Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux is a writing fellow at the Prospect. Her email is

Recent Articles

The Politics of Pain

How do liberals and conservatives view suffering? Two leading experts discuss. 

iStockPhoto I n the spring of 1992, as the contentious Democratic primary ground to a close, Bill Clinton was speaking at a rally in New York City when an AIDS activist accused him of ignoring the ongoing HIV epidemic. Uttering four words that epitomized his campaign style, Clinton told the activist, “I feel your pain.” Clinton’s remark was widely mocked by conservatives who believed that bleeding-heart liberal policy, under the pretext of compassion, was creating a culture of dependence. In his new book, Pain: A Political History , Keith Wailoo argues that over the past 60 years, sparring over what constitutes pain, who can judge pain, and how the government should mete out treatment has elevated our maladies into fraught political concerns. Pain resists measurement, raising questions about whether sufferers can be trusted to evaluate their own distress. Conservatives worry that chronic pain is a symbol of underlying social maladjustment, while liberals seek to put the means of...

Daily Meme: Ladies' Choice

Nothing sparks speculation in Washington like a new political memoir, but two are a true bonanza, enough fodder for days of online chatter. Last week, Hillary Clinton announced that the story of her four years as Secretary of State, the unimaginatively named Hard Choices , will appear in bookstores in June. Although Clinton has yet to officially declare her candidacy for the presidential nomination in 2016, publishing the book is as good as throwing her hat in the ring, at least according to some . Or maybe she just needs a book tour to stroke her ego , says Peggy Noonan. Just as the mania over the new Clinton opus began to wane today, Elizabeth Warren's memoir hit the shelves , bringing the debate over Clinton's chances roaring back to life. Warren continues to insist that she isn't running for president in 2016. But the book reads a lot like a campaign ad . There's also the question of why she chose to write the book in the first place. Political memoirs, after all, rarely sell well...

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

An ancient fragment doesn’t prove that Jesus was married—but it does raise questions about Christians’ attitudes toward sex.

AP Photo/Harvard University, Karen L. King
T he world of ancient papyrology—the study of tiny scraps of manuscripts unearthed in archeological digs across the Mediterranean—is not, in general, a font of juicy media stories. That is, unless the papyrus in question seems to suggest that Jesus, long understood to have been celibate, was married. Last September, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King presented her initial findings about a business-card-sized fragment of papyrus, believed to be the work of early followers of Jesus. The 33 words on the fragment included: Jesus said to them, “My wife …" "she will be able to be my disciple" King’s discovery—which she dubbed the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”—immediately made headlines across the world, and sent shockwaves through academic and religious communities. The Vatican dismissed the fragment, saying it was a clear fake. Scholars of antiquity lined up on either side, some declaring it a historic find, while others decried it as an inept forgery designed to undermine...

Daily Meme: The Passion of Kathleen Sebelius

Let's just say that this has not been Kathleen Sebelius's year. As secretary of Health and Human Services, she absorbed much of the blame for the botched rollout of the Obamacare website. Even after the White House exceeded its health insurance signup goal--the chance for a victory lap if there ever was one-- Sebelius announced last week that she was stepping down . Republicans could barely conceal their glee upon hearing that their arch-nemesis was departing. Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked her Twitter followers whether they'd be breaking out "red solo cups" or "crystal stemware" to celebrate Sebelius's resignation. Ted Cruz speculated that the Democrats pushed out Sebelius because Senate Democrats were "scared." Everyone had something to say about Sebelius's legacy. Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings generously declared that Sebelius would be a "footnote in history." (We should all be so lucky.) Now, Sebelius is on an apology tour. In an interview with Meet the Press on Sunday...

The Abortion Restriction That’s Too Extreme for Most Pro-Lifers

AP Images/The Columbus Dispatch/Brooke LaValley
E arlier this month, lawmakers in Kansas ended this session’s debate over abortion on a surprisingly low-key note. The Republican leadership shepherded two minor tweaks to existing abortion policies through the legislature, while staving off a far more contentious measure: a bill that would criminalize abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill’s advocates say they are confident it would have passed, had it reached the floor; Kansas has strong anti-abortion majorities in both houses of the legislature and pro-life crusader Sam Brownback in the governor’s mansion. But the Republican leadership, prompted by the state’s most powerful pro-life group, Kansans for Life, used a legislative loophole to keep their more radical colleagues from attaching the fetal heartbeat proposal. Why, in a state where nearly every strain of anti-abortion restriction has taken root with ease, are advocates of the fetal heartbeat ban facing such stiff...