Jon Stewart and the Burden of History

A profile of the comedian who’s “not so funny anymore”:

Jon Stewart has made a career of avoiding "Whooo" humor. He has flattered the prejudices of his audience, but he has always been funny, and he has always made them laugh. At the Juan Williams taping, however, at least half of Stewart's jokes elicited the sound of Whooo! instead of the sound of laughter. He's been able to concentrate his comedy into a kind of shorthand — a pause, or a raised eyebrow, is often all that is necessary now — but a stranger not cued to laugh could be forgiven for not laughing, indeed for thinking that what was going on in front of him was not comedy at all but rather high-toned journalism with a sense of humor. Which might be how Jon Stewart wants it by now.

The Rapist Says He's Sorry

A profile of a serial sex offender:

This is a story about how hard it is to be good—or, rather, how hard it is to be good once you’ve been bad; how hard it is to be fixed once you’ve been broken; how hard it is to be straight once you’ve been bent. It is about a scary man who is trying very hard not to be scary anymore and yet who still manages to scare not only the people who have good reason to be afraid of him but even occasionally himself. It is about sex, and how little we know about its mysteries; about the human heart, and how futilely we have responded—with silence, with therapy, with the law and even with the sacred Constitution—to its dark challenge. It is about what happens when we, as a society, no longer trust our futile responses and admit that we have no idea what to do with a guy like Mitchell Gaff.

The Abortionist

Doc moves quickly. He takes off his windbreaker, tosses his leather bag on the counter and unzips it. He pulls out a slate-blue polyester vest, V-necked, with six buttons. He raises his arms and jumps into it and then says, with an air of deep satisfaction, "Aah." Doc is proud of his bulletproof vest.


“What’s it like to be kidnapped and held for ransom, not as a political prisoner but as an economic one? What’s it like to live in the Ecuadoran jungle for 141 days? What’s it like not to sleep, to be bound in chains, to have your body invaded by living things, to waste away to the point of death?…What’s it like? This is what it’s like.”