Mad Man in Chief Donald Trump’s got nothing on Worcester’s Sicko City Councilor Michael Gaffney. Woo has never seen a politician quite like him – the dirtiest fighter we’re likely to step over (eeek!!!) in a generation, a guy so hungry to win the Woo mayoral seat he’ll use his slippery smarts to spread malicious lies about his political opponents, incite racist reactions … throw our fair city under the bus, splattering bodies left and right – especially if they belong to our most vulnerable communities. Makes no difference to the Gaffer! As long as he wins!
Just when we were thinking: Gaffney’s sanctuary city bull shit resolution – meant to devastate Mayor Joe Petty and catapult him – the Gaffer – into the mayor’s seat in November, forget about sowing crazy, divisive seeds in our community – blew up in his face sending him to ICELAND to vacation and realize the error of his ways … He’s back!!! WITH EVEN CRAZIER SHIT!!! It’s as if the crystal Iceland beauty did nothing for his soul – he may as well have vacationed in a vat of shit. I’ll take it a step higher (or lower): Gaffney’s even more vindictive and mendacious AFTER vacation! Forget about “putting things in perspective,” “counting your blessings,” or just having plain ol’ fun while on vacation. Gaffney in Iceland = a vindictive asshole hatching more nefarious political schemes. Too bad if the public is misled!
So…right outa the box, he is on his FaceBook Page linking Mayor Joe Petty with the anti-fascist protest yesterday in downtown Worcester. The protest got a bit hairy, like protests often become when America starts flexing its democracy muscles … These days that’s happening thanks to the (Russian-induced?!) election of Donald Trump. It’s like OUR COUNTRY IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, and every day there are protests in cities and towns great and small – including Worcester – that reflect an America in crisis. In Worcester, at yesterday’s protest, a reporter was allegedly assaulted by a protester. A handful of protesters were arrested.
STOP THE PRESSES! says GAFFNEY in two of his posts! I SEE THUGS RUINING WOO AND AMERICA! I SEE VIOLENCE ROCKING WORCESTER! A vulnerable GIRL reporter was slugged!!! AND IT’S ALL MAYOR JOE PETTY’S FAULT! HE STARTED ALL THIS! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!!!
Is there a well padded booby hatch we can throw Gaffney into?
The slick, deceptive Gaffney put a photo of Petty at a Washington DC rally in his FB page post along with a few of yesterday’s Worcester protest photos – to make it look like Petty was at yesterday’s protest. And Gaffney worded his post – and his previous one about the protest – in such a way that it looks as if Petty was not only at yesterday’s protest but incited the violence at the march. Caused the violence!
Petty wasn’t at the protest. Most likely he was enjoying the three-day weekend like the rest of us.
Presidents Day Weekend.
Here’s a screen shot of one of Gaffney’s FB posts about yesterday’s protest:
Gaffney did this during a weekend America honors our greatest Presidents – politicians like FDR, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt.
He’s made Donald Trump, his political role model – not Teddy or Abe.
And it’s this way with all devils like Trump and Gaffney: They sense the good guy/gal qualities in people/voters – and go in for the kill, thinking the people are too stupid and naive to see the truth, that they can be easily lied to and manipulated. They spin their web of lies because they believe their opponents or the people are not gonna “catch on” or fight back because they won’t be able to wrap their heads around all the noise, confusion, convoluted fake facts they’ve created. A win for the Trump’s and Gaffney’s!
Don’t bet on it!
Michael Gaffney, like Donald Trump, will be called out and exposed by the press and a wise hoi polloi EVERY time he does something wicked, illegal … low-down low.
Today, on Presidents Day, when we remember and honor our great presidents, City Councilor Michael Gaffney chooses to slither beneath us, swollen with his own green puss of lies and hatred for American Democracy.
Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World
By Jay Sekulow, (2016, First Howard Books, 310 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
If you dislike Muslims, you’ll love this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World, will be a severe disappointment. That was this writer’s opinion after reading Jay Sekulow’s Unholy Alliance. In this book, Sekulow postulates the unlikely theory that “Muslim jihadists” such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are conspiring with Iran and Vladimir Putin’s Russia to take over the world.
Sekulow wants the reader to believe that Sunni terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are, or could be, allied with Iranian Shiites to seize the planet. That the Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting each other for 1,400 years argues against this.As support for his belief in a pan-Muslim terrorist conspiracy, Sekulow says Shiite Iran is the major backer of the Sunni Hamas movement in the West Bank. That is an exceptional case, as Hamas is in the belly of Israel, and Israel is a major target of Islamic extremists today.
Sekulow ardmits that Iran is fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria, and asserts later that Al-Qaeda directs its overseas operations from Iranian sanctuaries. The idea that Iran is knowingly allowing Al-Qaeda to direct its Syrian followers from Iranian territory to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guards supporting Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, is absurd.
Chief Counsel of ACLJ
Sekulow is the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative version of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The ACLJ was founded in 1990 by law school graduate and evangelical minister Pat Robertson to protect constitutional and human rights worldwide,” says Wikipedia. “ACLJ generally pursues constitutional issues and conservative Christian ideals in courts of law.”
This book reads like a law review article. Sekulow sources his book with Teutonic thoroughness, citing 1,460 endnotes in the186 pages in the body of the book. There are 119 pages – or 38% of the total – devoted to acknowledgments, notes, appendixes, and the index.
“Unholy Alliance” is like another tome reviewed here, “Trouble in the Tribe”. (See http://incitytimesworcester.org/steve-parked-%F0%9F%9A%99-in-roses-space-incity-times-book-review/.) In “Trouble in the Tribe”, we noted how the author dumped a great deal of specific information into endnotes, “which should have been better served in the main text, or attached as footnotes on the pages where they are cited.” In Unholy Alliance, there is a whole page for one endnote, and a large mass in commentary in the others that would better serve the reader being attached as footnotes. Unlike “Trouble in the Tribe”, “Unholy Alliance” makes little pretense at being an evenhanded analysis.
Sekulow analyzes the Muslim faith. He provides examples of how British Islamic groups prefer Islamic tribunals using Sharia law to British courts, and the terrible injustices which take place in those tribunals, particularly against women. He implies that America’s Muslim population has the same plan for the U.S. This book was published in September 2016, before Donald Trump’s surprising upset. Trump’s election makes the possibility of American courts adopting Sharia law remote.
He quotes sections of the Koran which, taken out of context and the times in which they were written, make the Muslim faith look absurd and blood thirsty. Sekulow acknowledges that critics of Judaism have done the same type of misrepresentation of the Jewish bible. He excuses this by saying essentially that the Koran was intended as a “universal and timeless” document, while the Jewish bible is a history book.
Some of the sources cited by Sekulow are at best dubious. This is another reason the author may have avoided footnotes. To find who the references are for some of these, you must turn several hundred pages forward to look up the endnote. On the other hand, if there were footnotes naming these sources, the questionable nature of some of Sekulow’s sources would become immediately known to the reader.
To illustrate this, we did a computer analysis of Chapter Nine “Iran and Al Qaeda”. The last time America launched a preemptive invasion in the Middle East, George W. Bush and the neocons linked Al-Qaeda to Iraq.
We plugged into an Excel spreadsheet the 141 sources cited by the author in 132 endnotes in Chapter 9. We then sorted the data by two sequences: by the source cited in the endnote; and by the year in which the source originated. We found:
• 51% of the sources were dated 2009 or prior. For some reason, Sekulow relied on older historical information. There were only four sources from 2012, two cites from one source dated 2014, and three from 2016.
• One out of five endnotes (28 in total) cited Ronen Bergman’s book “The Secret War with Iran.” One PBS broadcast was cited seven times. The 2004 9/11 Commission Report was cited 17 times. The 13 sources dated 2013 included four marked “opinion” in its web locations, and seven endnotes were from three sources.
• Most disturbing of all was Sekulow’s frequent cites to the Weekly Standard, the neoconservative magazine that clamored for the disastrous 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. One such article, cited in five endnotes, was co-authored by William Kristol, America’s foremost neoconservative. There were 23 sources dated 2015; sixteen of these, or 70%, derived from the Weekly Standard. The same people who bought us the war in Iraq are now ginning up for a war in Iran.
As we said at the beginning of this book review, if you dislike Muslims, you’ll like this book. If you were looking for an even-handed description of the Middle East turmoil, reading “Unholy Alliance” will be a severe disappointment.
editor’s note: In honor of Black History Month, we re-post one of Parlee’s Black History Month ICT columns.
But first, here’s MLK Jr:
… and President Obama, a leader we miss so intensely these days it hurts!! A mountain of a man (and orator) compared to the nefarious sack of Trump shit who usurped the Oval Office in November 2016 (my heart is broken!💔)
– R. Tirella
By Parlee Jones
There has been a lot of discussion lately as to the relevance of Black History Month. Is it still needed? Why should there be a Black History Month. For me, I feel that it is still relevant. Not only for Black people, but for all people. We celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King at the library this past January. When I ordered the cake, the woman who took my order, did not know who Dr. King was. Hmm. Yes, she was from another country. Welcome. Yes, she was enjoying the freedoms that were won through the Civil Rights movement. No, she didn’t know who he was. There are a lot of people enjoying the freedoms that were wrought from the Civil Rights movement who don’t know the history.
What hurts more is the fact that our young Black people don’t know who Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers or Emmet Till were. Yes, I concede that there have been improvements in regards to acknowledging the accomplishments of Blacks here in America, but there is still a lot of denial, resentment and straight out disdain for Americans of a darker hue. Just the blatant disrespect shown towards our President and the First Lady shows that America still has issues with Black people in power positions.
Knowledge of self to better yourself! Every people has a history. And, every people should know some of that history.
Black History Month had its origins in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (“ASALH”). Through this organization Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. In 1976 this commemoration of Black history in the United States was expanded by ASALH to Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an African-American activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP). He was killed in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO), in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hampton’s death was chronicled in the 1971 documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton, as well as an episode of the critically acclaimed documentary series Eyes on the Prize. He was shot twice in the head at close range.
Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. He became active in the civil rights movement after returning from overseas service in World War II and completing secondary education; he became a field secretary for the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music, and film.
Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Till was returned to Chicago and his mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.
Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.
Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.
King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Towards the end of his life, MLK Jr. was passionate about economic equality – for everyone. Poverty – as well as peace – were the two issues he was now speaking about. Then he was gunned down … . Here he is on economic equality:
“Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively…the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada.
“Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it. We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
Toward the end of the speech, King refers to threats against his life and uses language that seems to foreshadow his impending death:
“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
“So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything.
“I’m not fearing any man.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Of course, people say they are tired of hearing these stories, but, until there is equality for all, these stories will need to be told! In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Nat Turner and all our ancestors who survived middle passage and helped to build this country, I salute you and will keep your memories alive ~ not only in the month of February, but 365 days a year!
****** editor’s note: from Congressman Jim McGovern’s office. I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.:
Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat, joined 26 of his fellow lawmakers on a letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) demanding a full investigation of potential ethics violations concerning Kellyanne Conway’s recent public comments encouraging Americans to purchase items from the fashion line produced by President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump. The letter was led by Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI).
In an interview from the White House Press Briefing room, Conway, who is a Counselor to President Donald Trump, appears to have violated Office of Government Ethics laws by promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand on Fox News.
According to the Office of Government Ethics, “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private, for the endorsement of any product, service of enterprise, or for the gain of friends, relatives, or person with the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”
Congressman McGovern and his fellow lawmakers are calling on Chairman Chaffetz to “examine potential ethics violations concerning Kellyanne Conway’s recent public comments encouraging Americans to purchase items from the fashion line produced by President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.”
“Across the government, federal employees are expected to be held to a high standard of ethics. As a federal employee, Kellyanne Conway appears to have clearly violated these standards with her recent comments,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is especially troubling that Kellyanne Conway appears to have used her position of power in the White House to directly enrich the Trump family through Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. Such a blatant disregard for federal law and ethics standards set for public servants undermines public faith in our government.”
McGovern and House Democrats criticized Chaffetz for failing to exercise any oversight of the Trump White House up to this point. “To date, you have shown little inclination to conduct even basic oversight of President Trump or his top advisers. Appearing last night on CNN, you stated repeatedly that you would not request information about the President’s massive conflicts of interest, referring to such oversight efforts as a ‘fishing expedition.’ However, you did promise to investigate future incidents when ‘something goes awry,’ as it clearly has here.”
“We encourage you to examine the blatant and inappropriate remarks made by Kellyanne Conway immediately and ensure members of the Trump Administration do not continue to use their positions of power to enrich members of the Trump family.”
Joining McGovern and Pocan on the letter are Representatives Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Val Demings (Fl-10), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Theodore E. Deutch (FL-21), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Richard M. Nolan (MN-08), Jared Polis (CO-02), David Price (NC-04), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07).
Full Text of the Letter from House Democrats to Chairman Chaffetz:
February 9, 2017
Chairman Jason Chaffetz
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Chaffetz:
We are writing to request the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examine potential ethics violations concerning Kellyanne Conway’s recent public comments encouraging Americans to purchase items from the fashion line produced by President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, is a federal employee and appears to have clearly violated federal ethics laws delineated by the Office of Government Ethics.
According to the Office of Government Ethics, “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.” In a February 9, 2017, interview from the White House press briefing room with the Fox News Channel, Kellyanne Conway urged Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff…It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it…I fully—I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Across the government, federal employees are expected to be held to a high standard of ethics. As a federal employee, Kellyanne Conway appears to have clearly violated these standards with her recent comments. It is especially troubling that Kellyanne Conway appears to have used her position of power in the White House to directly enrich the Trump family through Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. Such a blatant disregard for federal law and ethics standards set for public servants undermines public faith in our government.
To date, you have shown little inclination to conduct even basic oversight of President Trump or his top advisers. Appearing last night on CNN, you stated repeatedly that you would not request information about the President’s massive conflicts of interest, referring to such oversight efforts as a “fishing expedition.” However, you did promise to investigate future incidents when “something goes awry,” as it clearly has here.
We encourage you to examine the blatant and inappropriate remarks made by Kellyanne Conway immediately and ensure members of the Trump Administration do not continue to use their positions of power to enrich members of the Trump family.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This demonstration, in support of Worcester’s immigrants and refugees, is to show THE CITY AND THE WORLD that Donald Trump and City Councilor Michael Gaffney’s hate-filled demagoguery has no place in Worcester! They will not score political points with our most vulnerable people – most of them women and children (under 12 years of age!)!
Let’s stop the madness in Worcester!
This demonstration is organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice Worcester. To learn more and sign up, check out their FB page!
Clark University’s Higgins School of Humanities’ spring dialogue symposium asks ‘What’s so funny?’
Lectures, exhibits and films examine how humor connects and divides
This spring, Clark University’s Higgins School for Humanities presents “What’s so funny?” a symposium that comprises lectures, community conversations and exhibits on humor.
“Our symposium asks how humor creates and fragments communities. What larger cultural, social, and political role does humor play? In short, what can we learn when we take jokes, comedy, and laughter seriously?” wrote Amy Richter, director of the Higgins School of Humanities.
All events listed below are FREE TO ALL and will be held on the Clark University campus:
“The Science of Laughter”
Wednesday, February 1
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
British neuroscientist and stand-up comedian Sophie Scott (University College London) will discuss the sometimes surprising science and evolution of laughter—an emotion with its roots in play and social bonding. She will explore questions such as: How and why do humans laugh? What do brain studies reveal about laughter? What happens when laughter goes wrong? This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology at Clark.
Lecture and exhibition
“Cartooning; Sense, Nonsense, Applications”
Tuesday, February 7
Exhibition runs from Tuesday, Feb. 7, through Monday, May 22
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
Cartoonists James Sturm and Caleb Brown will look beyond graphic novels and iconic characters to emphasize cartooning’s ability to communicate complex information quickly and effectively, share powerful and precise visual narratives, and engage readers of all ages, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Sturm, cofounder of The Center for Cartoon Studies, will curate an accompanying exhibit on “applied cartooning.” The selected images will highlight the ways the medium itself is being used to innovate and problem-solve in medicine, business, education, and other fields.
This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, Difficult Dialogues, and the Media, Culture and the Arts Program.
“Dark Humor and the African American Image”
Thursday, February 16
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
Scholar and curator Tiffany E. Barber will draw upon her recent exhibition, “Dark Humor: African American Art from the University of Delaware,” to consider the significance of humor in contemporary art. Barber will discuss how contemporary black artists, such as Camille Billops, David Hammons, Barkley Hendricks, and Peter Williams, employ subversive humor to question the currency of cultural and racial stereotypes.
This event is part of the African American Intellectual Culture Series, and is cosponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Office of the Provost, and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.
Talk and book signing
“Light in the Dark: A Talk on Writing and Humor”
Thursday, February 23
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
Is it possible to fake your own death in the twenty-first century? With six figures of student loan debt, author Elizabeth Greenwood was tempted to find out. She set off on a foray into the world of death fraud, where for $30,000 a consultant can make you disappear, possibly forever. Greenwood will read from her book “Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud” (2016), and introduce us to men and women desperate enough to lose their identities—and their families—to begin again. She will lead a discussion on the role of humor in illuminating and exploring our darkest impulses. A book signing will follow. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Writing Center.
Lecture and book signing
“BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some”
Wednesday, March 1
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
For Chris Edwards, a former advertising creative director, changing his gender from female to male took balls…and a damn good sense of humor. How did he find the courage to come out at a company board meeting of white, middle-aged executives; to endure 28 painful and extensive surgeries; or to show up at his 10-year high school reunion? Edwards will read from his funny and poignant memoir “BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some” (2016), and share how humor helped him re-brand himself and gain acceptance from his family, friends, and colleagues at a time when the word “transgender” was almost non-existent.
A book signing will follow. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
“The Truth is Funny: An Improvisation Workshop”
Wednesday, March 15
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
“The truth is funny. Honest discovery, observation, and reaction is better than contrived invention.” The words of actor Del Close have inspired countless improvisational comics. In this workshop, Dan Balel (Theater) and Gino DiIorio (Theater) will lead us in theater games and improvisation exercises to develop trust, reveal truths, and generate laughs.
This event is cosponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Theatre Arts Program.
Film Screening and Discussion
“’THE LAST LAUGH’; A Film Screening and Discussion”
Tuesday, March 21
Jefferson Academic Center, Room 320
“THE LAST LAUGH,” a feature documentary by Ferne Pearlstein, proceeds from the premise that the Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy. But is it? History shows that even the victims of the Nazi concentration camps used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any hint of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. So where is the line? If we make the Holocaust off limits, what are the implications for other controversial subjects— 9/11, AIDS, racism—in a society that prizes freedom of speech? Valerie Sperling (Holocaust and Genocide Studies/Political Science) and Amy Richter (History) will facilitate a conversation after the film.
This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, and Screen Studies.
“Brother Jonathan Runs for President: American Humor, Vernacular Values, and the Rise of Trump”
Tuesday, March 28
Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons, 2nd floor
Challenges to America’s most sacred myths fuel the traditions of vernacular humor, which asserts faith in ordinary Americans and mistrust of elites. Spoof presidential campaigns by ostensibly ordinary citizens—heirs of Brother Jonathan, folklore’s quintessential American—have mocked the ideological contradictions of presidential campaigns whose vernacular values nonetheless yield elite results.
Professor Judith Yaross Lee (Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University) will consider how nearly 200 years of spoof campaigns in cartoon, video, newspaper features, and other formats highlight values and visions always at stake in the presidential race, but especially in the candidacy of Donald Trump. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Department of History, and the Bland Fund of the Department of Political Science.