Columnist: Leonard Pitts

Mar. 17, 2014 @ 08:38 AM

Justin Bieber is a jerk, and it's your fault

It's your fault Justin Bieber is a jerk.

That's the contention of attorney Roy Black, who is defending the 20-year-old singer on a DUI charge stemming from a Jan. 23 arrest in Miami Beach.


Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:17 PM

A pointed comment on guns

A few words about Nathan Entingh's hand gun.

Meaning, you should understand, not a gun you hold in your hand, but rather, the hand itself, thumb cocked and index finger extended to resemble a pistol. One afternoon late last month, Entingh, who goes to school in Columbus, Ohio, was goofing off in science class when he raised such a "hand gun," pointed it at another kid's head, and said, "Boom." Not a good thing to do and Entingh, who is 10, should certainly have been reprimanded. Instead, he was suspended for three days. His father, Paul, says he's been told that if it happens again, the next suspension may be permanent.


Mar. 10, 2014 @ 11:43 AM

Laughter and grief belong together

Eighty-three-year old Ron Kilmartin was in a hospice, dying of lung cancer. His daughter was at his bedside, cracking jokes about it. Here's one:

"Last week, Dad coughed and said, 'choking.' I tried to give him water but he just wanted me to turn off the men's Olympic hockey game."


Mar. 07, 2014 @ 03:48 PM

Healing starts with '12 Years a Slave'

A plea for about a dozen people who know who they are: Will you see “12 Years a Slave” now?

It just won the Oscar for Best Picture. It just came out on DVD. Please see it. I'll even spring for the popcorn.


Mar. 03, 2014 @ 10:21 AM

Welcome to the new normal

President Clinton?

Maybe, if Democratic voters have their way. While the Republican faithful are split among a number of contenders and not particularly enthusiastic about any of them, a new poll finds Democrats overwhelmingly united behind a Hillary Clinton candidacy for 2016.


Feb. 24, 2014 @ 12:18 PM

More silliness from Kansas

"Discrimination," he said, "is horrible. It's hurtful. It has no place in civilized society..."
You would think that statement, delivered recently in the Kansas legislature, a noble sentiment no right-thinking person could argue with. But we are gathered here today to argue with it.
Because it turns out that when Republican legislator Charles Macheers said "discrimination," he didn't mean, well ... discrimination. Macheers sponsored a bill -- passed overwhelmingly by the Kansas House but killed last week by the Senate in an attack of common sense -- that sought to exempt any business or government employee from providing "any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges" related to any "marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement" if doing so would conflict with the employee's "sincerely held religious beliefs."


Feb. 21, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

White fear trumps black life

"You can get killed just for living in your American skin." -- Bruce Springsteen


On Aug. 7, 1930, two young black men were lynched in Marion, Ind.
A photographer named Lawrence Beitler had a studio across the street from the lynching tree. He came out and snapped what became an iconic photo, which he made into a postcard and sold. It shows Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith hanging dead and their executioners, faces clearly visible, milling about as if at a picnic. Though authorities possessed this damning photographic evidence, they never arrested anyone for the crime. It was officially attributed to "persons unknown."


Feb. 17, 2014 @ 12:17 PM

Sometimes, making a mistake is just being human

I used to get blamed all the time for stuff Bob Steinback said.

To be fair, it wasn't always blame -- sometimes it was credit -- and it went both ways. Sometimes, he had to explain to people that it was not he who had written a certain thing, but me.


Feb. 14, 2014 @ 11:22 AM

Pitts: A few more thoughts on 'thug'

"I hate that thug music."

This, according to Rhonda Rouer's testimony last week, is what her fiance, Michael Dunn, said when they pulled into a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station next to an SUV full of black kids who had the stereo up high, pumping some obnoxious, bass-heavy rap.
Rouer was inside the convenience store when she heard the shots. Dunn, who is white, had gotten into an argument with the young men about their music, had gone into his glove box for his pistol and started shooting. As the SUV tried to get away, he fired still more rounds. At least one of those rounds fatally struck 17-year-old Jordan Davis.


Feb. 10, 2014 @ 12:44 PM

For sale, Martin Luther King's legacy

Maybe we should take up an offering.

Obviously, the heirs of Martin Luther King Jr. are hard up for money. That must be why they keep selling off pieces of his legacy.


Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

Change across the universe

It's an odd thing.

Sometimes, when I speak before high school or college students, someone in the audience, knowing I began my professional life as a pop music critic, will ask what I think of music today. I always demur that I don't listen to a lot of it, but that most of what I do hear kind of, well ... bores me. While there are exceptions -- i.e., Adele -- much of it feels corporate, cold, plastic, image-driven, less reflective of talent than tech, more programmed than played.


Feb. 03, 2014 @ 01:24 PM

Sincerest sympathy to the filthy rich

Dear Tom Perkins:

I'm writing to apologize. I do this on behalf of the 99 percent of us who are not multimillionaires. You, of course, are, having made a pile as a venture capitalist and co-founder of the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.


Jan. 31, 2014 @ 11:32 AM

Trigger happy in the gunshine state

Doug Varrieur likes to shoot.

Problem is, it's 25 miles to the nearest range, where they charge $45 an hour. What's a gun enthusiast to do?
Lucky for him, Varrieur lives in Florida. Problem solved. Just erect a makeshift range in the back yard and fire away. It's perfectly legal.


Jan. 26, 2014 @ 09:56 PM

On race, conservatives are silent

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Sometimes, you get the feeling that's the only King quote conservatives know.


Jan. 24, 2014 @ 09:21 AM

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work

But it works."

That, in three syllables, has been the go-to argument of the last two presidential administrations to justify assaulting civil liberties in the name of rooting out terrorists.
It's a dubious line of reasoning, proceeding as it does from the implicit assumption that if a thing works, if it achieves the important goal for which it was designed, that trumps all other considerations.