Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast. To contact him, visit his website.
Most of the reaction to Arizona's passage of a draconian immigration bill -- one that is almost identical to the 2006 bill that set off mass immigration-rights protests across the country -- has focused on whether it will lead to racial profiling. SB 1070, which was approved by the state Legislature Tuesday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, makes undocumented presence in the state a criminal, rather than a civil, offense. It also empowers local law-enforcement officials to determine the citizenship status of a person if there is a "reasonable suspicion" he or she is undocumented.
In a case that involves dozens of religious groups as well as gay- and civil-rights organizations, the Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez on Monday. The justices will consider whether UC Hastings College of Law – a public institution – can deny funding to a campus religious group for violating the school's nondiscrimination policy. The Christian Legal Society, which requires its members to sign a pledge disavowing "fornication, adultery, and homosexual conduct," sued Hastings for refusing to recognize the student organization because it discriminates against gays.
John McWhorter has an analysis of "Palinspeak" at The New Republic that has gotten quite a bit of attention. As a trained linguist (by happenstance I was a PhD candidate at Cornell, where McWhorter taught, before switching to journalism), I think his take is refreshingly devoid of cliché alarmism over the "decline of the English language." McWhorter makes the interesting observation that the style of political speech has shifted from the rigid scripted performances of politicians like Warren G.
The Human Rights Campaign choreographed its rally against "don't ask, don't tell" last month to the smallest detail. Held midday on Washington's Freedom Plaza, it was headlined by comedian Kathy Griffin, who brought along the camera crew from her reality show, My Life on the D-List. After emerging from a cordoned-off area reserved for media, Griffin told a few jokes, then read letters from fans who had been affected by the military's policy. Rally participants held American flags distributed by HRC staff -- no drag queens, no rainbows -- and were told to pose, facing East, then South, then West. Photographers circled around them, snapping photos.
Responding to my piece about the souring prospects for immigration reform, Ezra Klein makes the odd statement that nativism is the "dog that didn't bark" (Kevin Drum has a good response to this here). Ezra writes: