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Roundtable: A Time for Dancin’ in the Streets?

Sheryl: Not long after the initial news of bin Laden’s death, I began to hear the reports of celebrations in the streets of Washington, D.C. and New York City. I completely understand that people would feel relieved to know that the mission was successful and that bin Laden would no longer be a threat, however the thought of going out into the streets to celebrate never crossed my mind. The news of bin Laden’s killing was very soberinga sad reminder that we live in a world in which someone could recruit others to carry out a horrific act that would result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people. 

Reverend Paul Raushenbush, who served as a chaplain at Columbia University during the September 11, 2001 attacks, discusses the conflicted morality of the last week's celebrations

Lydia: I think some people thought it was their patriotic duty to celebrate bin Ladens death, as odd as that seems. Although it felt very much like a personal attack, most Americans didnt suffer a personal loss and have perhaps lost some perspective in the nearly ten years since 9/11. I doubt that there were many, if any, survivors of the 9/11 attacks and/or friends and relatives of those killed that day among those celebrating. Do friends and family members celebrate when the person who murdered their loved one is executed? I don't think many, if any, do. There may be a sense of closure, but the person is still gone. The people killed that day are still gone and killing Osama bin Laden didn’t change that.

Sheryl: I understand how people—onlookers and actual participants—would view these celebrations as a form of patriotic expression. You’re probably right to think there were not many, if any, survivors and/or people who lost a loved one out there that night. My immediate response was disbelief and then a sense of relief. It does seem like bin Laden had taken a back seat in the consciousness of the country—something that probably did not happen for those most personally affected; we had grown used to the idea that he might very well remain out there unpunished for the devastation he caused.

Closure is personal. It looks different for each person. Your loved one is still gone, whether it is the next day or nearly ten years later. As you suggest, the family and friends of murder victims are likely to experience a range of emotions when the perpetrators of the murders are killed/executed.

On a slightly different note, I am also saddened because I am not sure that our country could have handled any other outcome to the bin Laden story. What does it say about our faith in our own justice system when we are unwilling to have the perpetrators of these despicable acts brought before our federal courts?

Lydia: I’m sure there would have been all kinds of discussion about how and where to try bin Laden, had he been captured. I also think there would have been a lot of criticism of President Obama from conservatives if bin Laden had been captured alive, in the vein of, “he’s too cerebral and level headed, we want to see him get angry"—as was said about his handling of the BP oil spill in the gulf


Roundtable: Protection Isn’t Tacky But Ignorance Certainly Is

Lydia: will.i.am of the musical group The Black Eyed Peas had this to say in the May issue of ELLE magazine, regarding women having condoms in their homes:

ELLE: If you walked into a woman’s house, what one item would convince you that you weren't compatible?

W: If she had condoms in her house, that would just fuckin’ throw me off. That’s just tacky.

ELLE: Well, okay, I could see if she had a candy bowl full of them on the coffee table. But if she's got a few in a drawer, wouldn't that simply suggest she's health-conscious?

W: I just think, like, if you’re into someone and you guys get to that level, then that’s something you should converse about together and say, “Hey, maybe we should get some.” Another pet peeve is wet sinks.

I never thought that he was the sharpest tool in the shed but this is just ridiculous! He’s a pop star, not an intellectual or social critic and I don’t necessarily expect him to be progressive or socially conscious, but making booty-shaking music and appreciating a woman being in control of her health should not be mutually exclusive.

What do you think?

Lydia: Wonderful response on TheBody.com

Karima: Ah, c’mon! I’m so sick and tired of this sh*t. “Hey, maybe we should get some.” Condoms should be the default birth control. Period. I think this says more about how uncomfortable he is about a woman's freedom to have lovers. Yes, there are sexually active women out there will.i.am, not waiting by the phone in a chastity belt for you.

Sheryl: Whoa!!!!  I am a kind of surprised. Hearing him speak and seeing the good things he has done for others during his various Oprah appearances, I would imagine he would know better. Unfortunately for Will and for all who read his comments, being charitable has no correlation with a person’s ability to understand that a woman choosing to protect herself is not a topic for debate or discussion. Asking a partner to wear a condom is a matter of the woman’s health. Hopefully, he will learn that tacky is saying, “Hey, maybe we should get some.” 

Lydia: I think Kellee Terrell (see link to TheBody.com above) hit the nail on the head “This is 2011, not 1956.” I think hes in a time warp as far as womens health and sexuality are concerned. Hopefully, he has heard about the discussion surrounding his comments and is educating himself. It would be great if he then came out in another interview or made a statement or a public service announcement, saying that his eyes have been opened and his view broadened and he's learned x,y,z and encourages others to do the same. I doubt it will happen, but it would be great if it did.


Roundtable: Save the Humans


Engineers at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, The New York Times, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, via Jiji Press, via AFP-GettyLucinda: I’ve been following what’s happening in Japan as much as I can, which means I read a little here and there. It’s frightening and heartbreaking to hear from elderly Japanese people who lived through air raids during World War II that the situation in northeast Japan is much, much worse than that was. I’m also worried about the havoc the tsunami has wreaked on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and struck by the sacrifice the workers who have remained at the power station have made and continue to make to avert a nuclear meltdown.

Like a lot of other Americans, I’m wondering what this means for us. I was shocked to learn that we have over 100 nuclear power plants in the U.S., and 16 non-operational plants. Someone said to me yesterday that nuclear energy is “clean” and the only reason the power station in Japan is having an issue is because they didn’t have strong enough “security.” Now, this person is not an engineer and knows as little about nuclear power stations as I do, but there doesn’t seem to be anything “clean” about damaged nuclear reactors spewing radioactive material into the atmosphere or radioactive waste from these reactors, which has to be safely stored (for thousands of years) until the radioactivity diminishes. And there is no way we can plan for every contingency. Just look at what’s happening in Japan. The answer isn’t to make better nuclear power plants.

I get it: we need energy, and a lot of it. We are energy junkies. I turn my lights on in the morning, use hot water for a shower, charge my smartphone, go online and do hundreds of things each day that require energy. I just wish we were investing in finding viable energy sources that don’t endanger us all.

Someone please save the humans from themselves.

Sheryl: Unfortunately, I am not at all sure the United States will play any significant role in ensuring the end of nuclear power as an energy option or the development of renewable energy sources. You would think the near-meltdown in Japan would prompt an immediate review of our nuclear energy policy, at the very least. As of Friday, President Obama continued to point to nuclear power as a part of his energy plan, while the Republicans cautioned against taking any hasty action based on what is occurring in Japan. It looks like we will have to look to the heads of state in other countries that rely on nuclear energy to lead the way in an assessment of the danger.

In spite of President Obama’s support of nuclear energy during the campaign, I hoped his election would bring greater progress on the issue of viable renewable energy sources and reduction of carbon emissions. The administration is making an effort to move us forward by reducing our reliance on coal, and during the first two years of the Obama presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to limit carbon emissions was strengthened. Despite these efforts, it still seems the country is moving backwards. A recent Gallup poll shows the percentage of Americans concerned about global warming has declined by fifteen points since 2008 and that nearly half of the people surveyed believe claims about global warming are exaggerated. It does not help that the Republican-controlled Congress is doing everything in its power to gut the EPA's ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions and funnel more money toward the oil and nuclear industries.

I hope the damage from the Japanese nuclear disaster does not become as great as has been feared. It is regrettable that the United States has not taken a greater position of leadership to ensure that someone save the humans from themselves

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