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November 2018 posts

Sexual Predation

By Jonathan B. Wight

Don Giovanni, or The Rake Punished, is Mozart’s beloved Italian opera, premiered in 1787 in Prague.  Watching the show is like watching a train wreck unfold.

Giovanni, a nobleman, is an unrepentant murderer, rapist, a lothario who uses charm and wit—and where necessary force—to get his way with women.  His conquests number over one thousand, recorded dutifully in his servant’s little black book.

The anguished story of Donna Anna, who is nearly raped in the opening scene (off stage), sounds a lot like the testimony we heard recently in Senate hearings.  She has a hard time being believed, because Giovanni is a nobleman, and a gentleman wouldn’t do that sort of thing, would he?  Life imitates art, as they say.  Or perhaps art captures something essential about the human condition. 

In Giovanni’s case, his crimes eventually catch up with him, although it is only by the intervention of the murder victim’s spirit that justice prevails in the end.

Here on earth spirits rarely intervene, and crimes against women and humanity often go unpunished, and the perpetrators sail on to other conquests. 

Don Giovanni can be used to teach students about date rape and other male-female issues.  See, for example, Liane Curtis, “The Sexual Politics of Teaching Mozart's Don Giovanni.” NWSA Journal 12, no. 1 (2000): 119-42. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4316712.  Other operas can perform a similar role (see the use of Lady Macbeth here). 

Stinking to High Heaven

By Jonathan B. Wight

No one ever confused President Trump with being a free market advocate.  He’s about deals, not principles.  Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, is likewise a politician.  And politicians are about making deals that provide short term gains, regardless of the long term consequences for constituents. 

The New Yorker has a depressing exposé  about how Walker and Trump basically gave away the store in their desire to attract FoxConn to Wisconsin to build a factory. 

The state giveaway amounts to $4.5 billion, or between $220,000 to $1 million per job created, depending on the number of jobs ultimately secured. 

Even worse, the deal required the town of Mt. Pleasant to abuse eminent domain, claiming that some brand new homes were in fact “blighted,” as an excuse to tear them down in contravention of state law.  That is abuse of political power, pure and simple.

Scott Pruitt at the EPA fell into line to grant air pollution exceptions to FoxConn. 

All of this reeks to high heaven. 

Go to the polls and vote please!