Tag Archives: crime

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother

Edward Snowden – Photo from PBS.org

The web article ‘Government Surveillance and Academic Thought Policing are Taking us to 1984′ by Art Carden [1], talks about progressive policies and their effect on the conservative half of our 2-party system. It isn’t framed that way, but that’s what it refers to. It’s framed as a critique of our modern-day society as seen through the lens of a perfect socialist dystopia set 33 years ago. He explores some of the preliminary results of the Sexual Revolution. It hints at the depths and pervasiveness of changing attitudes in institutes of higher learning – and the unforeseen psychological impact of those attitudes outside of that social circle.

It begins by drawing parallels between the Party’s incessant spying on its own citizens and the current surveillance practices of our government. With each page, Orson Welles envisions increasingly inventive ways to strip the privacy, dignity, and sanity from his imaginary citizens. Two-way cameras, government surveillance, and the torture of anyone who dares question the regime. If the reports released by Edward Snowden are to be believed [2], smartphones, Smart TV’s, and tablets are being regularly used as 2-way surveillance devices. If anyone remembers Abu Ghraib, then the idea of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ being used on citizens and non-citizens alike going as far back as the Vietnam War [3] should come as little surprise.

And the data collected from the surveillance of said devices is actively archived by the NSA [4]. Look at that thoughtfully planned, perfectly benign tagline in the link: “Defending Our Nation. Securing the Citizens.” Gosh, doesn’t that inspire warm, cuddly thoughts? Programs like this only serve to increase our distrust of our fellow citizens, black, white, and brown. But where some might be prone to praising the initiative, others condemn it for the ethical implications of such a widespread devaluation of basic human privacy.   Complementing this racial division, exacerbating class divisions that have existed for most of human society, are the sexual and gender-based divisions that have seen increased media attention. The past 3 years have been rocked with campus sex-scandals: high-school students getting molested [5], college rapes [6], and more have created one of the most isolated generations of citizens in U.S. history. Add to that a decline in social skills due to technology [7], and it’s a wonder anyone ever finds time to consider social issues.

We are living in one of the lowest crime rate periods of time in our nation’s history [8]. But abuses of power and subsequent infringements of civil rights are more pervasive than ever. And that frightens me.



[1] https://www.learnliberty.org/blog/government-surveillance-and-academic-thought-policing-are-taking-us-to-1984/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/wikileaks-says-it-has-obtained-trove-of-cia-hacking-tools/2017/03/07/c8c50c5c-0345-11e7-b1e9-a05d3c21f7cf_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.e3f3cf5e6f38

[3] http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/02/201322772747965573.html

[4] https://nsa.gov1.info/utah-data-center/

[5] http://ktla.com/2017/09/14/female-lakewood-high-school-teacher-accused-of-carrying-out-3-year-sexual-relationship-with-teen-student/

White Privilege: It’s Real and It’s a Problem

I want to start this article by saying that this is my opinion and my personal understanding on the topic of white privilege. I am a white man, so I have a pretty limited view and understanding of the nature of white privilege and how it works (that’s one of the benefits of it by the way – being blissfully unaware of it). This is not a report or professional article that breaks the issue down with facts and statistics, but my understanding of what is a very real problem.

White privilege means receiving preferred or special treatment and certain allowances simply for being white (Caucasian). Typically speaking, no one is going to look at me, as a white man, and think that I’m a thug, or that I am going to steal from a store or hurt someone. I am given the benefit of the doubt, regardless of the situation. I also get to be blissfully ignorant of the many troubling issues that are still occurring today in America and around the world, like racism. I can be unaware of the systematic racism that happens every day because it does not happen to me. Which is the most harmful part of white privilege, in my opinion.

It’s easy to believe that racism does not happen as often as it really does or that it isn’t as bad as it actually is because I’m not experiencing it. My white privilege means I don’t have to worry about the cop down the street or in the car behind me arresting or killing me. I can safely believe that they will protect me. African Americans don’t have that belief; they have to worry about potentially being killed just for being black.

white privilege
“White privilege means receiving preferred or special treatment and certain allowances simply for being white (Caucasian).” Photo from: https://az616578.vo.msecnd.net

White privilege is when a white person does something illegal and faces no consequences or less severe consequences, while a black person is faced with very harsh consequences (like, you know, death) for committing a similar crime. White privilege is when a white man goes out and does something like rape and kill a woman and gets called things like “mentally ill”, “a child”, or even “a victim” or any other qualifier meant to make a person have sympathy for him. When a black person steals something, they get called “thug”, or a “criminal.” And when the accused is an actual child they get treated like or called a man, heaving more responsibility and judgment upon them.

If you don’t believe this, go online and look up crime reports and stories. Look at their specific diction and the difference between white offenders and black offenders. Replace the white offender with someone who is African American or Middle Eastern and see if your perceptions and feelings change. Look up the cases Allen Peters and Jaquavias Sturgis, of Brock Turner and Cory Batey, of Chase Legleitner and Lamar Lloyd, to name a few. White privilege is the fact that I, as a white man, don’t have a literal terrorist group like the KKK bent on the extermination and/or enslavement of my race.

The simple fact of the matter is that as a white person, I, and every other white person, have it better than people of color, at least from a social standpoint, if not many others. We are given the benefit of the doubt in almost every situation. We have not had to deal with years of systematic oppression and enslavement. We don’t have slurs thrown at us, and there are no people who are happy to hurt or kill us. And all white people don’t have to spend one moment acknowledging that all of this happens, and they don’t have to worry about it happening to them. That’s white privilege.

No murder charge in removal of fetus?

When I visited Boulder, Colorado, there was a very strong liberal presence- which I loved. There were eco-friendly cars, a Planned Parenthood office and a Republican headquarters office that looked to be in shambles, which made this place paradise for me.

However, shortly after visiting Boulder, a incident occurred which made it very clear that there needs to be balance in pro-choice legislation. A pregnant woman responded to a Craigslist ad about baby clothes.When she arrived at the poster’s house, she was brutally attacked. The attacker, a nurse’s aide, allegedly took the woman into her basement and cut the fetus out of her stomach, killing the fetus.

The victim hid from the attacker and called 911, and police responded to the scene. They found the victim bleeding and disoriented to the point that she didn’t realize her baby had been cut out of her stomach. Luckily, however, the victim survived.

Colorado state law does not give fetuses personhood, which makes charging the attacker with murder very difficult. The law is new, which means it has tons of flaws. For example, the law recognizes fetuses as people if they can survive outside the womb for a period of time. How long that period of time is, however, is unclear. Also, because the law allows for early-term abortions, it can be difficult to claim the attacker committed murder without also attacking women who seek abortions.

In my opinion, I believe the law needs to spelled out and airtight. This woman was clearly a victim. She was attacked and had her baby forcibly removed from her stomach by a nurse’s aide(not even an actual nurse), which could have caused far worse injuries. She innocently responded to a Craigslist ad searching for clothing for her baby, so clearly she wasn’t planning on aborting. The attacker, however, clearly had planned to,lure in the woman by posting the ad.

To add insultGraphic from IMG Kid to injury, a Republican lawmaker and professional lunatic (aka televangelist) named Gordon Klingenschmitt claimed the incident was an “act of God.” He explained by saying God was punishing America for allowing abortion. It never fails to amaze me how low the right will stoop.

If someone was kidnapped and had an organ forcibly removed, there would be outrage. It happens all the time around the world and often isn’t reported, but the people who do it are deemed the scum of the Earth. This woman didn’t take out a lung or a kidney which would make her victim’s body operate inefficiently, but she forcibly took out her baby — which could cause long-term damage to her reproductive organs and years of emotional scarring. If an organ or even a limb were taken, the attacker would never again see the light of day.

There’s no excuse for what this woman did, but we must remember to keep the ideals of most pro-choicers out of this situation. I believe that most people who identify as pro-choice would agree that this situation is horrific and not at all what we fight for. My hope is that in the journey to becoming a pro-choice country, we can ensure that the law is more clear and doesn’t allow room for such atrocities.


Confessing to a crime: Good for society, bad for the defendant?

Matthew Cordle recently made the viral video rounds when he posted a video confessing to causing a fatal car accident in Ohio while he was driving under the influence of alcohol. Some viewers initially thought the video was a joke, others claimed Cordle was simply pandering in order to receive a lesser sentence.

Continue reading Confessing to a crime: Good for society, bad for the defendant?

Crime shares a story: Jorge Valencia

From the 4-foot cubical to a crime scene, it’s not a typical 9-to-5 career.

For Jorge Valencia, 27, it’s another day of exciting reporting. As The Roanoke Times’ primary dayside police reporter, he has covered many crimes that occur in or around Roanoke, including stories that range from the murder of a former Roanoke police officer to a pet ferret lost in the mail.

He said he got into a lot of music, like rock and roll around age 13, so with a new interest in music, he knew a career in media was a must.

Growing up in Maryland, he always knew he wanted to go other places, meet new people and explore, so he sought out journalism. Valencia said that his job gives him a license to talk to people about what they do and share it with others. He gets to see firsthand what people want to share.

Jorge Valencia. Photo by Creative Commons.

After being accepted to the University of Maryland, Valencia joined the entertainment section of the school newspaper, The Diamondback.

“I initially wanted to do media, so I did entertainment,” he said.

Before landing a spot at The Roanoke Times, Valencia interned with many newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, The Miami Herald and The Akron Beacon Journal.

While he originally set out to write about media and entertainment, Valencia fell into crime reporting. He has been at The Roanoke Times for three years and has spent the last three months in the position.

From his third-floor cubical equipped with a pocket law dictionary, domestic violence handbooks, crime statistics books and Roy Peter Clark books, Valencia dedicates 40-50 hours to research, reporting, writing and exploring new ideas out in the field. Once a week, he contributes about five hours to working with local high school teens to coordinate a page called The Edge.

Reporting crime can be an emotional and challenging experience.

“There are a few challenges that I’m constantly working to overcome,” he said.

These particular obstacles are not to vilify certain areas as stereotypical and to not let the crisis of others affect him deeply.

Valencia uses music and running as a coping mechanism to deal with crisis.

“If one doesn’t have a way to deal with these emotions, it can affect the report directly because you’re regularly talking to people in crisis,” he said.

Keeping up with current music, meeting new people and hanging out with friends are a few interests he has outside of reporting.

Crime reporting is a process that can last a great deal of time, with cases lasting from anywhere between several days to several years. Valencia’s advice to aspiring journalists is to establish connections and relationships, such as joining a journalism conference or network in which you will come in contact with potential employers. This will give them a chance to gain knowledge from these employers in order to hone their technique for future employment opportunities.

When preparing for a story, Valencia said journalists should go in with an idea of a story on the particular subject at hand. When he prepares for a story, he goes in with open expectations doesn’t set a guideline on what the story will be about. He takes along his notebook and phone for pictures.

The most important thing for journalism students to look out for is that “people aren’t always going to like you; if you’re good at what you do, you’re not going to be very popular. Sometimes the hours will be long and news might happen when you’re not planning to be at work. The pay’s not amazing, but it’s a fun and gratifying job,” he said.