Five Best Friday Columns

On Charlie Sheen's women, Netanyahu's credibility problem, and the subtle power of the First Amendment

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  • Anna Holmes on Charlie Sheen's Violence Against Women  In the media firestorm surrounding Charlie Sheen's recent ramblings and outbursts, Anna Holmes points out that little attention is paid to the female victims of Sheen's rage over the past two decades. Backed by--until he recently offended the higher-ups at CBS--a blaring $1.2 million per episode of his sitcom and a reputation as "a bad boy," Charlie Sheen has been able to use and abuse a slew of wives, girlfriends, and paid sex workers with little to no consequences. Holmes, the creator of feminist pop culture site Jezebel, argues that there is something about the "type" of women in Sheen's life that gives the public a sense of permission to ignore them. "A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal," she explains. "The promise of a modern Cinderella ending--attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man--is always the assumed goal." Holmes declares that this perception is fueled by reality television, which glorifies impulsive, violent men and the women who tolerate them.
  • Joan Wickersham on Nonprofit 'Giveaways'  In today's Boston Globe, Wickersham pens a mock letter to an unnamed nonprofit. "Dear Nonprofit Environmental Group: Thank you so much for the T-shirt," she begins. "When I sent you a contribution of $35, I thought you were going to use it to buy land, thereby helping to protect open space, endangered species, and water," she writes. "But no: According to the receipt you sent, you put almost half of my donation toward the 'fair market value' of the 'Nonprofit Environmental Group Long-sleeved Logo Tee.'" Wickersham argues that the giveaways and perks--the "pounds of stuff"--that many nonprofits use to entice supporters are often counterproductive and hypocritical given their stated intent.
  • Aluff Benn on Israeli PM Netanyahu's Credibility Problem  As the Middle East balance of power shifts, Benn writes in Haaretz--the subject of a recent New Yorker feature--about the many issues facing Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose poll numbers are plunging. "'The world' is united in its belief that Israel is clinging to the status quo," he writes, while Netanyahu seems divided between attempts to satisfy the international community without causing the break-up of his own party. "The Palestinians are approaching 'White September,' in which they will declare independence - and if they meet with an Israeli rejection, begin an Egypt-style popular uprising," Benn says, noting that "the conditions that led to the uprising in Cairo's Tahrir Square also exist in East Jerusalem: masses of young people with no hope, but exposed to the temptations of globalization and the Internet." In addressing questions around Israeli settlements, Iran and the international community, Netanyahu is "facing the gamble of his life."
  • Kimberley Strassel on Rising Oil Prices  The price of oil went up to over $100 a barrel last week again, over $4 a gallon in some areas of the country. This throws up some roadblocks for "President Obama's regulatory assault on domestic oil and gas production," Strassell says at The Wall Street Journal. "Nobody should forget the extraordinary public fury over $4 gas in 2008," the Journal says--it was enough to move a floundering John McCain ahead of Barack Obama in the polls until the financial crisis hit. While Bush escaped blame as an "oil-man," Obama won't be so lucky: "Obama's anti-oil record is evident, and Republicans (who, unlike in 2008, run the House), will use their bully pulpit to directly connect prices to the Obama energy freeze." If Obama wants to come out unscathed, he "will have to make a major shift."
  • Megan Crepeau on Ignoring the Westboro Baptist Church  Megan Crepeau takes to the the Chicago Tribune's opinion pages today to congratulate  "haters of all kinds" on their big win in the Supreme Court this week. But Crepeau clarifies that  the Westboro Baptist Church's victory against the families whose funerals they protest does more than prove how expansive and nondiscriminating First Amendment protection really is. The Court's decision is also a win for those opposed to the Church's demonstrations because, Crepeau explains, it prevents Westboro Baptist from presenting itself as a victim. Concludes Crepeau, "they're small, they're aging, and they thrive on the hate they inspire. The First Amendment lets them wither away in the open air."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.