a la Mode - about the season's new movies. They talked about the new Bond film, the Twilight movie, the upcoming Hobbit and Les Miserables. And Charlotte Talks host Mike Collins gave Matt and O'Connell a ribbing about their mixed (or in O'Connell's case, downright negative) reviews of Lincoln. It was an enlightening hour. Take a listen here.
But no matter what you thought of Lincoln (the movie), some of the best writing on Lincoln (both the man and the movie) that I've seen recently came from The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, who continues to be one of the most intelligent and perceptive writers and (in this case) roundtable hosts out there. Coates' month-long roundtable discussion of Lincoln included assessments from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, historian Kate Masur and others. A must-read!

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