It’s hard to write a story the night before the last time you see someone so important to you, but when you know what you want to say, you know. And I also knew that when my grandpa died there’s no way I’d be able to coherently write.

But I’d be devastated if I couldn’t tell my grandpa’s story, so I wrote this the night before I last saw him, knowing I’d publish it when he passed. …


Tonight, the State of Texas executed a “killer.”

There is no question that, when he was 18 years old, Billy Wardlow killed an 82-year-old man while trying to steal his car. This made Mr. Wardlow a killer, according to the State of Texas, and therefore, the State claims, he should die.

But now that Wardlow has been executed, this world has by the State of Texas’s own definition a few more killers on its hands. It has the unnamed person who pumped poison into Billy Wardlow’s veins for 34 minutes until he died. It has Gwendolyn Vindell, the attorney in…


When I tell people that I’m a prison abolitionist, they’re often taken aback.

“Wait, you actually don’t think there should be prisons?”

I’ve gotten this response from just about everyone I’ve talked to about the issue, and when I respond that I really don’t think prisons should exist, I’m asked why. It’s usually a difficult question to answer in the moment, so I respond in the most succinct, yet accurate, way I can:

“I don’t think humans should be in cages, and even beyond that moral issue, evidence has shown that incarceration is not an effective way to deal with…


Today, the United States Supreme Court voted 5–4 to uphold Donald Trump’s “travel ban,” which bans travelers from majority Muslim countries.

If you know me at all, you already know I think this is a terrible decision. I think the fundamental purpose of the Constitution — of any constitution — is to protect against tyranny of the majority, particularly against “discrete and insular minorities,” as the Supreme Court put it in 1938. U.S. v. Carolene Products, 304 U.S. 144, 152 n.4 (1938) (citing cases like this because Medium doesn’t allow footnotes and I brought the receipts). Unlike many of my…


Northwestern University’s athletic department has always gone out of its way to suck up to Chicago media, because as a school with little athletics tradition and a small fan base, it has to if it wants to be noticed.

As one sports information official told me when I ran Inside NU, even if they hated my coverage, they couldn’t really get rid of me.

Now, Northwestern has turned its attention to Barstool Sports, misogynistic website that caters to immature, bro-y fans.

Barstool’s misogynistic, sexist, and anti-Semitic antics are well-established. I won’t run through an exhaustive list, because I have…


Monday is Martin Luther King Day, which means lots of people who vehemently oppose Black Lives Matter, school desegregation, race-conscious policies and movements against police brutality will tweet the “I have a dream” quote and tell you they idolize Martin Luther King.

Of course, if you stand against everything but the very baseline of what King stood for, it’s disingenuous to try to score “I-believe-in-equality” political points on this day of remembrance. But thanks to the white-washed version of MLK that we learn in schools, we allow people who oppose race-conscious policies to pretend they’re fervent MLK supporters.

On this…


The most egregious police shooting video in recent history was released this week, just after the shooter—Arizona police officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford—was acquitted of second-degree murder.

The video shows Daniel Shaver, a white, unarmed man, walk out of a hotel room, confused, with his hands up. He got onto the ground as instructed, crawled on the floor, and begged through tears for the police not to shoot him. As Brailsford screamed instructions, threatening to kill Shaver if he made one wrong move, Shaver did the best he could to comply.

At one point, perhaps out of instinct, Shaver—still crawling, with…


Earlier this month, Texas governor Greg Abbott went on another one of his diatribes about liberalism in universities, safe spaces and the typical nonsense you get from a guy whose main mission is convincing baby boomers from Amarillo that white people with traditional values need to save American culture from an increasingly multicultural world.

As a substitute for multiculturalism, knowing that might too closely tie him to the Steve Bannons of the world, Abbott chose to instead use liberalism/conservatism as a placeholder.

Given his policy agenda, and the fact that his Public Enemy №1 is currently a free-market conservative…


After Donald Trump’s tirade of a speech calling for NFL owners to fire players like “son of a bitch” Colin Kaepernick who kneel for the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice, most NFL owners did the bare minimum and released statements about Trump’s comments.

Some addressed Trump’s comments directly, while some—hey Bears—only vaguely alluded to the comments. Most came from the same template: “America is great because you can peacefully protest, and we have to be less divisive.”

The point about divisiveness was nearly universally praised, because it is a very easy point to make and a…


In a stunning moment of cowardice, Harvard announced early Friday morning that it would be disinviting Chelsea Manning to a fellowship at the school, ostensibly because the CIA complained about it.

Manning was originally invited to be a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, but the school’s dean wrote that, “I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility.”

Nothing about Manning’s invitation was a major issue beyond the typical political debate—hell, Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski are also Harvard fellows—until the CIA got mad. Former acting and deputy…

Kevin Trahan

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