After the display of inhumanity (a stupid word, really, for something really just describing a frightening human capacity for favoring ideology over human life) — by gunmen who broke into the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and took the lives of 12, injuring many more — the whole day seemed underscored by the sickening notion, as we’d seen recently with the Sony Hacks, that comedic criticism is becoming more and more of a life-threatening undertaking. Atlantic writer Peter Beinart drew parallels between these recent instances of media-centric terrorism, while also addressing the fact that the antagonizing forces in both cases have not officially been identified. Over at Slate, there’s an article on the importance and evolution of the political cartoon in France. Celebrities such as Salman Rushdie and Tina Fey have also voiced their concerns on the state of free speech, as well as their vehemence about protecting it.
Dutch women’s rights activist and doctor Rebecca Gomperts, M.D., launched a program called Women on Waves in 2000, which cleverly functioned on a topographic loophole: abortions may be illegal in many countries, but in the international waters near them, you’re probably not going to find groups of sea lions caucusing on sexist legislation. As far as “law” is concerned, it’s fair game. Explains Buzzfeed, she gives abortions at sea using “World Health Organization-sanctioned protocols with pills.” Both she and documentarian Diana Whitten — who made the film Vessel following Gompert’s journey — gave illuminating interviews with Buzzfeed in anticipation of the film’s release.
With homosexuality legalized only 17 years ago in China, Geng Le — a former cop who launched the dating app Blued, which now boasts 15 million users — is a similarly inspiring risk-taker. In the 90’s, he was closeted, but got information on gay culture (and on gay sex) through Western websites. In an interview with Vice, he says, “It was my own secret and I didn’t want to share it with others. I used to think I was the only gay guy in the world, but since we’ve had the internet my mind has been changed a lot.” In 2012, he launched what would become the country’s most successful gay dating app, which has likewise changed the minds of a great deal of gay men regarding their visibility, as well as their ability to seek both the romance and sex they actually desire.
In, er, entirely unrelated news, here’s something about John Travolta! Details continue to trickle in regarding Ryan Murphy’s likely-to-be-distasteful American Crime Story. Last we heard, David Schwimmer would be starring as Robert Kardashian, O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney, in the first ACS (great, we’re already acronym-ing it) season, which focuses on the historic trial. Another attorney-named-Robert-character has also been cast, and from my intro, you probably guessed it: John Travolta will be playing Robert Shapiro, who, apart from O.J., has also represented Linda Lovelace, Johnny Carson and Eva Longoria. Interestingly, Shapiro is also a founder of Shoedazzle.com; knowing Murphy’s penchant for digression, I’m really hoping this is a subplot.