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Sean Spicer's Emmys bit is the redemption arc we don't need right now.

It's not quite the level playing field we'd like to believe.

Sean Spicer's Emmys bit is the redemption arc we don't need right now.

Sean Spicer, the man who began his tenure at the White House by claiming, contrary to all evidence, that Trump's inauguration crowd was "the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period," received a roaring round of applause when he appeared on stage at the Emmys.

Sean Spicer at the Emmys. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.


Reactions in the audience ranged from delight to shock, as the same man who once ranted that "not even Hitler" used chemical weapons or gas on his own people (blatantly false) was invited to spend the evening rubbing elbows with Hollywood's elite.

Less than two months after officially leaving the White House, the same man who supported Trump's claim that there were "millions" of illegal votes in the 2016 election by misrepresenting a 2008 study has seemingly shed his pariah status. How?

Actor Jason Isaacs shared his feelings on Spicer's Emmys appearance in a no-holds-barred Instagram post.

"What were the Emmys thinking celebrating this modern day Goebbels, who was the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak just moments ago?" Isaacs captioned a selfie he took at the Netflix after-party with Spicer in the background. Spicer "has the aura of a giant festering abscess," Isaacs wrote.

It's not as though Isaacs is alone in thinking the gleeful reintegration of Sean Spicer into polite society is out of bounds.

Spicer's ability to shed his poor reputation is not without precedent.

People just love a good redemption story. Conservative commentator David Frum, a speechwriter during George W. Bush's administration, is best known for the infamous "Axis of Evil" speech that laid the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. Today, you can find him being approvingly retweeted by liberals and progressives for his "#NeverTrump" views, offering political commentary in writing and on TV.

The same can be said of Rick Wilson, a Republican ad-maker who was the driving force behind a 2002 TV spot suggesting that  Vietnam veteran Max Cleland was sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden and a racially-tinged 2008 ad centered on candidate Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. These days, he can be found making regular appearances on MSNBC and being favorably written about on liberal blogs.

For the most part, their pasts have been wiped clean. It's no surprise, then, that so many are willing to ignore Spicer's propagandist past and allow him to be remembered more as the lovable satirization Melissa McCarthy played on "Saturday Night Live" than for the very real harm he caused to American citizens during his brief tenure as Trump's press secretary.

Spicer during a January press briefing. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Not everybody gets the kind of "good redemption story" that Sean Spicer is currently enjoying.

In a tweet following Spicer's Emmys appearance, MSNBC host Chris Hayes summed the problem up perfectly.

Forgiveness, redemption, and fresh starts are too often offered only to the powerful. The wealthy. The elite. The rest of us aren't so privileged.

Perhaps no better example of this dynamic exists than two stories currently playing out at Harvard University. The school recently unveiled its Institute of Politics visiting fellows for the Fall 2017 session. Among those invited were Sean Spicer and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Chelsea Manning, who served seven years in a military prison for leaking classified documents, was also slated to join the group. Manning's inclusion was met with backlash (CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell even resigned from the fellows program in protest), and she was swiftly and unceremoniously removed from the lineup.

Lewandowski at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Lewandowski, who was charged with battery for grabbing a reporter during the campaign and was recently accused of threatening his neighbors with a baseball bat, has since landed a cushy CNN contributor position for several months during the campaign and is now headed to Harvard. Like Spicer, redemption came easy for Lewandowski.

Chelsea Manning, though? She doesn't get to be forgiven. She doesn't get to have a fresh start. She doesn't get an invite to the Emmys or to be a CNN contributor, even though her sentence was commuted by President Obama in early 2017.

The same goes for Michelle Jones, who after serving more than 20 years in an Indiana prison, applied and was accepted to Harvard's exclusive history program before a dean overturned that decision. She worked, studied, and made it into the school on her merits, but her past kept her from a fresh start.

"We didn't have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle," John Stauffer, a Harvard American studies professor, told The New York Times, which published Jones's story last week. "But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c'mon."

This is the kind of elitism we need to rail against, the kind that holds people to different standards based solely on who they are.

The world isn't yet a just and equal place for everyone to live, and we should always question why we're so willing to help reintegrate some who've sought a fresh start back into society, but not all. If the Spicers, Lewandowskis, Wilsons, and Frums of the world deserve a chance at redemption, why shouldn't that extend to people from marginalized groups, like Manning or Jones?

The dynamic spelled out between the anger and disbelief of Isaacs's post-Emmys Instagram post and the sober reality of Hayes' tweet about redemption say a whole lot about what justice looks like for those in power versus those who lack it.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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