Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Phoebe discuss the plague of parental oversharing. What kind of privacy is owed to celebrities like Justin Bieber? Phoebe describes traveling to Japan, where it was impossible for her to “pass” as a native. Moving to the Isla Vista shooting, Conor argues that the media should deny notoriety to mass shooters. Phoebe complicates the narrative around #YesAllWomen, and wonders whether “rape culture” is a useful term. Conor and Phoebe critique the idea of “checking your privilege”—is this just a way for insanely privileged people to nitpick each others’ lives? Plus: Why Conor is accused of privilege when he criticizes drone warfare.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Mark discuss a North Carolina church that’s suing for the right to perform same-sex weddings. Does this case show that conservatives are hypocrites about religious freedom? Conor and Mark are both troubled by an Oregon case in which the state’s gay marriage ban is going undefended in court. Has Clippers owner Donald Sterling received due process? They discuss how condemning Sterling’s cartoonish racism lets us off the hook for more insidious forms of bias, like housing discrimination. Is there a downside to the strong American taboo against racism? Plus: Why same-sex marriage is not a slippery slope to polygamy.
On an epic edition of Friedersdorf, Conor and Mark debate issues arising from the case of the New Mexico photographer who refused to shoot a gay wedding. How much does motivation—hate, animus, or religious conviction—matter in these disputes? Conor reflects on his Catholic upbringing to discuss religious believers who think encouraging same-sex marriage is sinful. Should a gay photographer be legally compelled to shoot a traditional Catholic wedding? Conor and Mark debate how non-discrimination laws should work. Does the photographer have a First Amendment case? Mark challenges Conor with a hypothetical town where the restaurants refuse to serve gay people. Finally, are we heading toward a future with more or less conflict between gay rights and religious freedom?
On Friedersdorf, Conor and James kick things off by discussing Tom Scocca’s viral Gawker article defending snark and attacking smarm. They consider the perils of Internet fame for regular people. How will today’s kids come to view the difference between the online world and real life? Conor worries that the surveillance state is causing Americans to self-censor their communications. James extols the virtues of “view from somewhere” journalism. And they conclude by discussing millennials, the “passion economy,” and the dark side of geeking out.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Phoebe begin by talking about Edward Snowden’s recent request for clemency. They next examine the phenomenon of parental “oversharing.” Conor and Phoebe think jerk-shaming has gone too far—even though some Halloween costumes have been bizarrely offensive, it seems some Millennials just yearn to be outraged. What does the green juice craze reveal about our society? And finally, what does social privilege have to do with the drone debate?
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Jamelle discuss the controversy surrounding Rand Paul’s aid Jack Hunter, a libertarian writer with Confederate sympathies. Is it possible to sympathize with secession and not slavery? Jamelle grants that Paul wants a more diverse GOP, but says his neo-Confederate associations undermine this goal. He also wonders what Paul’s real convictions are, prompting Conor to compare Hunter to Jeremiah Wright. Jamelle points to Paul’s stance on the Voting Rights Act and the welfare state as evidence of unsavory racial attitudes. Conor suggests that Paul is being singled out for racism while other politicians get a pass on civil liberties violations.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Elizabeth consider how Bushwick, Brooklyn quickly went from post-apocalyptic wasteland to hipster paradise. They discuss the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix and how binge watching has changed our relationship with TV. They move on to a controversial essay by a woman who chooses not to use birth control, which leads to a consideration of new ways that non-fiction writers can tell stories. Is Mark Bittman wrong about eating meat? And is a Northwestern student wrong to refuse to sing a song with lyrics by Walt Whitman?
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Freddie begin by discussing the Boston marathon bombing, and critiques of how the media covered it. Freddie recommends that the US stop its drone program in the name of national security. Conor sketches the evolution of journalism in digital media. After discussing Matthew Yglesias’s controversial piece on the economics of the deadly Bangladeshi factory collapse, they conclude with a spirited debate about the proper way to be angry on the Internet.
On Friedersdorf, the conversation kicks off with a discussion of The Slurve, Michael’s new subscription-only newsletter about baseball. Is the era of the free/open web over? Michael and Conor agree that it’s reassuring for journalists to control a portion of their income. Michael argues that baseball itself is in a golden age, and they share their favorite baseball memories. They next consider the lobster-catching lobster claw, and what it tells us about humanity. They close with a discussion of the harmful effects of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims.
On Friedersdorf, Mark and Conor kick things off by discussing the Pope’s resignation and how American Catholics are processing it. Can the Church change the internal culture that enabled the sex abuse cover-up? They next explore this question: Is it possible to be an NFL star and a good Christian? And is the idea that sports build character just a myth? Mark explains why he wants to develop the habit of occasionally smoking pot. And Conor argues that in the war on terror, Americans ought to show more courage.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Freddie kick things off by discussing the declining share of national income that accrues to labor. Should we fear or welcome a future where automation and artificial intelligence replace much of the work done by humans? They discuss Chris Hayes’s recent book, Twilight of the Elites. How responsible are you for your outcome in life? Conor and Freddie debate the idea of “workplace liberty,” and who should decide when an employee gets a bathroom break. Conor asks Freddie whether he sees a conflict between the goals of liberalizing immigration and minimizing inequality. They conclude by arguing that liberals have failed to adequately challenge the errors of the Obama administration.
On Friedersdorf, James and Conor kick things off by discussing Chuck Hagel’s nomination. James ponders the fairness of calling his foreign policy views un-American, and Conor argues such views have a long history in this country. On domestic matters, Conor asks how pessimistic James is about the future of conservatism. Is Glenn Beck, rather than Fox News, pointing toward a viable future? Conor looks at California to explain why he isn’t a Democrat. James examines the intersection of guns, fear, and politics, and they focus on personal improvements in local communities as an alternative to national legislation.