W&M faculty in the media this month
Following are selected examples of William & Mary faculty and staff members in the media. - Ed.
High court overturns former Virginia governor’s conviction
In a June 27 Associated Press article, Jeffrey Bellin, Cable Research Professor of Law at William & Mary, discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the sentence of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The article states that the Supreme Court overturned the bribery conviction of McDonnell in a judgment that could make it tougher for prosecutors to generate corruption charges against elected officials.
The court voted to limit the scope of law that prohibits politicians from taking gifts in exchange for favors or “official acts” and the McDonnell case was sent back to lower courts for review.
McDonnell stated that he never took “official action” on behalf of Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams or forced any other state officials to do the same.
However, prosecutors insisted that McDonnell did and was fully aware that he would take official action to help Williams in the future.
Some experts felt that the decision may not be a significant hindrance to future corruption cases.
“I don’t think there are many public corruption prosecutions based on just a meeting,” said Bellin. “In the typical federal corruption case, the government is always alleging that there is more going on than just a meeting.”
Va. politicians react to Brexit's impact
In a June 24 Richmond Times-Dispatch article, Clay Clemens, professor of government at William & Mary, discussed Britain’s vote on leaving the European Union (EU).
The article states that the U.S. economy and relationship with Great Britain will likely remain strong notwithstanding their decision to leave the European Union. In addition, the article states that Britain’s vote to leave the EU was a rejection of immigration, globalization and political elites.
Virginia politicians such as Mark R. Warner, D-Va., noted that the United States respects Britain’s choice for leaving and will stand by one of the nation’s closet allies.
But Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th, cautioned that the historic vote would affect future U.S. elections.
Clemens also noted that there are parallels between Great Britain’s vote and the current U.S. political campaign for president.
“All those kinds of themes could come right out of a (Donald) Trump campaign,” said Clemens.
American lawmakers do expect volatility in global economic markets but they do feel that our economy is strong enough to recover to any immediate effects.
“Our historically special relationship” will remain, said Clemens. But we will need “to pay attention to both sides of the Channel more so than we do now” because the U.S. has needed U.K. membership as a point to broader EU markets.
Worshipping alone: Studies find divorce retains its sting in faith communities
In a June 10 Huffington Post article, Kathleen Jenkins, associate professor and chair of the sociology department at William & Mary shared her opinion on divorce in communities of faith.
According to the Post, shame surrounding divorce remains a foundation of distress for believers. But studies have found that there are very few ministries or organizations within various faiths for people recovering from unsuccessful marriages.
One study found that out of 26 congregations in the state of Indiana, only three of them had post-divorce counseling.
A separate study based its findings on 11 divorced Catholic women and men in the country of Slovenia. It noted that each participant reported feelings of rejection, loneliness, rejection, and unworthiness.
What helped these individuals recover through this period of their lives was a close personal relationship with a God they believed cared about them the article said.
The article also stated that access to support systems like friendships and being part of a community was missing
Another study of 41 individuals across six faith traditions found even as divorced individuals turned to comforting rituals and worship services to ease their pain they experienced a marked sense of aloneness, resulting from individual shame and congregational silence.
Jenkins had this to say about the different aspects of the studies:
“One might expect that I would ﬁnd heightened aloneness and silence in conservative congregations, where heterosexual marriage is highly valued and divorce openly discouraged, but lingering shame and silence around divorce was present for respondents in liberal congregations as well,” she said. “The persistence of marriage and life partnerships as cultural ideals shaped feelings of shame for divorced congregants and fueled silence around discussion of divorce across religious traditions.”
A gorilla is killed, and our parent-shaming culture springs to life
In a June 2 article on NPR, W&M Chancellor Professor of Anthropology Barbara J. King, discussed the effects that the death of a gorilla had on the world.
Worldwide reaction continues in the aftermath of an incident at the Cincinnati Zoo in which a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe was shot to death by zoo personnel.
“Events unfolded quickly after a 3-year-old boy remarked (according to witnesses) that he wanted to go into the gorilla habitat, then crawled through protective barriers and fell into that enclosure. Harambe, in an understandably agitated state and aroused further by the shouts of zoo visitors, held the child and then dragged him through the waters in a moat. The gorilla was killed because he was thought to have put the child's life at risk.”
King noted that people from around the world blamed the child’s parents for this tragedy.
“On Facebook, I've also read opinions that the bullets should have been aimed not at Harambe, but at the parents and the child instead, and that the mother should be sterilized,” she said.
Online petitions went out focusing on “parental negligence.” At the time of this NPR article, there were more than 430,000 signatures.
“The shaming behavior we're witnessing toward this mother is a peculiar kind of mob mentality,” said King. “In the introduction to a new collection of essays, American Shame: Stigma and the Body Politic, editor and professor of languages and literature Myra Mendible describes the media- and social-media-based ‘bonding ritual’ that in our society today "fills in for the spectacles that once were town square stocks and pillories.’”
King also debated the notion of “blaming’’ who’s responsible in another interview.
“Some of the shaming is aimed not at the mother, but instead at the individuals at Cincinnati Zoo who made the call for a ‘kill shot’ instead of a tranquilizer shot,” said King. “I tried in that conversation to steer us away from a discourse of shaming to one that looks at hard questions about confining sentient animals to zoos in the first place.”