As many of us are aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Despite the relative longevity of this particular disease awareness campaign, I remain intrigued by the story behind the origin of the Susan G. Komen foundation, one wherein Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, described her desire to start a foundation to raise awareness about breast cancer at a time (the early 1980s) when the diagnosis was still surrounded with secrecy and stigma.
One reason for my ongoing interest is that I wonder if the stigma surrounding breast cancer has been lifted or if it has merely changed. It is true that we are now able to openly discuss breast cancer in a way we never did before, and it is also true that much more money goes to breast cancer research now than in past decades. Yet if stigmas are nothing more than public attitudes that create social liabilities for those who bear them, then perhaps something more is going on. Continue reading “Save the ‘Nads! (And Other Things We Do Not Say)”
As someone who lives only a few hours from their Topeka, Kansas headquarters, I have twice seen Westboro Baptist Church protesters in action. The group is probably best known for their ‘God Hates Fags’ signs posted visibly at public events. Their theology — as one might guess — centers on the idea that America is a cursed nation because it has tolerated homosexuality, a boundary breach that inexplicably spills over into a variety of other social venues that they also criticize. The first time I saw them was four or five years ago when they lined the streets surrounding a large high school near my home; they were there in response to the student body’s election of an openly gay prom king. The second time was just a couple of years later, at a Bon Jovi concert, wherein the throngs of concert go-ers were told in no uncertain terms about what the conditions of their collective afterlife will be like. Continue reading “God Hates Procedural Crime Dramas: The Politics of Religion, Denigration, and Humor”