Slate Fare

25 Years of You Said What?

To celebrate Slate’s birthday, a few of its more forceful arguments. We didn’t say greatest. That would cause a fight.

Several picture frames that contain photos of a face mask on the ground, a plate of pie, a forbidden sign between a period and a capital letter, Michael Jordan dunking, three people at a dinner party, three transmission towers, and Cookie Monster.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus, Richard Termine/, Thinkstock, and Focus on Sport/Getty Images. 

What would the world look like if Slate had its way over the past 25 years? There would be lots more octopuses on dinner plates, and far fewer birthday dinners, for one thing. Also: Santa Claus would be a penguin. And August would be toast. Here a few of the more memorable provocations from our first quarter century.

Every Last One of Us Is a Chaos Muppet or an Order Muppet
“It’s not that any one type of Muppet is inherently better than the other. (Order Muppets do seem to attract the ladies, but then Chaos Muppets collect the chicken harems.) It’s simply the case that the key to a happy marriage, a well-functioning family, and a productive place of work lies in carefully calibrating the ratio of Chaos Muppets to Order Muppets within any closed system.”
By Dahlia Lithwick, June 8, 2012


Two Spaces After a Period: Why You Should Never, Ever Do It
“Is this arbitrary? Sure it is. But so are a lot of our conventions for writing. It’s arbitrary that we write shop instead of shoppe, or phone instead of fone, or that we use ! to emphasize a sentence rather than %.”
By Farhad Manjoo, Jan. 12, 2011

The Octopus Is Not a Crafty, Soulful Genius. It’s Dinner.
“Our fever for the octopus has helped the animal to clamber up above its fellow mollusks—clams and slugs and snails—on the ladder of morality.”
By Daniel Engber, March 1, 2018

Minority Rule Does Not Have to Be Here Forever
“The ‘framing’ of the Constitution is continuous, an ongoing process by which Americans revise their understanding of the republic.”
By Jamelle Bouie, Oct. 14, 2018


Pie: It’s Gloppy, It’s Soggy, It’s Un-American
“Pie, today, stands in the national imagination as proof of authenticity, tradition, humanness, good faith. Except it’s not. Pie is an interloper trading on a false history and a tangle of confusion about its cultural role.”
By Nathan Heller, June 3, 2011

America Is a Sham
“Policy changes in reaction to the coronavirus reveal how absurd so many of our rules are to begin with.”
By Dan Kois, March 14, 2020


When “Free Speech” Is a Marketing Ploy
“The University of Chicago is dissing safe spaces and rolling out the red carpet for controversial speakers to boost its own brand. It’s working.”
By Osita Nwanevu, March 23, 2018


Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore
“I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin. That’s right: a penguin.”
By Aisha Harris, Dec. 10, 2013


The Evil List: Which Tech Companies Belong On It—And Why
“Slate sent ballots to a wide range of journalists, scholars, advocates, and others who have been thinking critically about technology for years. We asked them to tell us which tech companies they are most concerned about, and we let them decide for themselves what counts as ‘concerning.’ ”
Entries compiled by Jonathan L. Fischer and Aaron Mak, Jan. 15, 2020

The Grandkid Strike: A Bold New Plan to Change Your Parents’ Bad Voting Habits
“The point is, your parents will be forced to decide which is more important to them: their ill-informed allegiance to trickle-down economics, or their ability to lavish love upon a squishy, nice-smelling, giggly little cutie patootie.”
By Christina Cauterucci, May 24, 2019


It’s Time to Forgive The Joy Luck Club
“The landmark film beautifully portrayed the Asian American experience. Then Asian Americans turned on it.”
By Inkoo Kang, Aug. 17, 2018

The Case—Please Hear Me Out—Against the Em Dash
“The problem with the dash—as you may have noticed!—is that it discourages truly efficient writing. It also—and this might be its worst sin—disrupts the flow of a sentence. Don’t you find it annoying—and you can tell me if you do, I won’t be hurt—when a writer inserts a thought into the midst of another one that’s not yet complete?”
By Noreen Malone, May 24, 2011

It’s Time to Get Rid of August
“Purists will insist that we shouldn’t tinker with the months, that August should be left alone because it has done workmanlike service for 2,000 years. That’s nonsense. Calendars are always fluxing. August itself was a whimsical invention.”
By David Plotz, July 27, 2001


Is This American Resilience?
“You can’t ‘beat’ a virus. Our addiction to war metaphors can’t get us there. But American exceptionalism—like its machismo—requires that we believe, even against the testimony of experts and the evidence of our own eyes, that the ‘greatness’ of America is eternal and invulnerable, as is the constitution of the prime American hero (Trump is the healthiest president we’ve ever had!).”
By Lili Loofbourow, March 17, 2020


Michael Jordan Is Exactly Who I Thought He Was
“The big question I had going into The Last Dance was, ‘Is there anything more to Michael Jordan than basketball?’ If this documentary is the final word on his legacy, the answer is: apparently not.”
By Joel Anderson, May 17, 2020


Why It’s Fair to Compare the Detention of Migrants to Concentration Camps
“This is not just a debate over semantics. How we categorize what is happening on the Southern border has everything to do with how the public and lawmakers will respond.”
By Jonathan M. Katz, June 20, 2018

One Alternative to Tearing Down Confederate Monuments
“Repurposing—making the original statue into a whole new piece of art—preserves the fact that the statue existed while making it clear that people living in the present day have moved on from the ideology it represents.”
By Rebecca Onion, Aug. 18, 2017

The Misleading War on GMOs: The Food Is Safe. The Rhetoric Is Dangerous.
“Genetic engineering isn’t a thing. It’s a process that can be used in different ways to create different things. To think clearly about GMOs, you have to distinguish among the applications and focus on the substance of each case.”
By William Saletan, July 15, 2015


It’s About Time for Us to Stop Wearing Masks Outside
“In the beginning of the pandemic, it made sense to mask up as much as possible—we were in an emergency, and it felt sort of appropriate to signal to one another that we all understood the seriousness of this virus. But masks shouldn’t go on being a blunt-force declaration of safety; we should embrace their nuanced use.”
By Shannon Palus, April 17, 2021

Why I Can’t Abide by the AP Stylebook’s Rules on How to Talk About Suicide
“I don’t begrudge those who are more comfortable with ‘died by suicide’ or ‘killed themselves’ but I bristle at the prescriptive nature of their objections, as though the rest of us who prefer ‘committed suicide’ are wrong and need to catch up.”
By Torie Bosch, Jan. 16, 2018


After Trump, Twitter Is Somehow … Even Worse?
“I certainly don’t miss Trump’s tweets. If anything, the way his absence has reshaped conversation on Twitter proves that deplatforming works and the tactic should be deployed more often. But it also suggests that, in many ways, Twitter was tailor-made for Trump’s specific brand of noxious, rage-fueled shitposting.”
By Rachelle Hampton, May 12, 2021


The Hajj Can’t Go Back to What It Was Before COVID-19
“There are close to 2 billion Muslims worldwide. Even at current capacity levels, it would take more than 500 years for every Muslim to go on the hajj. So, it’s already not a reasonable expectation that every Muslim have the opportunity to go. But it will save lives, and Mecca’s historic sites.”
By Aymann Ismail, July 27, 2020


In Defense of the ’90s
“I would argue that the Zeitgeist of the 1990s wasn’t purely frivolity and selfishness. To the contrary, the decade that just ended was one of remarkable economic, technological, cultural, social, and even moral advancement. Some puritanical instinct tells us that doing well, personally or collectively, must have a dark side. But to paraphrase Elvis Costello, what’s so awful about peace, love, and prosperity?”
By Jacob Weisberg, Nov. 1, 2001

Bring Back the Golden Age of Broadcast Regulation. Especially for YouTube and Facebook.
“It wouldn’t mean that the feds would decide what is and is not acceptable speech on the platforms. But it could mean rules against broadcasting hateful views or disinformation to large audiences. Freedom of speech isn’t the same thing as the freedom to broadcast that speech.”
By April Glaser, June 6, 2019

An Invective Against Birthday Dinners
“Seems like a nice idea, the birthday dinner. It is not.”
By John Swansburg, Oct. 21, 2008