Wandering Eye: How often do police rape?, rethinking the Salem witch trials, and more

How often do police rape? The Associated Press dug into records and found about 1,000 police officers and prison guards who lost their licenses because of sex crimes or sexual misconduct over the past six years. It's certainly an undercount, the reporters say, because many cops are allowed to resign quietly instead of giving up their state license to be a cop—which allows them to sign on to another department: "And while there is a national index of decertified officers, contributing to it is voluntary and experts say the database, which is not open to the public, is missing thousands of names." Also, New York, California, and four other states "have no decertification authority over officers who commit misconduct." The anecdotes the reporters reveal are horrific: women pulled over in their cars and raped, cops raping several different women over years. The layers of malfeasence are mind-boggling. "Michael Ragusa – now serving a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting three women – admitted during the hiring process with the Miami Police Department that he'd solicited a prostitute, committed theft, sold stolen property and abused a relative. He also was flagged by a psychologist as having impulse control issues," the story says. "Still, Ragusa was hired, and he remained on the force for more than three years. Officials later said that the investigator in charge of his background check had himself been disciplined 26 times and was once arrested for falsifying documents." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Halloween has come and gone, but this article in Autostraddle, about the Salem witch trials, is worth reading regardless. In it, the writer, who grew up near Salem, Massachusetts, reflects on how the Salem witch trials look from a 2015 perspective, and what that has to say about our own cultural power dynamics: "The modern cultural narrative of the trials and of 'witch hunts' that I was always fed held a moral lesson about fear: how dangerous it can be to let fear determine one's actions. It's certainly a fair point. But today in 2015, the events in 1692 seem to be more about power: who was denied it, by what methods it could be possessed, how it was used by the people who had it, who it hurt and who it saved. Obviously there are plenty of points of illogic in the substance of the accusations and the worldview of the people who believed them — how were so many women flying through the air by night with no one noticing? If so many witches had been present for so long, why did they suddenly mount an attack only in 1692? Why against children, and not village leaders? — the one I can't get over is this: If Tituba had really been a powerful witch backed by Satan and his minions, why was she enslaved? If Sarah Good had supernatural powers, why was she homeless and dependent upon begrudging charity to eat? If the people who were executed were full of the power of the Devil, why couldn’t they save themselves from hanging? . . . Clearly at least part of what's at play is a radically reimagined rhetoric of power and victimhood, one that allowed Parris (and a village) to see themselves as being victimized by a woman who was entirely at their mercy, and was without the barest legal or social measure of recourse to protect herself from harm." She has a lot more interesting thoughts on how we perceive witchcraft and the occult in the contemporary world, and who has that leveraged against them. (Anna Walsh)

 

The World Series is over, but that means the fun of hot stove season—the time when managers are hired and fired and players get signed and traded, for all you non-sports ball fans out there—is only just beginning. And our neighbors to the south in Washington, D.C. and fellow MASN partners, the Nationals, are already in a world of trouble. They made an offer to one guy, Bud Black, to manage the team, but it was for so few years and so little money that Black was "deeply offended." Now, after reports had already surfaced Black had the job, Dusty Baker is being brought in. Here are how baseball insiders described the situation to The Washington Post: "Laughingstock." "They don't know what they're doing." "Dumpster fire." "All about money." As the Post puts it: "This season, the Lerners shelled out $165 million in payroll for players, sixth in the majors. Good for them. They still lack an understanding of how to treat people within their industry." The team's 2015 campaign was so underwhelming, despite being World Series favorites in the spring, that the newspaper ran a three-part series on their downward spiral. And you thought it was a rough year for the Orioles. (Brandon Weigel)

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