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Muhammad Ali, Brock Turner, and the First Woman Nominee

Past Present Episode 38

On this week’s episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia debate the legacy of Muhammad Ali, the aftermath of the Brock Turner trial, and America’s first woman nominated to the presidency by a major party.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

  • The sentencing of Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of raping a woman, the just six months in jail has provoked tremendous outrage. Neil argued the case had generated so much response because of the powerful letter the victim read in the courtroom to her attacker and the entitled and appalling letter Brock’s father sent to the judge. Natalia commented on Stanford’s influence in the culture and politics of the Bay Area as relevant to the case, but also noted the school’s public statement on the crime. Niki argued the history of victim impact statements raised important questions about how we think about the law, emotions, and fairness in these cases. Neil observed the Supreme Court had taken conflicting views on victim impact statements, banning them in 1987 and then overturning that ruling in 1991. Niki saw the rise of victim impact statements as a response to the legal decisions of the 1960s that extended greater rights to the accused, including Gideon v. Wainright (1963) which required states to provide counsel in criminal cases to defendants who cannot pay for an attorney and Miranda v. Arizona (1966) which established Miranda rights. Natalia thought it was important to understand the Stanford case in the context of sexual violence cases, and recommended Estelle Freedman’s book Redefining Rape. Natalia also shared Freedman’s recent op-ed in the New York Times that showed how feminists used expanding legal rights for women to challenge judges who gave lenient sentencing in rape cases, a relevant historical context for understanding the movement to recall Aaron Persky, the judge in Brock Turner’s case.
  • Hillary Clinton made history last week when she became the first woman to capture the presidential nomination of a major political party. Niki situated Clinton’s political career within a long history of American women and politics, starting with Abigail Adams’s 1776 letter that instructed her husband to “remember the ladies” as he worked to establish the new nation. Natalia cited Rebecca Traister’s recent New York magazine profile of Clintonwhich recounted a lifetime of overcoming gender barriers. Neil found Clinton’s victory speech remarkable for how much it focused on the history-making nature of her candidacy, something the campaign has generally downplayed in 2016.

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

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Nicole Hemmer

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