Social issues

How Activists Create Change

How do activists create change? Last June, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University asked the question, “How does activism drive corporate change?” While their research focuses on activism’s impact on corporate management, most of their insights also apply to political activism. Sometimes the impact is direct: A shareholder group filed a resolution urging McDonald’s to replace...

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What was the perpetrator thinking?

In the wake of Charleston: part 1 of 4 This week and next, we will take a look at the aftermath of the Charleston shootings in a four-part series. Readers will receive an extra e-mail this Tuesday and next. Today’s topic is on the psychology of hate crime. Future posts will look at what racism means, the call for gun controls that frequently follow mass shootings, and the Confederate flag. Why...

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What are the limits on free speech?

Part 2 of 2 Last week, I wrote about the problems of using the law to limit free speech. There is another way to contain discussion within acceptable boundaries, which I will call social pressure. Social pressure is an informal agreement that certain subjects should be outside the range of open conversation. Like the law, social pressure can be abused; but our best hope of maintaining speech...

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The dark side of Christmas

Christmas is a beautiful season, in both its religious and secular manifestations. We focus on Mary, Joseph, and the Baby in the manger, on the angels singing Gloria, the shepherds and wise men; but these are only part of the Christmas story. If we confine our telling of the Christmas story to what we learned as children, we risk losing much of its power. What does the Christmas story have to do...

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Unionize college football players?

It’s college football season again, with plenty of exciting action — both on and off the field. Last spring, Northwestern University’s players threatened to form a union to counter a system they viewed as a money-making machine for everyone except the players. The players wanted the university to pay for sports-related medical bills, retain their scholarships when they are injured, and...

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