Critical Essays

  • Terrorism, Extremism and Xenophobia (10/29/2015)             Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 there have been a number of scholarly studies on terrorism. These studies differ greatly from the social construction of the terrorist threat created by the media and politicians. The highly sensationalized and highly selective reporting on terrorism has irresponsibly raised levels of fear and incited discriminatory rhetoric targeting the American Muslim community. Of course, research on terrorism is difficult. But scholarly research on the topic is very useful in providing real knowledge about terrorism and a basis for a realistic awareness
  • Media, Crime and Hegemony (10/22/2015) For three decades scholars in mass communication and criminology have called our attention to the role of the media in the social construction of crime. Study after study has documented how media representations in both the entertainment and news arenas have created a social reality of a dangerous world full of danger and risk populated by stereotyped “others” (Jewkes, 2010; Marsh and Melville, 2009). A flood of mediated images emanating from our televisions, computers, books, newspapers and magazines, movies and even popular music instruct us on the seemingly natural order of the social world. It is through this incessant institutionalized
  • The Violence of Silence in Richmond, KY (10/12/2015) On the morning of October 5th, 2015 Eastern Kentucky University police issued the second public safety alert of terroristic graffiti threatening campus in less than a year. The message “KILL ALL BY 10/8/15 THIS BU OOP” was scrawled across the men’s bathroom wall of the Powell Building on main campus. Some people rolled their eyes at this message as it was conveniently discovered at the beginning of midterms week. Others proceeded with precaution, nervously attending on-campus events, classes, and meetings. Some physically trembled at the thought of setting foot on EKU grounds in the face of such a threat. The message
  • Darren Wilson and American Policing in a Nutshell (8/25/2015) In August the New Yorker published a controversial article focused on Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, MO police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown ( The magazine faced some criticism for simply reporting Wilson’s point of view without critical comment. But a careful reading of this piece of “clean” journalism tells us everything we need to know about Mr. Wilson and why Michael Brown died. It also tells us a great deal about what is wrong with policing in the United States. Darren Wilson’s own words are a devastating critique. First, Wilson didn’t live in the community he was policing
  • It is NOT a needle in a haystack: Unearthing Patriarchy in a Rural Landscape (8/10/2015) The concept “rurality” often conjures two opposing images – first, of a bucolic farm, a long gravel road bordered by bales of hay, and a pasture with a herd of cows grazing lazily off the land. The other image is in stark contrast to the first- a vision that has been broadcast by the television and film industry to the mainstream public. In this light, “rural” takes the form of toothless inbred locals rocking back and forth in creaking chairs on the porch and staring down at passersby from an ominous and dilapidated house. It is this second image that
  • Transforming Justice: Lessons in Restorative and Transformative Approaches to Sexual Violence from Social Justice Organizations (6/11/2015) Abstract The criminal justice system rarely produces prosecutions in cases of sexual assault let alone true and enduring satisfaction for the victims and their families (Naylor, 2010). It offers little, if any, provision for perpetrators, their families, or the community that produced them (Hayden, 2012). This view is upheld by the population included in this study: anti-authoritarian (leftist) organizations. Far from frivolous or unorganized in their approach to combating sexual violence within their own ranks, these groups employ interventions in alignment with restorative and transformative justice, which are philosophies and practices representing nonviolent alternatives to retributive or mainstream criminal justice.
  • Organizing and Identity: Intersections, Eviscerations and Individuality (5/4/2015) This essay will annoy, piss-off, and bring denunciations from some of my friends and colleagues. That’s fine. One of the things that politically engaged people who are striving for substantial structural social change fail to do is to identify those things which make success difficult. And that starts by looking at ourselves. I am a white, male, heterosexual, meat-eating, butter-slathering, well-off, whiskey-drinking, cigarette-smoking, elderly professional. Many people looking at that description would assume that I am either a racist insurance salesman thrill-riding with police as an auxiliary cop in Oklahoma, or a corporate shill tea-bagging at a Koch brother’s fundraiser
  • Deservedness, Risk and Late Modernity in Jackie and Eric Garner (1/29/2015) The recent events surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice have shocked me. I don’t think the events themselves are that shocking anymore, but their proximity and the inspiration they provided for groups of people around the country is surprising. The protests and awareness campaigns make me proud. I’m not sure exactly how to explain why that is, and I think it is somewhat condescending to feel that way, but I can’t think of another appropriate word. Perhaps it’s because of these mixed feelings that I’ve remained relatively quiet. The idea that “they got this,” has
  • The Neoliberal Train for White Supremacism (1/22/2015) (Image: Tiago Hoisel – “Some of the commentators on cable television profess to be astounded by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Only the commentators themselves know if they are genuinely astonished at the disturbances, or if their amazement is just an act for the viewers. But speaking for myself, I, personally, am not a bit surprised, because I have lived through this all before – as have many White Americans… everything old is new again.” -Stormfront user James Harting, August 2014. James Harting, a Hitler-avatar-bearing member of Stormfront, the world’s largest white nationalist website, spoke an unfortunate truth; the
  • Police Violence, Capital and Neoliberalism (1/15/2015) The nationwide movement against police