Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: South Africa

Cecil the Lion and the 3 Pitfalls of Outrage Politics

The viral story of the week is the tragic shooting of Cecil the Lion. Cecil was a famous lion that was tracked by researchers from the University of Oxford. The shooting has many people outraged at the hunter–American dentist Walter Palmer. Palmer is receiving an immense amount of abuse on the internet, and some are even calling for Palmer to be hurt. It is and should be a crime to kill research animals and it is and should be a crime to lure protected species out of their protected areas for the purpose of killing them. Nonetheless, the reaction and the reactions to the reaction are leaving me a bit uneasy. Outrage politics is ugly politics. When we are motivated by rage and righteous indignation, we rarely show thoughtfulness or empathy. Let me show you what I mean.

Read the rest of this entry »

Developing Countries Shouldn’t Host the Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia got started yesterday. In the run-up, we’ve heard a variety of zany stories, from booked hotel rooms that for whatever reason were not ready to a road so expensive it could have been paved with foie gras. The Sochi games may go off without a hitch from here on out, and I wish the Russians the best of luck, but developing countries are not good choices for hosting major sporting events, whether they be the Olympics, the World Cup, or any such thing. I say this not because the athletes and foreign press have to make do with inferior conditions (although sometimes they do), but because it is not in the interest of the citizens of developing countries for their states to host these games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Palestinians Need a Mandela

Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948. Martin Luther King Jr. died in 1968. Now Nelson Mandela has died in 2013, and the last of the big three satyagrahi has turned out the lights, and for the first time peacefully, in his own time, rather than in response to the inescapable mandate of the bullet. This has me wondering what future role nonviolent civil resistance has to play in world affairs. Above all others, it is the Arab Israeli cause that seems to me most in need of a leader of this kind. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stephen Hawking’s Israel Boycott

Stephen Hawking was scheduled to do a conference in Jerusalem, but has backed out, choosing to respect the academic boycott of Israel. The academic boycott seeks to show the Israeli case to be analogous to the South African case–during the apartheid era in South Africa, many academics chose to boycott that country. Is Stephen Hawking right to respect the academic boycott?

Read the rest of this entry »