From the Left



Three Stages of Violence: Hollywood, Washington, Ukraine

Jamie Stiehm on

Hollywood. Washington. Ukraine.

Violence is breaking out all over, in places we thought we'd never see it: on the Academy Awards stage, in the Capitol and a war in Europe.

Are these ugly events somehow connected?

Let's take the Academy scene first. Will Smith struck Chris Rock across the face. The scene seemed out of a movie. In an earlier era, there would have been a duel when the next day dawned.

Alexander Hamilton got caught in the gentlemen's "honor" code in 1804, when he lost his life in a duel for trash-talking Aaron Burr.

Rock made a cruel jest from the stage, mocking Jada Pinkett Smith's painful medical condition that caused her hair loss. Her face contorted and, in a split second, her actor husband rushed Rock in a rage and hit him hard.


Alopecia is no joke, as a congresswoman of color, Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., revealed. A traumatic and public illness, it feels like losing a part of you.

Still, Smith's violence and cursing upstaged everything in the lackluster Oscars show. He wept as he won the Best Actor award, again in a scene that seemed scripted, hard to watch.

The assault was unacceptable, considered a crime. But insulting and humiliating a woman in public, in front of millions, is just a misdemeanor -- I know, right?

Chivalry is not dead, encoded in our genes. Smith acted from an ancient desire to defend his wife. Even if understandable, his scenes were way over the line in our times.


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