The Best TED Talk Ever?

The Best TED Talk Ever? March 16, 2012

That’s what some people are saying about this barn-burner by Bryan Stevenson. One of my friends who witnessed it live wrote,

After his talk, he received a breathtaking standing ovation. The raw energy and length of ovation was unequaled by any talk I’ve experienced at a live conference (probably 45 seconds of applause is edited from the video). He is asking us to do something about the injustices in our own country.

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  • What needs to be especially highlighted is the fact that a vast majority of imprisoned folks in the US are there for victimless crimes. The last statistics I’ve heard were that many prison terms that are 6 months or longer are due to the possession of small amounts of Marijuana. Entire lives, careers, families…mostly of black men, are destroyed by the war on drugs. I will never understand this obsession with imprisoning other human beings, and destroying their lives for addiction to a substance.

    Thanks for sharing this…it was very powerful.

  • Luke Allison

    Time to get Hamsterdam started! (I’m about 50 percent serious on that)

    The biggest lie that an authority structure can propogate is the “this is our best possible option” dodge. If they can convince us that change would actually make things more dangerous, and that we’d be better off leaving this sort of thing up to the “professionals”, then we forget how to weep over things that are this heinous. Now, the question is, what are we going to do with our weeping?

  • Phil Miller

    It is interesting to read some of the comments underneath the video on the TED page. I think that idea of retributive justice is so ingrained in our society that to speak of justice as being restorative or reformative seems, well, like an injustice to many people. It is hard to get people to actually believe that what overcomes violence is not more violence.

    • Do you suppose that the secular society is attempting to justify itself using the subtiutionary atonement of the penal servitude with of a designated subgroup? …the fascination with the ‘penal’ part… continuing to think it through here, the central theme in my personal experience is healing, aka “rehabilitation”.

  • The speaker seems to be only concerned with African American inmates. It would be nice if he didn’t focus so much on blacks only. Other races are in the prison system as well.

    • Way to focus on the important part, Lock.

      • When I did prison ministry I did not focus on my own race. ” I could say Asian people are not just a minority in society, but even a minority in prison…” Asian people…..” Problems and solutions for inmates in state’s penal system apply to all races, not just to any specific one.

        • Rob

          Lock, what is wrong with you mate? Which part didn’t you hear of ” one out of three black men between the ages of 18-30 is in jail, in prison, on probation, on parole… and in urban communities….50-60% of all young men of colour are in jail, in prison, on probation, on parole..” ? Isn’t it obvious he’s focusing on the one race because of their abysmally disproportionate over-representation in the criminal justice system? As well as because that is where his identity is. I truly don’t understand why you feel compelled to make such unhelpful comments in response to such a powerful and inspiring talk.

          Thanks for sharing this Tony.

    • Nick Ruiz

      I think that part of the point of the video is that his identity makes him see the injustice, and his actions form his identity. His anecdotes are on African-American inmates, but this driving point is on social injustice as a whole.

  • Jared Enyart

    Thanks for pointing us to this talk Tony. Good stuff.

  • Kenton

    Excellent, Tony, and thanks for pointing it out. I don’t know that I would put it ahead of Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talk about Ketchup and Spaghetti Sauce, but it’s greatness, none-the-less.

  • Gary Manders

    How do we support Bryan in his call for justice? Awesome speech!

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