Category Archives: Opinion

Trump’s Transgender Ban

Once again, Donald Trump is trying to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Trump has recently signed a memo that would ban transgender people who have undergone, or are requesting, a gender transition. His previous ban was blocked by federal judges, but Trump is making another attempt, though this one is trying to limit only certain transgender people in an attempt to make it pass. The new ban also allows transgender people to be banned if they have experienced gender dysphoria. Essentially, the new ban would ban virtually all transgender people, or at least a vast majority.

Needless to say, this is vastly unfair and blatantly transphobic. The gender of an individual has no impact on their ability to serve in the military. Frankly, whether or not a person is transgender should be inconsequential to their ability and potential. There is no legitimate reason that transgender people cannot serve in the military; this ban is nothing more than a hateful and pandering gesture on Trump’s part. What good does it do to ban people from serving their country? Why deny them their own agency?

Trump and his ban disrespect transgender people’s very existence because the ban suggests that their presence somehow has a negative impact on people. It does not consider what they do and how they act, just that they are transgender, and that is somehow wrong, according to Trump and his ban. Trump seems to believe that transgender individuals will cause a distraction among the military because of their gender dysphoria and they will not be able to “stand ready.” This coming from the man who is, frankly, a walking disaster and a constant distraction from the real issues with his many scandals and numerous Twitter rants.

 

Photo from Splinter News

Arm Teachers with Books, Not Guns

As the students and victims from the Parkland shootings march to advocate for stricter gun laws in order to protect themselves and others in school, a new measure has been suggested to prevent school shootings. Add more bullets to the shooting in progress and create an undeniably more dangerous situation. Or as others would like to put it, we should arm teachers so that they can shoot the shooter. Somehow, the people who would argue for arming teachers do not see the danger in adding more guns into an already dangerous situation, or the way that their stance reveals that they care more about guns than the lives of children.

If a person’s stance is to arm teachers rather than pass stricter gun control laws, then they are saying the endangerment of children, and the loss of their lives, is an acceptable price to pay to keep guns around. Here is the issue with arming teachers; they cannot shoot the gunman until the gunman has already fired. They will not be aware that there is a shooter until he has already fired. You cannot expect teachers to spend the entirety of their class constantly looking out a window or door looking for a potential mass shooter. They cannot do their jobs if they do. So they would have to wait until after a gunman has fired and potentially killed at least one child, if not several.

You could avoid the entire situation from taking place by passing laws for stricter gun control. If a potential shooter cannot get assault rifles at all and has to wait at least several days to get a regular gun, then the threat will reduce significantly, almost to the point of wiping it away completely if the gun laws are made well and appropriately strict. Arming teachers is a passive response that does not solve, or really address, the issue. Rather, if lawmakers make the selling of assault rifles illegal, or at least vastly more difficult to the point that the average person could not buy them, as well as incorporate background checks and waiting periods, you can prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. If we do not give mass shooters the tools to commit mass shootings, then the problem gets solved and prevented.

 

Graphic from the Colorado Independent

The Austin Bomber and White Privilege

In the recent aftermath of the bombing attacks that gripped the areas surrounding Austin, Texas, many have been asking why? Why did the Austin bomber do it, and why did he pick the victims he did? Many have said that there is nothing that links the victims together, that they all came from very different places and backgrounds. Except many seem to be forgetting one important detail. The three targeted victims were either African-American or Latino, but this seems to be largely ignored.

Mark Antony Conditt has repeatedly been described as “quiet, respectful, and reserved.” Almost any online article will describe him as such, as if those traits somehow excuse what has happened, or mitigate the damage somehow. He was a white, conservative, Christian terrorist, regardless of how you try to spin it. His quiet-ness or respectful-ness does not excuse or remove the fact that he terrorized a community for weeks and killed two people and injured several others. Yet, many seem to want to almost ignore that fact in exchange for making the Austin bomber an almost tragic figure. His religion is being used to make Mark Antony seem like an upright citizen, yet if he was Muslim, then virtually everyone would be saying he was a terrorist because of his religion.

All of the bombers targeted victims who were people of color, yet no one, be it law enforcement or the media, wants to even entertain the idea that his motives were not racially motivated, simply because he did not explicitly state so in his taped confession. This bomber’s race and religion is being used to make him seem like a sympathetic person, when with any other race or religion everyone would be jumping to use them as a motivator. People often like to act like white privilege is not something that actually happens, that it is not real. But what do else do you call it when a white domestic terrorist is treated like a misunderstood child rather than the menace and monster he is?

 

Photo from the New York Post

Stop Defending Racists

“He’s from a different time!”

“He’s only a kid, he doesn’t know any better!”

“It’s how he was raised!”

People, white people specifically, have this weird desire to defend racists. We know racism is wrong; we’ll happily say it. We talk a big talk, especially on social media where real-life problems can sometimes seem distant and distorted. We rake in useless ‘ally’ points when we post about how we support black people or the LGTBQ community but when we see someone acting racist first hand we balk. We step back and defend and justify the actions of white people around us.

Sometimes, we even go so far as to defend the racist actions of long dead people. We’ll read literature written by white men who depicted people of color and women in awful ways and defend it by saying that the author didn’t know any better, that it was a different time. When the discussion of slavery or Jim Crow laws comes up, (laws which still have actual impacts on black people today), we dither over whether or not those white people knew their racism was wrong.

Let me tell you this. They knew it was wrong and they didn’t care. Our ancestors weren’t stupid. They had the same ability to think things through that we did. We can all read about and find old studies done by scientists hundreds of years ago. These studies found that black people were lesser, less evolved, brutish, dangerous and in some cases more animalistic than their white counterparts. Science that didn’t have any basis in fact. These studies were funded by the rich, the rich that wanted to justify what they were doing. The sheer volume of the literature out there seems to imply that they needed a lot of stuff to justify making their wealth by owning and torturing other people.

We need to stop justifying what they did by claiming it was a different time or that they were ignorant. Our grandparents lived through the 60’s, which means they were teens and children through one of the greatest civil rights movements in American History. They were there, alive and able to witness those moments in a way we couldn’t. They were the ones who failed to learn and understand what it meant. It’s not being from a different time; it’s being racist.

When teenagers or people our age say racist things, we try and play it off. Make them seem ignorant rather than malicious. When we do that, we prioritize the feelings of a racist over the feelings of people who are being oppressed. We side with the oppressors, and every time we justify what they do we only further prove that we find racism in any form acceptable. All of us have things we have to unlearn and relearn as we grow. It’s part of life. But justifying things as being how we were raised is just immature and empty. If we want real change then we need to hold ourselves and those around us to a higher standard; we need to stop defending racists.

The Problem with Consent

Imagine, if you will, a seven-year-old me going to her 2nd grade classroom to find the room filled with sugar cookies and balloons. It’s one of my classmate’s birthdays and their mom had brought in some store-bought birthday themed cookies to celebrate. I was what adults called a picky eater; I still am actually. I hate those store-bought cookies—the ones that come in those difficult to open plastic containers and have frosting that sticks to the roof of your mouth like cement. My parents never bought these cookies and so the only times I ran into them were at events like these.

Before, whenever a parent would come in with these cookies, I’d be given one, which I’d immediately sneak into the garbage can when no one was looking. I hadn’t yet learned the skill of eating something just to be polite. This year though I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to waste the cookie. I told the woman passing out cookies that I didn’t want one, that I didn’t like them.

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to this one you know how persistent people can be when you tell them that you don’t like a certain food. They’ll cajole, prod, and sometimes even trick you into eating the food. Convinced if you try it just one more time that you’ll love it. This woman bothered and harassed me so much about her gross cookies that I ended up taking one and biting into it, even though the taste made me gag. From then I started lying, telling people when they offered me those cookies that I was allergic to one of the ingredients inside.

On the surface this seems like more of an annoying thing that people do rather than a real societal problem, but it’s actually a larger symptom of the problems with consent in America. In that classroom that woman taught everyone in that room that it doesn’t matter what you want. “No” didn’t mean no. “No” wasn’t the end of the conversation, it was the beginning of a siege. You can see parallels in how people pressure others into drinking at parties or even having sex.

This woman thought she knew better what I wanted inside my body than I did. She wasn’t my mother, my doctor, or me. I’m not trying to demonize her, but to merely show that we have a serious problem with how we teach kids about consent. She taught every child in that room that the word “no” was meaningless and that others can and will bully you into doing things you don’t want to do. We can tell children that “no means no” all we want, but unless we put the weight of our actions behind it, then it’s meaningless. Teaching people about consent starts when we respect people and their own personal wants.

Whether its about cookies or sex, No should mean No.

 

Cover Photo from “Forks in the Road”

Katy Perry Kiss

We often hear about women having to deal with unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment, and situations were consent was ignored or belittle. There are, unfortunately, many stories like that out in the world and it is never hard to find a recent one. Not to mention the recent “Me Too” movement that has happened in Hollywood and around the nation. But what happens with a women is in the place of the harasser and the man is in the place of the victim?

Katy Perry is a judge on the television show “American Idol” where she coerced a 19-year-old male contestant into kissing her. The contestant said that he had never kissed a girl before and Katy Perry beckon him over and got him to kiss her, despite his protests. Afterwards the contestant said he felt uncomfortable during the whole exchange, and that he had been wanting to save his first kiss.

This is unacceptable. If people want to make real advancements in ending sexual harassment, women have to be held just as accountable as men when they are the perpetrators. Katy Perry harassed this young man, and frankly it is creepy and gross. Many people are blowing this off because “who wouldn’t want to kiss Katy Perry?” Just because she is a celebrity does not give her a free pass to do as she pleases.

Imagine if this was a 33-year old man forcing a 19-year old girl to kiss him. There would be public outrage. The public as a whole would call for this man’s head. But because it is a woman, and a famous one, many do not see a problem there. It is a double standard, and one that should not exist. Men can and do experience sexual harassment and when it is done so publicly, this is the time to stand up for them and do something to support them and state that this type of behavior will not be accepted, regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator.

 

Cover Photo from E News

Outcast

Loneliness is a public health concern [1]. Loneliness is linked to depression and suicide [3]. Adult, white, heterosexual men have the least friends of all groups [2]. White men kill themselves at higher rates than every other demographic [4]. Half of all suicides are carried out with firearms [4]. Registered gun-owners are more likely to be “white, male, married, conservative, older, and from rural [re: non-inner city poor] areas”[5]. They are also more likely to feel “socially alienated”[5]. This social alienation has roots in economic and education levels, but I won’t explore those roots here as there is already a lot of literature about what it’s like to be poor and white [6][12].

When people are alone, they tend to have more inflammation and stress hormones [11]. Most cults recruit people during especially stressful times in their life [13]. Indeed, many terrorist recruiters can turn lonely people into “violent extremists” by capitalizing on their fears and insecurities [14]. The things people do to fit in somewhere and be accepted, huh?

So when I hear people say things like”…since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone that knew him that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid! We did!” I don’t think they really understand their own position on the subject. Part of a larger speech [8], the words of Emma Gonzalez have been described by many as powerful and moving.

Many see it as a galvanizing call-to-arms in the aftermath of one of the worst tragedies to rock this nation since Columbine. It is natural to think this justifies throwing aside the fact that Nikolas Cruz was a social outcast. It is immaterial to the main point. The main point being that “Guns are Evil”. This assertion is of course central to the ineffable magnificence of Progressivism and the inexorable pull of civilization to cleanse our great nation of hideous violence through gun control. We, the eminently beneficent Left, just “know better than you” [9].

I don’t know if simply including Nikolas Cruz in the reindeer games of high school would have prevented him from doing what he did. Hell, remembering my own high school days, I remember seeing plenty of teary-eyed miserable teenagers with tons of friends who might have harbored thoughts of ill-will toward their cohorts. But when 92 of the last 95 mass shootings were male [7], and 54 were white [7], I wonder. Are guns really the cause?

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/upshot/how-social-isolation-is-killing-us.html [2] http://www.jstor.org/stable/30038995?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents [3]https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hidden-motives/201305/suicide-loneliness-and-the-vulnerability-men [4] https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ [5]https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/11/study-white-men-facing-money-trouble-tend-to-cling-to-guns-for-power-identity/ [6] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-original-underclass/492731/ [7]https://news.sky.com/story/why-are-white-men-more-likely-to-carry-out-mass-shootings-11252808 [8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxD3o-9H1lY [9] https://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism [10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_ethnicity_in_the_United_States [11] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/well/mind/how-loneliness-affects-our-health.html [12]https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/01/white-working-class-poverty/424341/ [13] https://people.howstuffworks.com/cult3.htm [14] https://www.fbi.gov/cve508/teen-website/why-do-people-become-violent-extremists

Snapchat, Rihanna, and Domestic Abuse

Recently the mobile app Snapchat has gotten into some hot water after having an advertisement for a mobile game called “Would You Rather”. The advertisement show one of the more offensive questions on the game, asking if they rather hit Rihanna or Chris Brown. If you are not aware, Rihanna was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of Chris Brown several years ago; he beat Rihanna and tries to push her out of his car. Photos came out during the incident that show the bruises on her face.

Snapchat should have known that this advertisement was offensive to both Rihanna and domestic abuse victims. It makes light of a serious problem in America, and belittles the trauma Rihanna went through. Many were reluctant or unwilling to believe Rihanna when the original event occurred, and she had to fight to get justice when it should have been given to her. But, instead, there is a ridiculous game and an offensive advertisement on a national multimedia app.

While Snapchat is facing major backlash for showing this advertisement, and they should, many also seem to be ignoring the actual game that created the advertisement and that particular “would you rather” choice. Snapchat has many users threatening to delete the app for good, and their stock has fallen significantly since, but the actually game is all but falling into obscurity. The mobile that made the advertisement in the first place should also be dealing with backlash, not just snapchat, especially because offensive choices like this part of the norm for them.

Neither apps should have made light of the of Rihanna’s past or domestic abuse victims. Both should face backlash for it, and while Snapchat, as a much larger platform that influences many more people, should face a larger backlash, the “Would You Rather” app needs to face some form of reprimand as well.

 

Cover Photo from Entertainment Tonight

A Movie for the Others

The movie “Love, Simon” was recently released, and it has brought up some controversy, as gay movies tend to do. Many articles have already been written asking if “the gays really need this movie”. The answer is yes, obviously, but why is it so important?

Part of it is that the movie manages to both normalize being gay and address the subject of coming out. Gay people are often treated like they are the “others”, the weird ones that always stick because they are gay. If you see them in movies, you always know they are gay; the audience is made almost painfully aware. Gay people are made to be the butt of the joke, the comic relief, or a just stuck in a movie for the sake of scoring points. This does not always happen, but far more often than not, this is the case. But in the case of “Love, Simon”, we get a heartfelt coming-of-age teen romance story. They address that the subject is awkward, that it can be difficult and life changing, but you never feel alienated from main character and story.

Gay people were not treated like the “others” in this movie. You see a character’s journey through dealing with everything it takes to come out. In a way they explain why it is so important to come out, and that people do it on their own terms.

“Love, Simon” also has a very nice, very happy ending. Much more often than not the gay character in media gets killed off or has a miserable ending. They become a tragic character who lives are ruined, and it can seem like they are being punished for being gay, because it always happens to the gay character. This movies gives a very happy and hopeful ending instead. It is refreshing and uplifting in a world with so much darkness in it.

To the Carpenter

How early is too early to get a cell phone? I have nieces and nephews that get their first phone or Android-based electronic device as young as five and six. Children in high school and even middle or elementary school are becoming emotionally dependent on these seemingly ubiquitous devices. From online lessons and homework to simple entertainment, cell phone use is quickly supplanting face-to-face outdoor activities for indoor sedentary ones. But for every benefit, there appears to be a hidden cost.

For instance, it appears to be linked to an increase in teen depression and suicide rates [1]. Since 2012, there have been several spikes in the rates of suicide and depression, for those who spend three or more hours a day, regardless of what content is being consumed.  The article offers suggestions on how to manage children’s time online and even goes so far as to say 14 is a good time for kids to get a cell phone.

But high school is an especially tumultuous time in the development of a teenager. They are just as likely if not more to withdraw from the world, either through social media, video games, or some other form of escapism. A phone would only exacerbate that. Further, the suggestions only treat the symptoms; the underlying cause remains relatively unknown. Certainly, everyone has their favorite political agenda, and are more than happy to co-opt these mental health issues to lend moral imperatives to their respective crusade.

To the carpenter, the whole world is a nail, and it’s easy to reframe an issue to take advantage of new data, new trends, or new crises. When you’re focused on how society has wronged you, any perceived slight is a good reason to tear it apart. And who feels more wronged than teenagers? Give them a popular cause and they’ll zealously support it just to fit in. They won’t stop until well into their 30’s when they start to question the relative worth of fitting in over finding out who they are and being themselves. If they ever question it. Young activists often find their ideals indistinguishable from their identity within a group and on occasion rarely move past that.

So what cause can we give the youth of today to positively channel their angst? Because rest assured, they will find something to throw their time and energy at. When they do, we have to be prepared to reap the rewards.

 

[1] https://www.npr.org/2017/12/17/571443683/the-call-in-teens-and-depression

Cover Photo from Pumpic

Toxic Masculinity and Men’s Emotions

We talk a lot about how sexism affects women, but sexism is a double-edged sword. It not only has massive effects on women and how they go about their lives, but negatively impacts men in ways we tend to ignore. For example, consider young boys of about 12 or 13 – what emotions do they openly show? Do they hug their friends?

Now consider girls of the same age, and the difference is astounding. Young girls are very physically affectionate with their close friends; they openly share emotions and are seen showing a much wider range of them. Young boys are limited in their expression because of how our society views masculinity. Showing sadness is a sign of weakness, and elation is seen as caring too much. This leads to many problems with boys growing into men and the way they have relationships and show emotions later in life.

Many men in adulthood don’t have close friendships with other men the same way women do with other women. This is detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being and also causes issues when they get into relationships with women. There is a stigma in our society that only women can show emotions; therefore men may only show deep emotions to their female partners. This is unhealthy, and women must handle a lot of extra emotional labor because of this. Men must withhold their feelings until they have a female partner to share them with and feel vulnerable in front of. This is one of the leading reasons men have higher rates of suicide than women; women have built emotional support systems, while men are made to suffer alone or put the burden on only one person.

The stigmas surrounding men and their emotions need to come to an end, and putting value in those emotions is the first step towards that.

 

Cover Photo from “The Guardian”

Gender Studies for Scientists

Radford University, like hundreds of other universities across the country, offers courses in Women and Gender Studies. I grew up in a highly scientific conservative household that taught me to see courses on those subjects as silly and useless, which is an opinion held by a lot of scientists today. My parents were both college educated, in chemistry and computer science, and raised their six children to work towards a college education, preferably in the sciences.

It was natural for me to gravitate to the more ‘hard’ sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology. I never questioned why these more male-dominated fields were considered ‘hard’ and why female-dominated fields like psychology and sociology were ‘soft’ sciences. It’s certainly not to do with difficulty.

I’m taking my first gender studies class this semester, my last semester before graduating with a degree in geology. With each week, I learn more and more about the ways my gender affects the way I study in my field and the way my peers treat me. These ways range from the gender pay gap that will affect me while I pay back my student loans to the motherhood penalty that will make getting a job in geology with children difficult.

Every woman you talk to in male-dominated sciences can tell you stories about being talked down to by male peers and instructors or by being spoken over in debates. I’ve experienced these things here at Radford. Once a male chemistry professor told me that he didn’t like having women in the lab because they were a distraction to the male students, effectively telling me and all the other girls in the class that our education didn’t matter as much as our male peers.

 

Change in Graduation Plans

There has recently been talk of changing the plans for Radford University’s graduation ceremony starting this year for the Spring 2018 graduation. The university wants to change the plan from an individual college graduation that gives recognition to each department to one single all-college ceremony. That is to say, Radford University would have a large graduation ceremony for every student, instead of each college receiving its own ceremony.

The biggest issues with this new plan is that it drastically increases the time for everyone involved and the ceremony becomes much more impersonal. This new ceremony plan forces students, and their family, to sit through several hours of graduation that has nothing to do with them. Individual departments will no longer receive recognition; departments like Geology, Geospatial, Anthropology, Women Studies, and others will be forgotten. Students will no longer have their moment of real recognition; instead they will be quickly cycled through for the sake of efficiency.

Our university has always advertised and prioritized small classes and personal connections among faculty and students. Students are able to develop close connections with their teachers, and on a day that celebrates a student’s personal work and achievements, this new plan suddenly strips them of that and makes them anonymous. Radford University prides itself on its close-knit community. This is a major selling point of the University. Yet, suddenly that key aspect of our community is being tossed aside.

There is currently a petition that is going around in opposition of the new graduation ceremony. The online petition is searching for 2,500 signatures. There is also a report available on the Radford webpage for the plans, factors, and decisions leading up to the new graduation ceremony.

Oscar Tryouts

The Oscars are just around the corner, and we are about to see who this year’s winners are. However, viewers, staff, and guests alike may want to keep a careful eye on the show this year. Many of these award shows have a tendency to not include a number of diverse movies in their nominees and/or winners, and especially considering the debacle that happened last year with the Moonlight movie mix up, people should pay attention. When a movie that has a big impact on the African-American community, as well as the LBGT community, wins a prestigious award like an Oscar only to have its moment of fame stolen by a movie that can easily be disrespectful to the African-American community, then you have to be worried the same thing might happen again.

Most award shows tend to be somewhat infamous for a lack of diversity in their nominees. When many of the awards tend to go to white people and/or men, it can get a bit worrisome about what the criteria is for winning. There is the concern of racism being a factor in deciding who wins and who does not. Not to say that a movie should win an award based solely on who the cast and crew are, but many would argue that movies often win awards they do not deserve.

This year’s Oscars have yet to happen, so there is really no telling what will happen. The nominees are looking good so far, with movies like Coco, Get Out, The Shape of Water, Loving Vincent, and so on. Many of the nominees are up for multiple awards this year as well, proving that we will have many strong contenders this year. And if a movie representing a minority does win an award, hopefully, this year there will not be another mix up to steal away the moment.

 

Cover Photo from Den of Geeks

The Confederate Flag Debate

The Confederate Flag being removed from its post – photo from ABC News

It is the debate that never seems to die down, partially due the groups of white supremacists that continue to pop up and partially due to a stubborn refusal from many people in the American south. Many people wish to fly the Confederate battle flag both on their personal property and at public and/or government buildings. Many of them claim it is part of their heritage and part of the history of the U.S. While it may be a part of the history of the U.S., that does not mean it should be flown, if anything it means the flag should be kept exclusively in a museum. And as far as heritage goes, it is a heritage of hate and slavery and you should not be proud of that. It is part of an abysmal chapter in the history of this country and people need to get over the fact that the Confederacy lost.

The Confederate flag does not honor anyone or anything, including the troops who fought under it. They were traitors to this country, which was the whole point. They were a part of a group of people who decided to leave the Union and fight against it for the sake of keeping slavery. This is not something that should be celebrated or honored, it is a disgusting display of racism. That is what this is all about, a bunch of people who do not want to give up their racist ideologies, because that is what the Confederate flag represents. It should be in a museum as a warning and a lesson from that past, not “flown proudly”.

Supporters of flying the Confederate flag need to realize that it is a symbol of hate and racism, of years of systematic abuse and dehumanization, one whose effects can still be felt today. Many likely do realize and simply do not care, content with their racist ideologies and wanting to preserve them but decorating it as “heritage” and “history” for the sake of avoiding the backlash they know they will face for being racist.

The 1st Amendment in Danger from the World of Sports

Baltimore Ravens players kneel during the National Anthem – photo from ABC News

For some time now there has been a great deal of controversy in the National Football League (NFL) over players taking a knee during the National Anthem. Started by Colin Kapernick in protest of the many of African Americans that were and are being killed by police officers, it is a form of protest that has gain a lot of traction and has since gain national attention thanks to the twitter rants of our so called President, Mr. Trump. Trump has even gone so far as to suggest that any NFL player who takes a knee should be fired. Unfortunately, this idea has also gained some traction.

There has been talk among the members of the NFL of actually making it a rule that all players must stand during the National Anthem, or else be fired. This is in blatant disregard of the player’s 1st Amendment rights to peaceful protest and it shows just how far people are willing to go to enforce their own ideals on people and to ignore the racist and dehumanizing treatment that African Americans and other people of color face in this country. Here’s the thing, the reason why players are taking a knee is to protest the treatment of African Americans in this country, not to disrespect the flag, or the troops, or what it is supposed symbolizes, but many people want to draw attention away from the real issue and make a big fiasco out of the actual act, so no one will pay attention to the real issue. The people who are angry at the players, like Trump is, are more concerned with a piece of cloth then with the lives of actual human beings.

There is nothing special about this piece of fabric. The patriotism, values, and freedoms it represents are not magically imbued into it nor does it go away if it gets disrespected. It is funny how so many people get so angry and lose their minds over a piece of cloth and their own self-absorbed beliefs, but black children and adults can get systematically murdered, abused, and discriminated against but they don’t bat an eye. Instead, they rather hyper fixate on the players taking a knee and impose a rule of forced patriotism. Except, it is not patriotism. When patriotism is forced and you take away the rights of the people to protest, it is not patriotism, that is called fascism.

Horrors of Hollywood’s Harvey

The land of Hollywood is known for its gossip and scandals but recent events have brought forth a serious and shocking, and apparently not so secret, secret. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by an increasing number of women in the film making industry, with famous names such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelia Jolie being among the women to come forward. Harvey Weinstein has reportedly been harassing (both sexually and not) women for decades, as well as harassing men and almost anyone he has worked with. It was something of an open secret among the people who work for him. Weinstein was a movie mogul and could do great things for his movies and the careers of the people who worked with him. This gave him a lot of power and it was power he blatantly abused.

Among other things, Weinstein was reported to have badgered women to give him a massage while he was naked, to offer to help their careers in exchange for sex, or even force himself on to the women. This was behavior that he was allowed to get away with for two reasons: because he was Harvey Weinstein, a movie mogul with all of the power in these situations, and because many women felt that nothing would get accomplished if they did speak and, in fact, that it would hurt or even destroy their careers. This is a horrendously disgusting mindset and environment that has been cultivated over the years. No one should be in a situation where they have this much power that they can abuse whoever they like, however they like, nor should anyone be made to feel this powerless, especially in the case of sexual assault.

This man should lose everything he has because he gain his reputation, his power, and his wealth through a manipulative system of various kinds of abuse, the most prominent being his sexual abuse of women. It is horrifying that this went on for as long as it did, but, on a brighter note, this man is finally being held responsible for his actions and many organization, including the company he started, are readily denouncing him and striping him of many of his titles and rewards. This is also encouraging many people to come forward with their stories of abuse and letting them know they can speak up with fear of punishment. Terry Crews has even announced on twitter his own experience with sexual harassment, where he was blatantly groped at a party, in front of many people. Hopefully, this will be an experience that will prevent further abuses of women and power and one that encourages everyone to speak up in the instants that it does happen.

 

Photo from Washington Post

Trump Threatens to Silence NBC

In yet more frightening news from Trump, he threaten to revoke the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) broadcast license. NBC recently released a report that claimed that Trump wanted to increase the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal “tenfold” back in July. Trump has since released several Tweets that called this fake news and threaten to revoke the company’s broadcasting license. There are a lot of issues with this and, when you think about it, it is actually kind of terrifying.

President Trump accuses NBC of being “Fake News.”

The best case scenario is that Trump is once again throwing a tantrum and blowing a bunch of smoke like he always does whenever anyone criticizes him, something that happens a lot given all of the opportunities he provides to do just that. This means our president is an insecure man who is incapable of behaving like a rational adult and instead waves around a proverbial gun at whoever displeases him. That is a disaster waiting to happen and vaguely reminisce of a baby playing with hand grenades.

The worst case scenario (one that seems all too likely) is that Trump is very much entertaining and considering the idea of abusing his presidential powers to censor whoever he likes, whoever speaks against him or his government. This is dictatorship, this is fascism, this is terrifying. When there are so many other important issues to be concerned with, what does it say about our president when he is focusing his attention on a news broadcasting company that said something he did not like? Why is it that anytime any public group criticize (and only when they criticize) Trump, he calls it “fake news”? This is not a man with the best interests of the people in mind, this is a power-hungry dictator waiting to devastate our country. What if NBC is just the start of his attempts to destroy freedom of speech and the freedom to criticize the government? There is nothing solid yet, no direct action has been taken, but this does not bode well for our country or the next four years.