Danny Duncan Collum, a Sojourners contributing writer, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. He is the author of the novel White Boy.

Posts By This Author

Wanted: Presidential Backbone

by Danny Duncan Collum 01-01-2011
Corporations don't have to breathe the air or drink the water—so why are they "people" too?

Here's some 2010 midterm election commentary ripped straight from the headlines—of 1886.

As we all know by now, the story of the 2010 campaign season was the torrent of secret, unaccountable corporate cash used to saturate the airwaves with false, or nearly false, pro-Republican advertising. I live in an upper South border region, prime natural habitat for Blue Dog Dems, and here the commercials aimed at southern Indiana's Baron Hill and central Kentucky's Ben Chandler rendered even the World Series almost unwatchable.

Overall campaign spending made 2010 the third most expensive election ever, behind 2004 and 2008. Fred Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit Democracy 21, told Politico that about $200 million was being spent by outside groups that did not disclose the sources of their money.

It is generally acknowledged that the deluge of midterm campaign cash was unleashed by a conveniently timed January 2010 Supreme Court ruling, in the Citizens United case, which enshrined corporations' right to spend money in political campaigns as an essential First Amendment protection. Adding his voice to the majority in that case, Justice Antonin Scalia gushed, "To exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy. We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate."

Slate magazine's legal correspondent, Dalia Lithwick, cleverly dubbed Citizens United "The Pinocchio Project" because it sought to turn an artificial corporation into a real boy. But the Pinocchio Project has been going on for a long time. In fact it goes back to—you guessed it—1886.

What's Wrong with Privatizing the Internet?

by Danny Duncan Collum 12-01-2010

For a while it looked like the battle for "Net neutrality" was won when President Obama appointed his own chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

McCarthyite Mashup

by Danny Duncan Collum 11-01-2010

It happens every summer. Newsmakers go on vacation, real news gets slow, and novelty stories rush in to fill the vacuum. One summer it's child abductions; the next it's shark attacks.

Gaming the Curriculum

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-2010
A school claims video games help students learn to "manage complexity." But will they understand culture?

Why Does Glenn Beck Hate Community Organizers?

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-2010

The Main Reason: They upend the power structure to give people at the bottom a better chance.

Corporate Country's Sell-Out

by Danny Duncan Collum 08-01-2010
Let's just call the Music City deluge a naturally occurring metaphor.

Once Was Lost

by Danny Duncan Collum 08-01-2010
Lit: A Memoir, by Mary Karr. HarperCollins.

A Virtual Monopoly

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-2010
A titanic struggle is being waged over the future of the internet.

Johnny Cash's Final Songs

by Danny Duncan Collum 06-01-2010
The man in black shows us how to die.

Corporate Blocks on Broadband

by Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-2010
Will one-fourth of our citizenry be left in the digital ditch?

High-speed Internet service arrived at our home this week. We’re only one decade late for the 21st century, and the rejoicing has reached the heavens.

We live in a mostly rural county of about 35,000 people, and for most of us the only alternative to dial-up is satellite service, which is high-speed but not as fast as cable broadband. Satellite is also unreliable in bad weather and very expensive.
My family’s digital leap forward came thanks to a local wireless company that started several years ago to provide high-speed business access for some of our big farmers. They began by putting transmitters atop grain silos, offering free service to the silo owner in lieu of rent. Now they have some real towers, and one of them can hit our hilltop home. If we lived in a valley, we’d still be out of luck.
All of this is not just a personal problem. Almost 10 percent of the U.S. population still has only dial-up, which, at this point, is almost unusable for anything except text e-mail. Add in the folks with no Internet connection at all, and you have one-fourth of our people left in the digital ditch. Those folks are not just missing the piano-playing cat on YouTube. The disconnected are also, for example, unable to take online college classes or download many public documents that are no longer readily available in print. And, increasingly, they simply don’t know what is being talked about during election campaigns that are often driven by online video postings.

The Voiceless Majority

by Danny Duncan Collum 04-01-2010

I have a relative up in the Rust Belt who owns a small machine tool company and watches Fox News.

Prosperity Pedagogy

by Danny Duncan Collum 03-01-2010

My oldest child is applying to colleges, so there’s been a lot of talk around my house this year about the underlying purpose and real value of education.

America's Rebel Artist

by Danny Duncan Collum 02-01-2010

Was Jack Kerouac a keeper of visions or a self-destructive individualist?

Behaving Badly

by Danny Duncan Collum 01-01-2010

Our politically mad times.

Fat Cats and Failed Systems

by Danny Duncan Collum 12-01-2009
Capitalism: A Love Story examines a "filthy, rotten system."

Seeing is Believing

by Danny Duncan Collum 11-01-2009
Creating a better world first requires an act of imagination.

God's Word for the Pint-Sized

by Danny Duncan Collum 09-01-2009
Vacation Bible Schools isn't nearly as bad as, say, the Inquisition.

Family Reunions

by Danny Duncan Collum 08-01-2009
Two multimedia projects see Africa as the planet's musical heart and soul.

Long Live Gravity

by Danny Duncan Collum 08-01-2009

Smart people concocted a fantasy empire based on investing in other people’s debt.

Changing Our Minds

by Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-2009

When I began writing this column back in 1985, my page could hold up to 1,000 words. Over the years that number has shrunk, first to 800, then 700.