Here’s what we’re reading today:
This piece by Daniel de Vise in the Post about a program that brings Plato and Buddha to Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland.
Thirty-two inmates, the majority serving life sentences, read Plato, Kierkegaard, Frederick Douglass and Buddha over the course of 15 classes, culminating in term papers, most of them written longhand.
The Partners in Philosophy course was organized not by the college, nor the prison, but by a student: James Schelberg, 26, a lanky senior from Towson.
Schelberg came to the college in 2007 after serving seven months in Iraq as a heavy machine-gunner in the Marine Corps Reserve. He learned philosophy from his sergeant, who liked to engage the crew in metaphysical discussion on the comm system during long, boring missions.
He got the idea of teaching philosophy to prisoners from an article by John Waters, the Baltimore filmmaker, about teaching film classes to inmates.
“My sense was that everybody, whether they’re a convicted criminal or not, everybody has the potential for philosophical thought,” Schelberg said.
Read the entire story here.
The first of two parts of a story in the Chicago Reader about intolerance that changed two lives on Sept. 1, 1971.
Sam Navarro and Duffie Clark met under odd circumstances. This was in the summer of 1971, in the neighborhood in which both men lived—a pocket of Back of the Yards between 51st and 53rd Streets, Halsted and Morgan. Small apartment buildings here were mixed with single-family bungalows. The lawns were trim, the streets clean and safe. Many of the breadwinners cashed city paychecks, and on Election Day, they and their wives flipped the levers the precinct captain told them to flip. Catholics—Irish, Polish, German—predominated. Until Clark’s family moved in that January, only whites lived there.
One evening that summer, Clark, then 19, walked his dog from his home at 5213 S. Green to a weedy vacant lot a half block west at 52nd and Peoria. A group of white kids was gathered in an alley next to the lot, and Clark soon was dodging rocks and bottles and hearing the usual taunts: “Get outta here, nigger!” “You don’t belong here!” His mother had instructed him to turn the other cheek, but that ran against his nature. He flung a few rocks back. His dog Lacy, a German shepherd, was snarling and straining at the leash, and Clark considered letting him loose. “But Lacy was vicious, and he ain’t coming back once he get in the mix,” Clark says today. “I was afraid he would have just went and bit some people who didn’t have nothing to do with nothing.”
Continue reading the story here.
And this offering from The Root about the DSK case. Sherrilyn A Ifill weighs in the case that made headlines around the globe.
Who they were in their home countries (a doctor, in the case of the film’s Nigerian cab driver), what they suffered, the daily compromises they must make in order to survive in an underground economy that offers no protections and meager wages, are largely irrelevant to those of us living in mainstream society. They cut our lawns and work as busboys in the finest restaurants, and we see them, but we don’t see them.
And perhaps this is what made the story of Nafissatou Diallo -- the Guinean-immigrant hotel housekeeper who alleged that she was the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the hands of one of the most powerful men in Europe -- so compelling. For a brief period, while charges against her attacker were pending, we were forced to look at the life of a woman whom so many New Yorkers encounter every day but never really see. Diallo’s account -- that she was attacked by a naked and determined male guest in a $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel Hotel -- was so credible that police seized her alleged assailant, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as he tried to leave on a flight to Paris, arrested him and held him at Rikers Island.
Read the full story here.