No Jail for Gay Bashers?

gay bashing suspects

Two of the people connected to the brutal assault against two gay men in Center City just accepted plea deals where they won’t serve any jail time. Instead, they’re going to be on probation, suffer exile from Center City during this period, and have to volunteer at an LGBT organization.

The idea is that mercy and dialogue is better than prison. That idea isn’t just spiritually sound: It’s also endorsed by the victims of the crime.

To be perfectly frank, the sentence doesn’t satisfy my personal desire to see the homophobes in physical or emotional pain. That’s OK, though. Resentment is a crummy fuel to run society’s engine. And, I guess we don’t torture people anymore.

It’s hard to stomach, though. I mean, I’ve been punched for being gay before, too. And, I’ve dealt with casual homophobia on Philly streets my entire life. I want it to stop. But, it’s never going to stop. Bigotry and ignorance can only be mitigated with free speech and dialogue – not eradicated by stomping “enlightened” boots on people’s faces. Read more »

Hey Philadelphia, the SS United States Is a Rusting Money Pit

SS United States. Photo | Jeff Fusco

SS United States. Photo | Jeff Fusco

One of the longest bon voyages in modern Philadelphia history surrounds the SS United States, the derelict eyesore complementing the concrete prairie near Ikea along Columbus Boulevard in South Philly. Repeatedly, the SS United States Conservancy has sounded the alarm, saying that this historic relic would be scrapped unless Philadelphia came together and sunk millions into the rusting money pit.

According to the organization, it costs $60,000 a month to keep the ship afloat as a background prop for people eating at Chick-fil-A. And now the conservancy is pleading with Philadelphia to again save the oxidized fossil.

“If progress toward a new sales option or an infusion of funds does not occur by October 31, 2015,” says the organization, “we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible U.S.-based recycler.” In other words, the ship is heading toward scrapyard oblivion like it’s stolen copper wire out of an abandoned house.

Oh, I can already hear the polite society gasps at that one. I mean, who hasn’t stripped copper wire? (Answer: Probably people willing to sink millions upon millions into a hole for no apparent reason.) Read more »

Last Night, I Wanted to Bash the Gay-Bashers

A video from NBC10 shows footage of the attack on Thursday evening.

A video from NBC10 shows footage of the attack on Thursday evening.

Last night, Philly was enthralled with a minute-by-minute social media manhunt for the alleged perpetrators of a gay-bashing crime in Center City. We watched with rapt attention as one Twitter user used Facebook check-ins and graphs to track down those we think are responsible for last week’s heinous act.

The Philadelphia Police Department even expressed astonishment and gratitude, with Detective Joseph Murray tweeting, “I will take a couple thousand Twitter detectives over any one real detective any day.” This was only possible thanks to the journalists who pursued this story, most notably my colleagues at G Philly, and the teamwork of literally thousands of online, everyday Philadelphians.

This morning, word is that those suspected are lawyering up and about to turn themselves in. Coincidentally, they all look like caricatures of privileged suburban white people who my secret, inner Phascist, a la Frank Rizzo, loves to hate. (My inner fascist isn’t racist like Rizzo: He’s the exact opposite and wants to beat with a billy club anyone who, like Rizzo was, is racist. I resist succumbing to my inner fascist’s paradoxical far-left whims every single day.)

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Enough Is Enough: Ferguson, Authority, and America’s Never-Healing Race Wound


I know this is going to devastate a bunch of whiny privileged white people and politicians who would just love to say that we’re “post-racial” because we have a mixed-race president, but here we go:

America has a serious problem with police. And, it’s not a problem with police and everyone else. It’s a problem specifically between police (or people who fetishize authority) and people of color.

On August 9th, 2014, the 18-year-old Michael Brown was stopped by authorities in Ferguson, Missouri. Whatever happened during that stop is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Brown, a young African American man with seemingly no weapon on his person, was shot to death by police.

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I’m HIV-Positive, and I Have No Interest in News About HIV Cures

Philadelphia is all atwitter currently with news out of Temple University that researchers there have gotten a step closer to a so-called cure for HIV. Basically, medical researchers are doing their jobs. Being medical researchers, though, they need to gin up some interest and rationale for more funding, so they’ve decided to recklessly issue a statement so slippery you can’t exactly disagree with it: “This is one important step,” says Temple’s Dr. Kamel Khalili, “on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.”

Thanks to those four little letters — “cure” — many journalists who have no experience or strong understanding about HIV/AIDS are writing about HIV/AIDS and society is yet again unfurling the “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner. HIV/AIDS is about to be over! Will the last the person out please shut off the lights? Thanks.

Most people are zooming by the fact that this Temple discovery has no relevance to people living today or even in the near future; the discovery is simply a “proof of concept” with a completely uncertain future use, particularly if it’s anything like past “steps on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” More on that later.

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It’s One Year After Edward Snowden and Philly’s All Too Happy Living in a Surveillance State

Photo |

Photo |

Philly, it’s about time you exercised your rights and told government enough was enough.  Instead of actually solving the schools crisis, your government seems more obsessed with spying on you and telling you what you can put in  (or who you can pay to fuck) your bodies.

And, you’re perfectly OK with this. After all, who needs actual civil liberties when you’ve got Judge Judy educating your children on the television?

Then again, I can’t blame you:  This is the cradle of American identity so we might as well behave like the average American, right? (The average fat, wheezy, ignorant American is more concerned with waddling down to Walmart for another fix of sugary dope than safeguarding his constitutional rights).

This month marks the one year anniversary of the hubbub surrounding the National Security Agency and its former employee, and amateur twink model, Edward Snowden. Last year, Snowden shocked the world by disseminating evidence of NSA overreaches, arguably some of the most intrusive in America’s history.  He obtained this evidence while working there.  Upon learning that the federal government was spying on U.S. citizens domestically, a big no-no, we all clutched our pearls and made very loud noises indeed.

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You Can’t Be For Casinos and Against Pawn Shops

I find it fascinating that members of City Council right now want to put yet another zoning overlay in the city to prohibit new pawn and check cashing joints in Center City. The rationale is basically that pawn shops and check cashing joints shouldn’t be near casinos because … well, because.

Here in Philly, we’ve established that we are OK with the casino business model for two reasons: Individual freedom of people to gamble and for the fringe economic benefits of tourism. Still, our decisions have consequences.

One of these consequences is people pawning their shit to play chemin-de-fer.

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How About a Nutter Executive Order Decriminalizing Marijuana in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia Schools

Philadelphia is a city of big personalities and big egos. And, the biggest personality, both in style and substance, is His Honor the Mayor.

According to its Home Rule Charter, Philadelphia believes in a single, very strong executive.  This is reiterated time and time again throughout the document, the de facto constitution of the city. This is also a good thing because it means that in time of dire straits, when political courage is needed, it may be found in the stroke of a pen. As the popularly elected chief executive of a city of 1.5 million Americans, Philly’s mayor must have an acute sense of democratic will along with a deft understanding of practical policies and, most importantly, the limits and the scope of his power.

As Philadelphia mayor, Edward G. Rendell demonstrated this understanding expertly when he demanded reopening the city’s public pools and libraries on the weekend, the financial consequences or quibbling of City Council be damned. “When I became mayor,” Rendell told years ago, “2 of our 61 branch libraries were open on Saturdays.  So, working people weren’t able to take their kids to the library.  I forced the library to start using volunteers.”  At the conclusion of Rendell’s two terms as Mayor, all 61 branches of the library were open six days a week during the school year. Like the public libraries, Rendell also demanded the pools to be open.

After all, he was the Mayor.

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Mayor Nutter’s Public Park Smoking Ban Is Pointless Nanny-State Grandstanding


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter seems to be in the middle of an existential crisis. Now, normally this confrontation with life, the universe, and everything is perfectly natural and OK. That is, most men react to these crises with something harmless like impulse-buying a sports car.

The problem here, though, is that Nutter is taking at least 375,000 Philadelphians along for his ride into the “What’s the point?” abyss with his new executive order “banning” smoking in public parks.

Nutter’s the guy who callously slashed library funding by $8 million in 2008, eliminating 117 library jobs. Later, Nutter tearfully “corrected” his wrong by putting back a fraction ($2.5 million) of the original cut in his proposed budget this year. He also proposed the new property tax valuations, called the AVI. It’s arguably a necessary fix but nobody’s happy about it, particularly because the AVI seems at best complicated and at worst arbitrary. And, Nutter’s the guy currently presiding over a police force disproportionately arresting black people while seemingly ignoring white people violating those very same laws.

Basically, Nutter seems to be in the middle of an identity crisis because he sure as hell looks a lot like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg right now.

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