Wandering Eye: Defending DeRay McKesson's Doritos tweet, the best Boston accent ever, and more

"In the 15 states where high court judges are directly elected, justices rejected the death sentence in 11 percent of appeals, less than half the 26 percent reversal rate in the seven states where justices are appointed." This according to an analysis of 2,102 cases by Reuters reporters Dan Levine and Kristina Cooke. "Justices who are initially appointed but then must appear on the ballot in 'retention' elections fell in the middle, reversing 15 percent of death penalty decisions in those 15 states, according to opinions retrieved from online legal research service Westlaw, a unit of Thomson Reuters." The piece considers whether the pressure of facing re-election creates unconstitutional incentives for judges to uphold death sentences, and talks to several judges about it. The conservative ones say no. And here is the thing: Is it surprising that elected judges trend more conservative (i.e. death-sentence-prone) than those appointed for life? American voters do seem to enjoy their death sentences—at least when they are meted out to others. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Didja see the video of the guy in Boston who found the water monstah? Holy shit, bro. The profanity-laced video of Michael Bergin, who has the thickest of Boston accents, and his friend discovering some sea creature—reportedly a sunfish—on a fishing trip burned up the internet yesterday, and it's not hard to see why. Bergin's wicked accent sounds like a more extreme version of Mark Wahlberg's character in "The Departed," and in his expletive-laden bro-ish freakout, he managed to spit out gems like, "We seeing some shit we ain't never seen before, kid." Just watch. (Brandon Weigel)


There has been some debate on Twitter the past few days over a tweet from activist DeRay McKesson on Sept. 17. "Rainbow Doritos are a tasty way to support LGBT causes," it read and it was accompanied by a link to rather PR-ish sounding Mashable post about Doritos Rainbows chips and their collaboration with the It Gets Better Campaign in support of LGBTQ youth. Typically, the right-wing, often racist hacks who criticize everything McKesson does questioned the tweet, but so did some of those sympathetic to the activist—mostly because the tweet feels like McKesson probably got paid by Doritos to tweet it, which is weird and is perhaps a slippery slope. We don't know for sure if he was paid for it (UPDATE: McKesson tweeted at City Paper, "I was not paid to tweet about @Doritos. I have never been paid to tweet") but we'd like to mount a quick defense of McKesson shilling for Doritos if he did indeed do that. Namely, the dude needs to get paid. He has dedicated his life to protesting over the past year or so, and at a certain point, if he's going to continue doing so—and lots of people, including some of those crying sell-out want him to continue—he is going to have to make some money. And this doesn't counter McKesson's brand of activism anyway. He is a new kind of activist. A Pop Activist, really. His power comes, in part, by way of how many people he is able to reach. He is an important pop political figure in the same way that, say, Jay Z or Oprah and other politically engaged African-Americans navigating late capitalism are pop political figures. And McKesson is only a radical in the eyes of those who call him a "race-baiter." He's fairly middle of the road as far as the protest movement goes; he is talking to the mainstream Democratic candidates. And before he was a noted activist, McKesson worked for Teach For America, a fairly divisive organization. Not to mention, his main mode of communication is Twitter, which people seem to forget is also owned by a big scary corporation. Let DeRay make some dough, all right? (Brandon Soderberg)

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