Readers Respond to Slate’s Coverage of Iran, the NSA, and the Knockout Game.

How the rest of the web is reading Slate.
Nov. 30 2013 11:32 AM

“Potshots Are Easier than Leading”

What the Web thought of our take on the Iran deal.

The Iranian nuclear deal should be hailed as a diplomatic triumph, writes Fred Kaplan (“We Have a Deal With Iran. A Good One: It's everything Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva,” Nov. 24). In an article analyzing the deal, The Week cited Kaplan’s piece as an exemplary argument in favor of the interim agreement. Reza Fakhari (@RezaFakhari1), a professor of international politics at CUNY, tweeted Kpalan’s piece and commented. “A Watershed agreement, more consequential than any past SALT ones!!” Greg Sargent of the Plum Line (@ThePlumLineGS), tweeted, ”Good, persuasive piece from @fmkaplan on why Iran deal is a good one.” Kaplan took some heat on Twitter for arguing that it’s unreasonable to object to the interim deal on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough toward a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program or its ability to enrich uranium. “Trying to craft a deal that ensures Iran can never build a nuke is ‘unreasonable.’ Good to know.” tweeted Sonny Bunch, managing editor of the Free Beacon (@SonnyBunch). Kaplan’s claim that Republicans would be “hailing the diplomatic prowess” of President George W. Bush had he brokered such an arrangement also drew comment. Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona (@RepRaulGrijalva) tweeted, “if Bush had done #Iran nuclear treaty, #GOP would support it 100%. Potshots are easier than leading.

Taking issue with assertions by the conservative media that the “knockout game” has reached epidemic proportions, Emma Roller points out that there’s no empirical data to support the conclusion the game’ is widespread or played exclusively by black youths, writes Roller (“Sorry, Right-Wing Media: The ‘Knockout Game’ Trend is a Myth,” Nov. 25. , Commentary Editor John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) discredited the piece as reflexively contrarian, tweeting, “#slatepitches hits bottom: It's a myth people are getting punched in the head for no reason, because racism.” Slate reader Michael Bronson pointed to the Philadelphia mayor’s condemnation of the knockout game (which came after Roller’s piece ran) as evidence that the criminal sport had reached epidemic levels in some areas. “It's definitely trending in a few major cities,” he writes, “so much so that Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia called a news conference to voice his concern about stopping it in his city.” Others embraced Roller’s debunking. Business Insider’s Adam Taylor writes, “Over at Slate, Emma Roller makes a convincing argument that similar incidents have occurred for years, and that recent coverage of the stories seems to be driven more by racial outrage than the events themselves.” And USA Today adds, “It also refutes the suggestion by some news organizations that some of the attacks have been racially motivated.

Someone’s metadata can reveal loads of personal info about their life, Dahlia Lithwick and Steve Vladeck write (Taking the “Meh” out of Metadata: How the government can discover your health problems, political beliefs, and religious practices using just your metadata,” Nov. 22). What’s more, the authors point out, there’s currently no law on the books that prevents the government from mashing disparate strands of metadata into a revealing composite sketch. Italian journalist Carola Frediani (@carolafrediani) tweeted in response to the piece, “This is crucial > The more data the gov't collects, the more the distinction btw metadata & actual content disappears.” Slate article, Temple mathematics professor John Allen Paulos (@JohnAllenPaulos) took to Twitter to note, “Metadata is Very revealing, especially when amalgamated by the NSA.” Readers disagreed about the public policy implications of such technology. Twitter user 4thAmendment (@amendment4) decried the metadata-as-virtual-content capability, saying it explains “How the government can discover everything about you using just #metadata.” 

John Kruzel is a Slate contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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