The Week in Review
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16 This week kicks off in the collective imagination of the culture, where, over the past decade and a half, the perception of R. Kelly has somehow morphed to the point where the controversial R&B singer is a valuable artist with some regrettable misdeeds in his past. (Powering this forgiving perception: one great song, several dozen ridiculous chapters of an insanely ambitious video soap opera, and general societal attention-deficit disorder.) But as writer Jessica Hopper bracingly reminds us in the Village Voice today, the "misdeeds" in Kelly's past aren't of the sort that decent citizens typically overlook. Central to Hopper's thesis: Jim DeRogatis, the esteemed music journalist who, at the end of last century, unwittingly found himself cast in the role of R. Kelly's Great Accuser. "It has been nearly 15 years since music journalist Jim DeRogatis caught the story that has since defined his career, one that he wishes didn't exist: R. Kelly's sexual predation on teenage girls," writes Hopper. "DeRogatis, at that time the pop-music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, was anonymously delivered the first of two videos he would receive depicting the pop star engaging in sexual acts with underage girls." From this intro, Hopper leads a wide-ranging interview with DeRogatis, who was back in the thick of the R. Kelly story this summer, when Pitchfork, the typically progressive music website, hired R. Kelly to headline its 2013 music festival. After critiquing Pitchfork and its audience for essentially endorsing a man he calls "a monster," DeRogatis found himself swimming in positive-to-glowing reviews of R. Kelly's latest album, from media outlets that seemed to have entirely forgiven Kelly after he was acquitted of charges brought by just one of his accusers. But as DeRogatis tells Hopper, the vast sordid story remains available for the world to see, in the public records of the dozens of lawsuits brought against R. Kelly that Kelly ultimately settled. "We had these lawsuits that were explosive, and we didn't understand why nobody had reported them," DeRogatis tells Hopper. "They were stomach-churning. The one young woman, who had been 14 or 15 when R. Kelly began a relationship with her, detailed in great length, in her affidavits, a sexual relationship... He would go to her sophomore class and hook up with girls afterward and have sex with them. Sometimes buy them a pair of sneakers. Sometimes just letting them hang out in his presence in the recording studio. She detailed the sexual relationship... It lasted about one and a half to two years, and then he dumped her and she slit her wrists, tried to kill herself... Dozens of girls—not one, not two, dozens—with harrowing lawsuits. The videotapes—and not just one videotape, numerous videotapes. And not Tommy Lee/Pam Anderson, Kardashian fun video. You watch the video for which he was indicted, and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him 'Daddy.' He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his 'gift.' It's a rape that you're watching. So we're not talking about rock-star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We're talking about predatory behavior... The saddest fact I've learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: They are 'bitches, hos, and gold-diggers,' plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of. Mark Anthony Neal, the African American scholar, makes this point: One white girl in Winnetka, and the story would have been different. No, it was young black girls, and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn't have a chance."
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17 In lighter news, the week continues in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where this morning nearly a dozen police cruisers raced with sirens screaming to the Bagel King restaurant, on reports that a police officer had been shot. "Inside, [Bridgeport Officer Juan] Santiago was bleeding from the leg," reports the CT Post. "Shards of glass from the shattered window lay on the ground..." But that enticing ellipses leads nowhere but up Officer Santiago's butt. "Santiago was sitting at a table with Detective Juan Gonzalez [when] Gonzalez placed a borrowed .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol atop the table," reports the Post. "Santiago apparently picked up the gun, cocked it and pulled the trigger as it was pointing toward the floor. The bullet ricocheted upward, piercing Santiago's leg before shattering a nearby window." Having fired a gun in a crowded restaurant and injured only himself, the 55-year-old Officer Santiago faces neither criminal charges nor professional censure, which has rightly pissed people off. "It's just another example of police covering for police," said James Griffin, the city's former veterans' affairs administrator, to the Post. "Anybody other than a cop would be in big, big trouble."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 Speaking of newsworthy doofuses, the week continues with the Northwest's own Ken Hutcherson, the former-linebacker-turned-Christian-pastor-turned-antigay-crusader, who today passed away at age 61 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Undoubtedly beloved by his family, friends, and church, Pastor Hutcherson was, unfortunately, a bigoted man and a lousy Christian, so driven to fetishize one questionable biblical prohibition that he was blinded to the key teachings of Jesus. Condolences to Hutch's loved ones, and may God have mercy on his soul.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19 Speaking of pillars of religious bigotry being felled, the week continues in the Pacific Northwest, where the dismissal of a gay vice principal from a Catholic high school today led to mass student protests. At the center of the saga: Mark Zmuda, the vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School, who was dismissed after school administrators learned of his same-sex marriage. "The dismissal of the vice principal was based on the Archdiocese of Seattle's authority over a Catholic school," wrote Eastside Catholic principal Polly Skinner in an e-mail to an Eastside graduate, obtained by KIRO. "We are saddened and as a Catholic school, bound by Catholic teaching regarding same-sex marriage." Nevertheless, the kids weren't having it, with students at North Seattle's Bishop Blanchet High School and Capitol Hill's Seattle Prep joining Eastside Catholic students in protesting Zmuda's departure. Thank you, Catholic schoolkids of the 21st century.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20 The week continues with the expansion of yesterday's hubbub, with Equal Rights Washington leading a peaceful demonstration in support of Mark Zmuda in front of the office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21 Nothing happened today, unless you count the birthdays of revolutionary yeller Paul Revere (born on this day in 1734), disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno (1926), talk-show pioneer Phil Donahue (1935), legendary actor and activist Jane Fonda (1937), kooky musician Frank Zappa (1940), highest-grossing-actor-of-all-time Samuel L. Jackson (1948), and a bunch of other people who never famously enabled a pedophile, opened the door for Oprah, or rode a horse at night while hollering.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22 Nothing happened today.