Cocktail Chatter

The Syrian Revolution, the Jerry Sandusky Trial, and Gay Mormons

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

What will become of Bashar Assad’s regime?

Inside the Syrian Revolution: Whether it is this year or not, Bashar Assad’s regime is already finished.” Syria is an irreversibly and fundamentally changed country. Just last year, public protests against the Assad regime in central Damascus were unthinkable. Now, such demonstrations mark the important empowerment of protesters—and a revolution already won.

Can You Be Both Mormon and Gay? Why a religion notorious in the gay community might be ‘evolving,’ ” by Max Perry Mueller. Last week, a blog post by Mormon couple Josh and Lolly Weed revealing that Josh is gay and has been happily married with children to a woman for 10 years went viral. Mueller looks at the Mormon position on homosexuality and whether it’s possible to be both gay and a devout follower of the LDS church.

The Simple, Humble, Surprisingly Sexy Button: A visual history,” by Jude Stewart. Who knew buttons had a racy side? Continuing Slate’s series on the Evolution of Everyday Objects, Stewart sews a path through the button’s visual history. Also check out Slate’s colorful slide show on button variations through time.

Jerry Sandusky Should Plead Guilty This Minute: The ex-Penn State coach’s sexual abuse trial needs to end right now,” by Emily Bazelon. The evidence in Jerry Sandusky’s trial unalterably shows he is guilty. Bazelon explains why Sandusky should “end this pathetic travesty right now” with a guilty plea.

 “The Subversive Graduation Speech: Dear graduates: None of you is special,” by Katie Roiphe. Wellesley High School teacher David McCullough’s hostile graduation speech offered some bitter insight for its millennial-generation audience. Roiphe considers this and other subversive graduation speeches that buck the genre’s typical inspirational platitudes.

 “Why Justice Kennedy Is Just Like America: He may seem mercurial, but he is actually the original independent swing-state voter,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Many believe the coming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act will come down to the opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy. While some charge that the SCOTUS is out of touch with ordinary citizens, Lithwick contends that of all the justices, Kennedy is most representative of that “elusive Every American.”

Back in the Gay: Does a new study indict gay parenthood or make a case for gay marriage?” by William Saletan. At first glance, Mark Regnerus’ study of gay parents appears to claim that heterosexual couples are superior at raising children. Saletan argues, however, that the study’s conclusions need closer inspection. Also read Saletan’s follow-up essay on what the study can teach the left and right.

 “Why It Matters That House Hunters Is Fake,” by Marcelle Friedman. Despite their claimed commitment to journalistic storytelling, HGTV has been accused of puppet-mastering their popular show House Hunters. Friedman explains why the network’s dishonesty about the home-buying process matters.

‘Niggas,’ in Practice: Jay-Z, Gwyneth Paltrow, and when white people can say the word,” by Jonah Weiner. When Gwyneth Paltrow stirred controversy earlier this week with her tweet “Ni**as in paris for real,” many wondered whether nonblack people could ever appropriately use the word nigga. Looking at the word’s use among black and nonblack entertainers, Weiner considers the touchy quandary.

The Southwest Secret: How the airline manages to turn a profit, year after year after year,” by Seth Stevenson. Continuing Slate’s series on operations management, Stevenson explains how Southwest Airlines’ simple operations win the company consistent profitability in a notoriously brutal industry.