An SNL Skit Raises a Troubling Question

Covid? What Covid?

By Richard Goldstein

It’s been a rough time for Saturday Night Live. The pandemic has made being funny very hard. There’s only so much juice you can wring from the carcass of Donald Trump, and only so many laughs you can get out of Joe Biden’s stumbles. Wokeness has banished jokes at the expense of women, queers, and transpeople, which were once a staple of SNL. Sex scandals abound, but they won’t fill a 90-minute slot. So, what’s a show that dines on being hip to do? …


The Unintended Consequences of Cracking Down

By Richard Goldstein

Someone defaced this mural by turning Bernie Sanders into Pepe the Frog. The artist wants the vandal to be charged with a hate crime.

It was shocking. Scary. Surreal. A revelation that democracy is fragile. We look back on the tolerance of extremist views with the regret of a smoker who has just received a diagnosis of lung cancer. How can we cut out the malignancy before it spreads further?

The cancer metaphor is tempting, but this situation is not a disease. It’s the murderous manifestation of a political tendency that has material as well as symbolic roots. It’s a thoroughly American, racist backlash, but some version of it is going on across the Western world. It’s truly threatening, but so is the prospect…


THE DEATH TOLL AMONG THE ELDERLY IS NOT JUST A MEDICAL FACT. IT IS ALSO A RESULT OF BIGOTRY.

BY RICHARD GOLDSTEIN

Young people are becoming infected with the coronavirus at an alarming rate, but the disease it causes remains primarily a killer of the aged. Eighty percent of the deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in people over 65. Every decision about preventing and treating this virus is fateful for the old. The narrative that “we’re all in this together” ignores the elevated risk for minorities and those with underlying health problems, but the greatest predictor of who will die is age. Even among people of color, most of those who perish in this pandemic are old.

Yet, there…


BY RICHARD GOLDSTEIN

THE MASSIVE DEATH TOLL AMONG SENIORS IS NOT JUST A MEDICAL FACT. IT IS ALSO THE RESULT OF BIGOTRY

Young people are becoming infected with the coronavirus at an alarming rate, but the disease it causes remains primarily a killer of the aged. Eighty percent of the deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in people over 65. Every decision about preventing and treating this virus is fateful for the old. The narrative that “we’re all in this together” ignores the elevated risk for minorities and those with underlying health problems, but the greatest predictor of who will die…


The Brave Reporting of JoAnn Wypijewski

By Richard Goldstein

The most important quality in a social critic is the ability to question an orthodoxy that advances under the banner of truth and justice. The more progressive the consensus seems, the more it needs a trenchant critique. And when sex is involved, the intricacies are so hard to untangle that any morality which does not allow for complexity is bound to sow cruelty. We saw this in the 1950s, when a sexual code considered decent had the actual effect of repressing the rights of millions: cruising queers, horny teens, adulterers (guilty of a crime in many states), and sluts (banished…


Queering the Censorship Debate

Tom Cotton and his bestie.

By Richard Goldstein

They called it “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” A multiracial group of prominent artists and intellectuals — 153 of them — signed it. “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted,” the letter read. While the signatories hailed the current wave of protests, they also worried about “an overcorrection that stifles the principles we stand for.” Critics pounced; one of them called the letter “self-important drivel,” but The New York Times covered it on page one earlier this week. It was…


A New Youth Culture Takes the Political Stage

By Richard Goldstein

Yes, it’s scary. The endless wail of police sirens through the night. The ongoing rumble of helicopters in the sky. The aroma of metal burning, the gleam of shattered glass in lamppost light, the chorus of rage coming from every direction. It’s horrible to live in a riot zone — and now it’s risky, not just microbally, but politically, because no one knows which side these events will ultimately benefit. Very scary. But necessary. Because the cities under greatest siege are led by liberals, and they haven’t stopped the…


By Richard Goldstein

Even after the corona crisis is over, I will never stop feeling old. That’s what I’ve learned from this virus. Old is not wise. Not just archaic. It is susceptible, assailable, penetrable — vulnerable.

Once I would have seen my vulnerability as referring to romantic disappointment or professional attack. But I have been through both, and they felt nothing like this. Once I would have thought of death as a product of AIDS, and my fears would have been amplified by the guilt that underlay my most primal feelings about gay sex. Now it is about loss…


by Richard Goldstein

Now comes Hillary Clinton, adding gravy to Elizabeth Warren’s beef with Bernie Sanders by suggesting that he has a pattern of disparaging female opponents. One of them, former Vermont governor Madelyn Kunin, says Sanders called himself a better feminist then she and “urged people not to vote for me just because I was a woman.” Ouch! On the other hand, NOW has a history of endorsing men over women who don’t support their issues, and Sanders’ record has been good enough to earn him a 100 percent rating from the group. So, should you cast your ballot…


By Richard Goldstein

I’m not going to vote for Pete Buttigieg. Bernie Sanders is more my style, ideologically and temperamentally. But I’m proud of Mayor Pete.

I’m proud that a gay man can be open about his marriage to a man and still get voters to take him seriously. I’m proud that an ambitious politician can rise in the wake of the LGBTQ movement’s success. Gay people have a potential for leadership that only stereotypes and subterfuge have repressed. Buttigieg’s military career, his embrace of both his sexuality and his faith, and his ability to make people feel that they…

richard goldstein

I am the former executive editor of The Village Voice, the author of six books, and a professor at New York University’s Tisch College of the Arts.

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