The Great Marijuana Rush

With an increasingly liberal mindset in the United States population, the idea of recreational drug use is not as taboo as it once was. Every day debates are spawning across the country for drugs such as marijuana legalization in the states . The idea of recreational drug use has been contested for many years, but today we have 23number of states that have marijuana legalized for medicinal reasons plus Washington D.C.  In these states marijuana is used either as a recreational drug or as a medicinal drug. The demographic of marijuana is broadcasted and thought to be mainstream-ly young adults and teenagers but it is something everybody could use for many different reasons.  Marijuana became illegal nationally by the marijuana tax act of 1937. However, can 2015 be the year that marijuana is fully legalized? The chances are pretty high of it happening around this time as this country’s population becomes more liberal and less conservative.

    This map shows the legalized areas       

This blog post is designed to explain why marijuana SHOULD be legalized.  Besides everything being really funny and laughing for a few hours, there are many benefits from this plant. Many include: medicinal benefits, debt relief, less criminal charges, and it being over all safe compared to alcohol and other “legal drugs”. Despite this, it has been stigmatized as a detriment to society. It has been used as grounds for termination of employment, imprisonment, and has been used as a scapegoat for racism*. Worse still, more destructive drugs than marijuana remain legal (namely, alcohol), even in absence of legitimate benefits such as those that exist for marijuana. Countless organizations continue to discourage the legalization and use of marijuana, often denying that marijuana is a safe drug, despite many scientific studies that state the opposite.

One of the greatest benefits of marijuana are its medicinal properties. Countless studies have shown that marijuana can help alleviate symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and glaucoma. Beyond that, it is useful as a painkiller. This is a great property, because it lacks many of the toxins and side effects caused by chemicals put in other conventional painkillers. In fact, studies have even shown that moderate usage of marijuana over time can reduce one’s chances of contracting head or neck cancer. Further, two chemicals in marijuana (THC and CBD) have been shown to kill tumor cells. It has many benefits, and it has even been proven that lung cancer (which many associate with marijuana) is not caused by marijuana.

Now monetarily speaking, if legalization were to occur and taxation is installed, an. Now that’s some serious money for a country in 1.5 trillion dollars worth of debt weighing on its shoulders. With that relief, the USA can stress less with the money and maybe can get out of this debt (and that way we don’t become part of the Republic of China). To reiterate, that’s 100 Billion DOLLARS! All from something that people would enjoy and for some help with pain, sounds worth it. This money is purely from taxation and sales, there are other monetary gains that occur from marijuana besides these two.

There is also monetary benefit from decriminalizing this plant. In 1991, there were fewer than 800 arrests in NYC but that number increased astonglishy to over 59000 in 2010. Nationally within the 9 year period of 2001-2010, there were more than 8.2 million arrests for marijuana, 9 out of 10 being possession. The American Liberties Union claimed that more than 3.6 Billion dollars were spent on enforcing laws on small possessions of marijuana. That’s 3.6 Billion dollars that could have been spent on schools or roads. If this were to be terminated, money would be spent better than arresting non-violent “crime do-ers”. Also billions of dollars are spent on inmates and that can definitely be also used for schools. Schools need money too.

Not only does the criminalization of marijuana make an abundant amount of of useless arrests, it calls for lots of racial inequality. The ACLU claim that blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites. That is a disgusting figure in a year where racism should have died off but racial profiling still exists till this day. The article from NY time says, “Blacks are more than 10 times as likely as whites to go to prison for drug offenses. For those on probation or parole for any offense, a failed drug test on its own can lead to prison time — which means, again, that people can be put behind bars for smoking marijuana.” This can cause lots of tensions between law enforcement and minority communities and may cause uproars. This can be grounds for extreme racial inequality in places like Iowa, where blacks are arrested 8.3 times more than white people .

A young man advocating for marijuana decriminalization

Now it was mentioned earlier, how marijuana can affect and help some diseases and disorders with use. But there are also reasons of how it is much healthier to use than alcohol and other “legal drugs”. The Center Disease Control and Prevention states more than 37000 deaths for alcohol every year but does not even have any deaths relating to marijuana. When alcohol is consumed past the comfort level, people can die from overdose. Hundreds of death are accounted due to alcohol overdose and poisoning. There are countless websites advocating the safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and they write here, “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that 36 percent of hospitalized assaults and 21 percent of all injuries are attributable to alcohol use by the injured person. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that lifetime use of marijuana is rarely associated with emergency room visits” . The numbers speak alone, yet congress still finds a way to hold off the progression of this movement.

Marijuana doesn’t have to be just portrayed as 13 year olds smoking behind and abandoned building at night. It can become a beautiful product that adults can enjoy legally at bars or shops or even at the comfort of their homes. With its great recreational benefits and enjoyment to its healing and comforting jobs it does for illnesses, marijuana is an amazing plant that can soon be a great moneymaker for this country. The scientific basis should be enough in legislation but the monetary and civil reasons are also a huge plus in this movement to create a better country for everyone. From young to old, and black to white, Marijuana is still Marijuana to every person and does not change. It can help change us as human individuals but as citizens to each other.

http://archive.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/opinion/high-time-the-injustice-of-marijuana-arrests.html?_r=1

http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2010/03/legalize_mariju.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html

http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana

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The Issue of Digital Piracy

With the accelerating advancement of technology this turn of the century and the development and popularity of the internet, we as a society are facing issues that are greatly unique to our generation. Of these issues, one of the more controversial ones is the issue of digital piracy and whether or not it is an immoral act. In 1996, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed unanimously by the US Senate and with the signature of President Bill Clinton. Its purpose was to criminalize the production and circulation of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures to control access to copyrighted works. Yet, with the creation of P2P services like Napster that allowed for peer-to-peer file sharing and a revolution in the entertainment industry resulting in their product going from being tied to a physical medium, such as a cassette tape, CD, or DVD, to digital formats such as MP3s, piracy has become much more accessible and common to the average person. As a person who grew up in the time period where services like LimeWire were popular and personally know people who pirate music, movies, and video games, I decided to choose this topic because it pertains to my daily life. It is in my honest opinion that I believe digital piracy is immoral.

Proponents for piracy often argue that it is not an act of theft and that it is not immoral. To them, piracy is a natural response to a change in the market and strict copyright legislation and enforcement is a sign of the entertainment industry latching onto old ways and refusing to adopt to the new market. Some advocates have even argued that piracy is good for long-term profits. People who pirate music, for example, are likely to discover more music, give artists who they would have ignored otherwise a chance, and results in more disposable income for them go to live shows or purchase merchandise to make sure the artist gets more money. Others have argued that many artists already make so much money that it’s a nonissue while some have argued that the whole format of the industry only gives artists a miniscule portion of the profit per song anyways, so they believe pirating the artist’s songs is a form of opposition to the shady industry as a whole. For others, piracy is justified because they cannot afford to spend money on digital content and believe they deserve the same amount of exposure to culture as anyone else would. One user argued that piracy is not immoral because digital products do not require additional costs to duplicate and the original copy is still the owner’s, therefore it is not theft. For TV shows, many have used Game of Thrones as an example of how, as long as a show or movie is good enough, pirating only allows those who would otherwise not be able to watch the show to “spread the word” and basically offer free advertisement of the show. The show’s success, despite being labeled the “Most Pirated TV Show,” is a sign that piracy can be beneficial.

However, there are legitimate concerns about piracy.  For one, I believe digital piracy is a form of theft. Digital content such as music, movies, TV shoes, or video games are a form of art and I believe art has value. While there are many justifications for piracy, the fact is that, at the end of the day, you are receiving something of value for free that another person had to pay for and it is something that was not yours nor was it something consensually given to you by the owner.

The creation of any form of art is a process that takes time, effort, and money. It also requires resources to advertise or create awareness of the product and to provide the product to be consumed. Pirating a form of digital content is stealing a potential sale away from a company or individual and it greatly hurts new or independent artists, filmmakers, and game developers. In one example, Greenheart Games, a new video game developer, decided to release their first project, a business simulator titled Game Dev Tycoon, into the market DRM-free, meaning that there is no limit to the usage of the digital media placed by them, and at a retail price of $8.00. They also released a cracked copy of the game alongside the game’s release and uploaded it to a major torrent sharing site. As they state in their blog, a minute after uploading the game, all three torrents (one for each platform that the game was released on) received huge amounts of traffic and the developer’s upload speed was maxed. The cracked copy of the game and the retail version were identical, except that, in the illegal copy, the developers added an in-game message that would pop up after hours of play informing them that their in-game company was having trouble with people pirating their games until their company went bankrupt.

In a hilarious, twisted case of irony, many of these players who had pirated the game rushed to official forums complaining at how unjust it was that all their hard work went to waste because of pirates, with one user asking if there was a way he could implement DRM (Digital Rights Management) in-game.


At the end of the first day of release, the developers found that they had sold 214 legitimate retail copies of the game while the cracked copy of the game had been downloaded by at least 3104 users. In other words, 93.6% of people who owned the game had stolen it.

This is an example of how pirating can be disastrous for smaller, lesser known artists. As Patrick Klug, cofounder and developer of Greenheart Games said, “. . . as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future!”

In another example in the video game industry, an indie company named Hunted Cows was forced to shut down because of high levels of server load caused by large numbers of pirated copies of the game attempting to connect. In other words, their game was pirated so often that they were unable to support the game for those who had bought it legitimately and, as a result, had to shut down and refund all paying customers.

In film, piracy has had a substantial effect on the entire industry. In a study by independent researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, it was found that digital movie revenues increased after the Shutdown of MegaUpload, an online service that allowed for file storage, viewing and distribution. With one study by NetNames showing that “infringing bandwith use rose by 159.3% between 2010 and 2012. . .[and] that 327 million unique Internet users ‘explicitly sought’ infringing content during January 2013 [alone at] a jump of almost 10% from November, 2011, it is without a doubt that piracy has a huge impact. According to an article in IndieWire, the number of films released annually by major film companies have dropped 37% from 2006 to 2013, films from “art house labels” have dropped 63% from 2007 to 2013, and studio development budgets have decreased while major distributors have increasingly decided to ‘play it safe’ with sequels and remakes. In an article in Variety, the author says, “Development slates have been compressed, meaning fewer projects, reduced writing fees and lower expectations from top management.” One executive interviewed mentions how studios have “lost the enthusiasm for projects that drift through multiple drafts. . .[and are] increasingly. . .making one-draft deals with writers.”

In part to counter piracy in the music industry, the rising popularity of streaming services, such as Spotify, have tried to counter piracy by making listening to music a less expensive and convenient experience. However, many artists, including David Bryne, Radiohead, Black Keys, Bob Dylan, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and, more recently, Taylor Swift, have pulled their music from the service because of poor pay. Seen as the possible next step for the music industry after the transition to online music sales through iTunes, the New York Times has also come out to criticize the poor pay artists receive for each listen. For example, Zoe Keating, an “avant-garde” cello musician, received less than $1700 from Pandora, despite receiving over 1.5 million plays. While streaming services seems to be the best way so far to counter piracy, it comes at the cost of hurting smaller artist. Even PSY, famous for the YouTube sensation “Gangnam Style,” received less than $60,000 from online music sales in South Korea, despite having more than 2 billion people watch his music video for ‘Gangnam Style,’ due to the popularity of a subscription-based streaming service in South Korea that pays an average of 0.2 cents per listen. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Industrial Economics found that France’s HADOPI law, which would disconnected those who were suspected of piracy from the internet, lead to a 20-25% increase in music sales in France.

Piracy is immoral for a number of reasons. The shift in the entertainment industry to a digital distribution business model does not remove the moral obligation we have to pay for a product we consume and enjoy. It is an act that greatly affects independent or ‘smaller’ artists who rely on every dollar to make a living and, even if the artist is not struggling, takes from an artist’s Constitutionally-given right to make money from their intellectual property. While I agree with advocates for piracy that the current system is not perfect and that copyright laws can get messy, I believe most people believe there is, at least, some small shred of immorality in pirating digital content. However, it’s free and it’s easy, so we do it anyways and we work backwards to justify our actions. At the end of the day, most of us would download a car if we could.

Video Games help bring people together

The history of video games is not a very long one but it is a topic that is constantly discussed whether it be about video game violence, are video games making people less intelligent, it is a waste of time, etc. People never think about the good things that video games bring us. It sometimes make people happy to be able to play a new video game but i think it especially can bring people together because it is able to let your friend or family member play with you and/or watch to have a good time. This new technology lets us have fun with each other more often and creates new experiences for us in different ways. Sometimes the game tells us a story, or it could be a very competitive game to play with each other, or even be just a generally fun game to play and goof off  with your playmate.

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People dislike video games because they think it will be just a complete waste of time which isn’t true. Video game has the potential to teach you a variety of things. Some people learn how to be more social because it can be a topic that is being discussed a lot at school or with your group of friends. It also can teach you small but different little things like history, geometry, or even help with your social interaction with other people whether they be online or right next to you. “Most weeks there are also some initially scared elementary kids whose harried parents push them toward the games so they can finish their work on the library computers. Peppered in are kids on the autism spectrum, a young man with Downs Syndrome, and occasionally a boy with ADHD.  And the best part is, special need or not, everyone is on a level playing field when you’re playing Rockband or Just Dance.” These people were brought together because of video games while their parents did some serious work on the computers. While those parents were doing work, the kids were having fun interacting with other people learning how to play with guitar made for the game.

Some games can teach us small stuff about subjects we would have never known that we could learn from them. For example, in a game called Eve Online, many people have to understand not only understand how to play the game, they have to understand how the economics in the game works. “Within this world, players build their own spaceships and traverse a galaxy of 7,500 star systems. They buy and sell raw materials, creating their own fluctuating markets. They speculate on commodities. They form trade coalitions and banks.” Sometimes in that game you have to learn how to control the market or gamble on something to sell and hope it sells for a good amount of money in the game. The economy in the game can relate to the economy in real life which makes playing the game a good lesson in learning economics. We may not realize it at first cause we think its just a game. Later on we start to form groups of people you know to have fun and start playing together to dominate the game and market.

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You meet millions of people online everyday when you play multiplayer games. In the beginning people try to go the solo player route but it doesn’t work. In the end, those games help build relationships with people online because the game is more or less forcing you to interact with the environment around you. That is when you begin to notice the diverse culture in video games because you could be playing with a person across the world. He may even become your best friend online which is a common thing today. Once you start to gain more friends you like online, you begin to make a community or guild where others can join in as well who have the same mentality and attitude that you do. “Guilds generally have structures that are similar to companies in the real world, with leaders, executive boards, and even recruitment personnel. Such games are, in many ways, like the imaginative sociodramatic games of preschool children, but played in a virtual world”. Those guilds can either be a job to some people or they could be a fun relaxing community just to have fun in. It will be the gamers options of what they want out of the game and it would eventually bring people together.

Many people dislike games because they don’t fully understand what a game can do for you. There are many views out there that dislike games, but the same can be said the other way around. “While one widely held view maintains playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception”. Those skills are actually gained while playing games so when people tell others that they are wasting time, it really isn’t true because you are gaining skills while having fun with friends to play with. There may be some negatives to video games but they do not out way the positives that they bring. Its beneficial to us when you are obtaining skills while having fun because it is something you enjoy doing.

Another good thing about video games is that it sometimes creates places for them to go to where others with the same passion as them can hang out with each other. One place that does this is a gaming convention called PAX(Penny Arcade Expo). Its a gaming convention that many people go to to have a good time and see all the new games that will be released relatively soon. “The four-day, fan-centric convention offers rooms dedicated to the various gaming hobbies including tabletop, board games, retro consoles, and even old-school arcade games. A library stocked with board games instead of books allowed attendees to check out the latest games”. Not only do they have video games but they have other fun stuff to do because all the people there have similar hobbies. These conventions may seem hectic at first but the people you meet there is fantastic and its a good place to find out about stuff you never even knew about. So not only are you able to have a good time, but you are able to play with your friends that you brought or even strangers.

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Video games can be seen as a negative thing towards society and people will believe that video game violence can make people violent in real life too but that is something the individual himself decides. Video games are made to have fun and relieve stress, possibly even teach you a thing or two about something you never even knew about. When people go and point fingers at something, they just follow with the crowd and do the same. That is a sole reason why video games are viewed at negatively most of the time even though you can learn so many things from it. The picture above shows how many people are interested in these games and play with random people to have fun. They may not know who is on the other side of of that screen, but they sure can have fun playing with him.

I definitely think people are starting to come together and accept video games because the amount of people playing is constantly increasing. People may not realize it at first but they will soon accept it. Like i said before, video games is still a relatively new thing and it still will continue to improve. The more people that play, the more friends you are able to make online. In the end, games teach you about different things and it creates new opportunities with other people which is a fantastic thing.

My Thoughts On The Spanking Debate

Hi everyone!

Today’s discussion will focus on the spanking debate found here. I am choosing to engage in this debate because I firmly believe that spanking is wrong. Because I know what side I am on in this debate, I am interested in learning why some people are in support of it. I hope you find my discussion engaging and thought provoking. Let’s get started!

Spanking

I found both sides of the argument on Debate.org convincing. However, I found that RyddianDynia (Con) provided more convincing evidence to support his side. For example, he brought up the controversial situation involving NFL player, Adrian Peterson. I was not sure what had happened so I looked it up on Google. According to Gregg Doyal of Indystar.com, Peterson did not discipline his child. Instead, he:

…beat the hell out of him, not with his hands but – maybe this is worse? – with a stick. He beat him on his ankles and legs and then kept going north, all the way to the kid’s back, with a stop in the mid-region where the stick left marks on the child’s genitals.

That’s not discipline. That’s disgusting.

I could not agree more. Now, I understand that we are discussing and debating spanking, not abuse. What Peterson did to his son is on a whole other level. However, we should ask ourselves: When do we cross a line? When does spanking become child abuse? If you hit your son and/or daughter repeatedly on the butt with a belt, is that not considered abuse? Should that kind of behavior be excused because a child was misbehaving? In my opinion, it should not. It still seems like abuse.

Some states are taking spanking more seriously and are not in support of it. For example, a Texas court sentenced five-years probation to Rosalina Gonzales after she plead guilty to the charge of Injury of a Child for spanking her then, nearly 2 year old daughter. In Calgary, Canada, Mark Anthony Harris was convicted of assault after he spanked his 9 year old daughter with a belt. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail.

I am now going to share my personal beliefs on this issue. I remember being spanked by my father when I was a child but then he never did it again. I am not sure what made him stop but he did. I grew up to be very well-behaved and unaggressive, and I did not rebel or disrespect my parents, probably 90% of the time. That 10% is missing because let’s be honest, we all went against our parent’s wishes or misbehaved every once in a while. No one is perfect. Anyways, my argument is that I did not need to be spanked in order to turn out “good.” Furthermore, there could be a link between aggression and spanking: “These studies found that while more aggressive children were spanked more frequently, spanking increased their aggression levels…” Perhaps this could explain why I am not an aggressive person.

Because I was not spanked as a child or saw my parents spank my siblings, I do not know why spanking is necessary. Also, I will not spank my own child(ren) if I decide to have them one day. In my eyes, hitting a child is not acceptable and I would much rather explain to my son or daughter why their behavior was wrong, or why they are being put on time-out. Eliza Cook and Kimberly Kopko from Cornell University College of Human Ecology (Department of Policy Analysis and Management) says that researchers have found that time-outs yield same short-term compliance as spanking:

One study analyzed the difference between spanking and time-outs, when asking children to comply with 30 various commands from their mothers (Roberts & Powers, 1990). The researchers found that when baseline differences were taken into account, spanking was not more effective than time-outs (Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor, 2013).

It is evident then, that there are other effective ways to punish or raise children without using violence. It is also evident that Conspiracyrisk (Pro) did not do much research because he or she says that spanking is “an effective way of punishing children, that when kept within limits, is perfectly acceptable.” 

Conspiracyrisk also says that “Spanking can be used as a helpful way to teach even more so if you show your love for you child after the punishment…” He or she respond to critics saying that spanking has a negative effect on children with, “If you follow this pattern, your child will be less likely to be negatively affected by the punishment.” However, one research study found that children report feelings of fear, anger, and sadness after being spanked (Dobbs, Smith, & Taylor, 2006). Furthermore, even if parents take time to explain why a child should behave, it is difficult to internalize a parent’s explanation because of the feelings children experience after being spanked (Grusec & Goodnow, 1994). In other words, it can be frightening and confusing for a child to be hit by a parent who they love and depend on (Cook and Kopko).

I am also against spanking because studies show that it can alter and harm the brain. Therefore, children can get external AND internal scars. According to a Canadian study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, “…spanking may reduce the brain’s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells” (Molly Castelloe, Ph.D). Sarah Kovak from CNN.com also shares the same information: “Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.” What is grey matter, you ask? Grey matter “is the key to the brain’s ability to learn self-control” (Kovac).

Conspiracyrisk believes that spanking is effective because the effects are immediate. Castelloe says that “spanking gets quick results, but it doesn’t reduce the undesired behavior.” Although the effects may be immediate and a child will stop misbehaving, that does not mean they will not misbehave again. Furthermore, even if a child stops misbehaving, it does not necessarily mean they know why they are being hit or what they should be doing instead, “which is the real motive behind discipline” (Kovac).

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To wrap things up, I would like to conclude my argument by saying that violence is not the answer. I also believe that we should not put our hands on anyone, even if it is out of love. If we spank our children, we are teaching them that hitting someone is acceptable because they did something wrong (in our eyes). I would never want my future son or daughter to think like that. I feel it is an obligation to raise our children to be non-violent, compassionate human beings. When my father stopped spanking me after that one instance, he stopped a harmful cycle of violence. And because of that, I will never start one.

By Sarah Jaihe Lee

Social Media Take Over

by Sherese Case

Social Media & Me

Is social media taking over our lives? I’ll let you answer that one. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up everyday? For most the answer would be “I pick up my cellphone and go on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.” There is rarely anyone in today’s society that does not have some form of social media account. These things have such an impact on our lives that we tend to feel isolated or “out of the loop” if we do not have one. Sure enough it has made communicating with people all over the world easier, but it has definitely become a distraction. With the many advancements to technology, social media is at the tip of our very fingers and we cannot fight the urge to indulge in it.

If we take a look back to when Myspace was the most popular social networking site for teenagers, it would show that online use was not to the capacity that it is now. Assuming that most of us did not have smartphones at this time, the way we would communicate and check our profiles was through our desktop computers. This made myspace less of a distraction to us because we were not able to log on when we were in class. As soon as we would get home we would log on to our myspace accounts and spend countless amount of hours there until we were tired. Now with the increase of smartphones and apps, social media is more accessible now than ever. This has led to an increase in the amount of young adults and teenagers having social networks accounts. According to the article Social Media and Young Adults by Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, and Zickuhr, about 73 percent of teenagers said they used social networking websites in 2013 compared to 55 percent in 2006. With this information we are able to conclude that one of the reasons for this significant increase is due to easier access.

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“Why Don’t You ‘Like’ Me?”

One of the popular forms of social media happens to be Instagram. Now seen as a form of entertainment for many. From funny post to people posting “cute” selfies, is this affecting us in some way? When we were on Facebook they were called “friends” and now on Instagram they’re referred to as “followers.” In many cases some people desire to have a lot of followers because this to them shows that they are liked by others. But what we can also ask our selves is “Do these ‘followers’ influence what we post?”  Often times when we post a picture on Instagram that means we either like the picture or can relate to it (selfies included). There are usually two scenarios that follow: One where our pictures gets the amount of likes that satisfies our ego and the other where our picture does not get the amount of likes we expected and this in return makes us feel like what we thought was good was apparently not good enough. Isn’t it crazy to think that with just the tap of their screen someone can have so much influence on how we feel about ourselves. In his article Social Media and the Rise of Internet Validation, author Michael Hedrick raises a good point, he asks “Where does the deep need for social validation come from.” This is precisely the question users should be asking themselves.

When we follow someone on Instagram, we have high hopes that they will follow us back; especially when its someone we find attractive. But the result can sometimes be good and sometimes really saddening. Social media has taken over our lives so much that if this person follows us back we think “Oh, they must think I’m interesting or they must find me attractive!” but when they don’t follow us back that really becomes more than just a follow back. We start to think that maybe we’re not as good-looking or interesting as we thought.  According to the article Generation Validation: Why Everyone Just Wants to Be Liked by author Annie Daily, we have become so accustomed to getting praised online that when we go about our daily lives we expect the same thing to happen. We all want to be liked in some form because some way some how this makes us feel really good about ourselves, it makes us feel important. But we can’t have it all, not everyone is going to like us or like what we like.

Many people have become famous off of social media, that it has now become very common for people to start promoting their businesses on social networks. Vine has been one of the many social media outlets that people have gained fans rapidly from. The very basics of it is to post short 6 second videos of many things, it is mostly used for short funny videos. Some people have excelled in this and have become “Vine Famous.” It has so much power that people have became famous overnight from others just “revining” their post resulting in them gaining thousands or even millions of followers. Alyson Shontell’s article Meet the Stars of Vine shows that not only have these people gained fame but also fortune. This has become a launch pad for people and their careers and also an easy way for them to make profits. Viners who have millions of followers on vine get paid numerous amounts of money just to advertise for companies. While we might have just clicked “revine” this has probably just increased the amount of money they could potential receive. Now we have to ask ourselves; if has become so easy to gain fame through social networks, what will become of the Hollywood life that we all dreamed of. I think now its all about putting yourself out there. We have seen the capabilities of social media so basically if you want to become famous its possible, you just have to find a way to appeal to the public.

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Jeffrey Ambrose’s Dating in the 21st Century takes on the topic of how social media is also altering the way we communicate with people in today’s modern society. Dating websites are popular among older adults who “can’t find a partner the old fashioned way” and apps like “Tinder” have become some form of dating websites for the younger generation. Before social media impacted the dating world, people like our parents, grandparents etc. dated someone who they frequently saw. This person could lived in their neighborhoods or went to the same school, but mostly they would date people whom they had actually met before. Now with the invention of online dating and dating apps, people are communicating with others that may live as far as a different state. Dating has also taken on a different form; on apps like Tinder sometimes people are not necessarily looking for someone to date, they could just be looking for someone to talk to. But is it necessary for us to need someone to talk to all the time and why can’t we just talk to the friends that we already have and know personally. Social media has made it so much easier for us to get to know people from so many different places, that we probably figure why not make use of it.

The most popular social media of all, Texting. Teenagers and young adults rarely pick up their phones and call people anymore, because texting is faster and more efficient. I think even older adults are becoming more accustomed to texting. Our cellphones have become our best friends. How many of us have done this; when we’re somewhere by ourselves and we want to look like we’re not bored or lonely, we just act like what ever is on our cell phone is the most interesting thing right now, you know you’ve done that before. The increase in texting has also resulted in many tragedies. A lot of people have lost their lives from drivers who think that they can text and drive at the same time. As we know when you only have one pair of eyes, it is impossible to have them focused on two different things at the same time. Everyone knows this, so why do we risk our lives just to reply to a text message that is going to be on our phones for as long as we let it?

I want my life back social media

When doing a task that requires us to actually think it seems like time is moving in slow motion—we get bored and tired so easily. But if I may, I would like to point out the fact that people have spent countless hours on social media and hardly even realize it. If we were to calculate the amount of time we spent on our social networks I wonder how many hours a day that would be. Often times we get distracted and go on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or any other social media website you can think of. It is something that many people cannot go a day without doing, it has become so embedded in our daily routine that its hard to break this habit. We no longer get our daily news from newspapers or from watching CNN or MSNBC. We just go on twitter, Instagram or Facebook and we know exactly what’s going on within our community. Social media has reached such great depths that it makes you wonder—what does the future have in store?

Does the Death Penalty Violate the Constitution?

Throughout the history of the United States, the death penalty has served as the ultimate form of punishment for serious crimes. Since its institution, capital punishment has been a subject of debate among lawmakers, leaders, and citizens alike. Murder, treason, and arson are examples of crimes that would result in capital punishment. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, while the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution ensures that an accused individual receives a speedy and public trial in front of an impartial jury. Does the death penalty violate the 8th amendment? The Federal Government has a responsibility to weigh the moral consequences of taking human life and ensuring a fair trial for the accused. Accordingly, the death penalty violates Eighth and Sixth Amendment rights and therefore should be deemed unconstitutional and morally in-just.

Many Americans oppose the death penalty because they doubt the constitutionality of the practice, including this poster on debate.org and myself who say, “The 8th amendment prevents the government from punishing a criminal in some strange or unusual way. If someone is found guilty of stealing or breaks a law, then the court can’t cut off their hand or make them sing some annoying songs on television. So death penalty violates the 8th amendment because the government is not allowed at all to give you a cruel or unusual punishment.” In a paper written by Mark B. Samburg, the execution in the case of Baze v. Rees is analyzed. In the Franklin Circuit Court, the presiding judge over Baze v. Rees determined that a particular lethal injection procedure in the Kentucky Protocol directly opposed Eight Amendment rights. According to Judge Roger L. Crittenden, “The portion of the execution protocol calling for the insertion of an intravenous catheter in [Baze’s] neck created a substantial risk of wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain,” and was therefore determined to be unconstitutional. The court ordered the Kentucky Protocol to be modified upon the court’s recommendations before carrying out the execution of the inmate. Although the court did not outlaw the death penalty in its entirety, it instead raised questions about the different lethal injection protocols and electric chair protocols employed throughout the country. The decision introduced concern that the methods of capital punishment actually induce extreme amounts of physical and psychological pain. Baze v. Rees demonstrates that certain execution procedures in the United States constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment and that it is the duty of the judicial system to rectify the violations.

A more recent and controversial case that was highly popularized was the case of Dennis McGuire. McGuire was given an untested combination of drugs and died a visibly agonizing and elongated death. Witnesses saw that he was squirming and gasping for air. This recent event proves that at least some lethal injections are not painless and quick. As far as other concoctions are concerned, there is no proof as to what the recipient is feeling while they are paralyzed from the drug cocktail. They may also very well be experiencing excruciating pain but unable to express it due paralysis.

USSC DEATH PENALTY

On the other hand, people in favor of capital punishment believe that it is the most appropriate response to crimes against humanity, such as murder. For example this poster from the debate website says, “Well, take it into your own terms. Someone killed, kidnapped, or raped you, or your family. You would probably want them to be put to death, because killing in vain is wrong. But, as a punishment is completely necessary because it will send a message into the community stating that it is wrong, and if you do this, it will come with severe punishment, and lead to a result of lower crime rate.” Supporters believe that the penalty provides a sense of closure and satisfaction to the family of the victim. These families can take comfort in the fact that the criminal will not repeat the felony. Author Melissa Green discusses specific issues pertaining to the death penalty and states, “Death penalty advocates argue that the execution of convicted murderers deter others from committing murder for fear that they will also be executed, and also that murderers will be incapacitated: once dead, they will have no opportunity to commit additional murders. Others claim that the death penalty offers a type of supreme justice that is similar to the Biblical concept of ‘eye for an eye’. In the book The Death Penalty by author Lauri Freidman, “The punishment of murderers has been earned by the pain and suffering they have imposed on their victims,” explains Dudley Sharp, Vice President of Justice for All, a criminal justice reform organization that is in favor of the death penalty. Yet, proponents often neglect to mention the constitutionality of such an extreme punishment. According to the reasons stated previously, proponents insist upon retribution and deterrence. Both reasons rely on a subjective understanding of morality rather than the impartial justice offered by the Constitution of the United States. Consequently, citizens and lawmakers should make sure that personal convictions do not overshadow the sanctity of a human life. Taking the life of a human being is cruel under any circumstance because it prohibits the victim from enjoying “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as emphasized by our nation’s forefathers.

death penalty

The United States Constitution ensures that all accused individuals receive a fair and speedy trial in accordance to the Sixth Amendment. However, the process involved in death penalty cases ensures exactly the opposite. Although the court system takes capital punishment cases very seriously, decisions and reviews require extra time in order to process all evidence thoroughly. Due to this extra attention to detail, statistics show that capital punishment trials take longer than any other type of trial in the judicial system. “Duke University estimated that death penalty trials take 3 to 5 times longer than typical murder cases” reports author Harry Henderson. Harry Henderson, the author of Capital Punishment, explains that the death penalty basically subjects the accused to two different trials. “Two trials instead of one will be conducted: one for guilt and one for punishment.”  Additionally, many cases involve the process of appeals, which lengthens the time that inmates are on death row and must wait for another decision. Although the judicial system intends to avoid errors in judgment through scrutiny and caution, errors can still occur and the inmate suffers by losing their right to a speedy trial.

Impartiality in a jury of peers is difficult to guarantee in a death penalty case. Since the death penalty is a topic of controversy, each person reserves their own opinion on the matter. In his book, Legal Lynching, Reverend Jesse Jackson indicates, “There are no objective rules or guidelines for when a prosecutor should seek the death penalty, when a jury recommended it and when a judge should give it.” Several types of biases exist in the court room and the process of jury selection cannot guarantee that a juror is free of all biases, especially in relation to the death penalty.

Death Penalty 3

Biases involving gender, race, and religion can influence an entire jury’s judgment. For example, African Americans and other racial minorities are often targets of racism. In death penalty cases, African Americans represent a larger portion of the minorities that are condemned to death row. In a recent study of all officially recorded executions, 86% of minority executions were of black inmates. Even though the execution of African Americans was 38% when considering all races, the number of African Americans on death row has been increasing steadily. Bias in the case of gender is difficult to track statistically because the prejudice is dependent upon personal values, convictions, and upbringings that are not discussed openly without proper context. Additionally, prejudice against Islam has risen in recent years due to the terrorist attacks of September 11, in which an Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility for mass murder. Though statistical information is limited for religious bias in capital punishment cases, the issue about how to handle Muslim terrorists formerly imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay demonstrates the on going debate in current events.

According to an article by author Joe Messerli on the website balanced politics, bias can work in two ways to violate the prisoner’s rights. First, jury members who have prejudices against certain races, genders, or religions may readily opt for the death sentence against an inmate that belongs to a certain category. On the other hand, “the thought of agreeing to kill someone influences some jury members to acquit rather than risk the death. Some prosecutors may go for a lesser charge rather than force juries into a death-or-acquit choice.” In either situation, it is difficult to determine whether justice would be served, because impartiality is compromised and the Sixth Amendment is violated.

dealth 4

In conclusion, the death penalty is unconstitutional because it violates the Sixth and Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Taking the life of another human being (even as punishment) is inherently cruel. Methods of execution involve an incalculable amount of suffering and pain on the part of the accused. A judge or jury cannot feel the inmate’s pain in his or her final moments. Major court decisions have even determined that certain methods of execution impose cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, proponents of this punishment often cite vengeance, retribution, and deterrence in support of the practice rather than realizing the constitutional violations. Finally, the process by which capital punishment cases are resolved in the United States offers little guarantee for a speedy trial and impartiality on the part of a jury. Since there are so many types of biases, it is difficult to eliminate all of them in a group of individuals who come from different walks of life.

Works Cited:

Banner, Stuart. The Death Penalty: An American History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Friedman, Lauri. The Death Penalty. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2006.

Green, Melissa S. “The Death Penalty: Specific Issues.” Focus on the Death Penalty. Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. 2005. 6 Dec 2009. <http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/death/issues.html&gt;.

Henderson, Harry. Capital Punishment. New York, NY: Facts on File, 2006.

Jackson, Jesse, and Jr. Jesse. Legal Lynching. Emeryville, CA: Marlowe & Co, 1998.

Messerli, Joseph. “Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment?” Death Penalty. BalancedPolitics.org. 21 Nov 2009. 6 Dec 2009. <http://www.balancedpolitics.org/death_penalty.htm&gt;

Sager, Josh. “The Death Penalty Must Be Discarded to the Dustbin of History.” Word Press Blog. 15 April 2014. <http://theprogressivecynic.com/2014/04/15/the-death-penalty-must-be-discarded-to-the-dustbin-of-history/&gt;

Samburg, Mark. “Cruel and Unusual? The Bifurcation of Eighth Amendment Inquiries After Baze v. Rees.” Harvard School of Law. 2009. Harvard University Press, Web. 6 Dec 2009. <http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crcl/vol44_1/213-230.pdf&gt;.

Violent video games do lead to violent/aggressive behavior

video-games-kids-140324

With the advancements in technology, various forms of entertainment were produced, one of the most popular one amongst all ages is video gaming. About 90 percent of U.S. kids ages 8 to 16 play video games, and they spend about 13 hours a week doing so (more if you’re a boy). Various studies suggest that young kids that play violent video games tend to display an increase in more aggressive behavior in real life. Violent video games can alter children’s personality, whether it is short-term or not, the violence portrayed in video games can immensely effect children, especially at an early age when trying to find their place in the world. Children absorb much of the information they are exposed to when they are young, one can even say their brain is like a sponge. According to this fact, violent video games can have an influence on the way young children think and act after being exposed to them. People believe that these types of games don’t have an influence on them, perhaps they are correct, but only if they are discussing the influence on older video gamers, as their morality to tell what is right from wrong is stronger. The difference in children is that they are still learning the difference between that.

We have the tendency to mimic things when we are young, so why are we not to believe that playing violent video games won’t cause the players to act out what they have played and seen. Children are more likely to imitate the actions of a character with whom they identify. In violent video games, players participate as a character, and even choose which weapons they’ll use while fighting other characters. A popular violent (shooting) video game is the series known as Call of Duty. In this game people play in a first person shooter setting and must kill the enemy team, by the means of guns, grenades, and stabbing. Blood and offensive language is common in this type of game, and with the children exposed to this, they can learn offensive vocabulary and may even enjoy shooting just to see blood and it is an outlet to release aggression. Taking away a video game especially to young child who could possibly be addicted to it takes away that outlet which could adversely affect them in real life scenarios. Even without taking the games away the way they act online with language and aggression can be transversed into their everyday activities with more aggressive thought patterning and outbursts of aggression or defiance with other students and teachers. For example, I have seen my cousins do this at the park and sometimes eventually start hitting each other, because the other person was accused to have been “dead”.

Call of Duty COD child

When I was in high school I took part in playing games from the Call of Duty series and found them to be quite fun but looking back on it, I could see the adverse effects it had on me as well. It is easy to become addicted to these games because of the interactivity, but also the simplicity of just pointing a gun and shooting at an enemy. The frightening part of this lies in the fact that because the objective of the game is to kill the enemy team until you win. This brings about competitiveness, frustration, and an ignorance of the violence truly associated with just “pointing a gun and firing.” Losing can be frustrating to a player when they think that they are relatively good at the game especially as a new player against others who have had more experience and can beat you easier. This is where the aggression beings to build without even seeing that, the player becomes more and more angry every time they do not meet their own expectations. Winning can also prove to be violent. Researchers found that participants who played violent games blasted their opponents in the secondary task for longer, which was interpreted as an increase in aggressive behavior. Win or lose an influence of violent behavior can come about these types of games.

The games promote the killing of foreigners in campaign modes specifically terrorists domestic and foreign. Which brings up an issue of possible racism in children who have never been exposed to such ideas. As a child people are just people they are no more different to children than a granny smith apple is from a red delicious, just a different color. Exposing them to scenarios where they must hunt down people of specific races and ethnicities can affect them in real life because seeing those same people can cause aversion subconsciously. Such patterns in thinking can cause social stigmas and anti-sociality among children. With racism still a relevant problem in modern society including in game that is easily accessible to all races makes it difficult to achieve intervention to stop racism in the future. Kids will believe many things they see on the internet and television which is why controlling what they are exposed to must be maintained, because as many people know everything you read or see on the internet, video games, or anywhere else, is not always true.

One problem lies in the accessibility of these violent games. There is a rating system much like the ones used for movies depending on violence, nudity, profanity, gore, etc. Call of Duty games along with other games are considered Mature games meaning no one under the age of 18 can buy them but that does not mean that people under the age of 18 can’t have access to them. There are torrent websites that people can use to download much of the game onto blank cd’s for offline play and many children have older friends, siblings, and even parents that can get them the game. Some parents do not believe in the effects that video games can have on their children and can even buy the games for them because they do not think they are harmful to their children. One thing to think about is the fact that Baby Boomers those of the generation from the 80’s were never exposed to video games with such complexity. Pac-Man and arcade games were low budget versions of modern day video games. Comparing the two is impossible but for a parent who grew up without the experience of what these games are actually like they are actually enabling their children to have a proclivity to violence. What parents should do is pay close attention to their child’s media habits, and substitute games with violent content for those with pro-social content (such as those that involve cooperation), which have been suggested to boost pro-social behavior in the real world.

Before explaining further analyzing the opposite side of this argument is necessary to further prove the point I am trying to achieve. Researchers surveyed 371 media psychologists and communication scientists from three different organizations, in addition to 268 parents from across America and 92 members of the Council on Communication and Media from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sixty-six percent of researchers, 67 percent of parents, and 90 percent of pediatrics all agreed violent video games lead to an increase in aggressive behavior among children. With that being stated, a large group of leading experts have all come to the same conclusion, and this should alarm our society that violent video games can in fact, have violent influences to our young. There are studies that prove both sides often contradicting each other and proving new ground for both sides of the argument. One thing that separates the two is not the violence that may occur from a child exposed to violent video games but the effects it has on the way the child thinks. For example, a child may stub their toe when walking through a door an entirely meaningless accident that can be easily over passed. But once exposed to the violence in the games the thoughts that change pertain directly to the child. What was once a meaningless act, a small injury, becomes a full blown assault on oneself. The child thinks that of course it must have happened to him or her because this always happens to him or her. This stems from scenarios in game where a the player may be the only one on his team doing poorly and assumes it must be because the other team is going for him or her solely. It is not that they assume they do not have enough experience or skill but that they are being singled out. This is a dangerous rationality and processing.

Another danger lies in the fact that it causes the child to internally break down their own psyche. They begin to assume the universe is suddenly against them which poses many problems. Of course this is not true for all children and players but the ones it does affect can be silently in pain. This is shown in the modern world everyday such as Robin Williams. While of course his death had nothing to do with video games his attitude can be used as a reference point. He is a comedian and actor and spent his whole life making other people laugh and was truly successful. But his overdose and consequent death showed that he was actually depressed and internalizing pain that others could not see because of his personality. The same can be used to loosely describe the effects the video games can have on the children. The internalization of all that emotion can truly hurt the child psychologically when they have all this pent up anger and frustration and the video game then becomes the only crutch they have to release these emotions.

violent video games

This is just one game that been described and was chosen because it sells millions of copies each time a new game is released. There are countless games that portray blood, shooting, stealing, etc. An adult may not influenced by these types of games, but children have been proven with studies, to show aggressive and violent behaviors. Although, parents have the right to raise their kids how they want. They should always monitor the games they play and what they watch. Parents should not encourage or buy these types of games for their children. Violent video games can alter children’s personalities, and that is a proven fact. The violence portrayed in video games can immensely effect children, especially at a young age, when everything they see, they absorb into their brain.

Homeschooling

Gopi Patel

Dating back centuries, children have been homeschooled; some of the most well known cases being the young prince and princes of European monarchies. It started as a necessary means to get young minds educated, since any other formal education was not sufficient. But now, many parents are opting to homeschool their children instead of sending them to public or private institutions.

a parent is most likely to teach their child if homeschooled

The debate between parents on whether homeschooling would or wouldn’t be the smarter option is still present. Popular debate website debate.org has an ever active forum where people are continuing to share their opinions on the topic at hand.

Homeschooling is an outdated practice that should no longer be implemented today. A key part in every human beings life is their adolescence and early education. The relationships we form during this time plays a crucial role in what type of people we grow up to become. This includes the types of interaction we receive with those of similar age, and older figures. By not being in a traditional school setting, and instead being homeschooled, the child is missing out in this interaction with other kids of his age. He’ll never have to learn how to share toys that they’re given; he’ll never have to learn how to cooperate and work well with someone he may not necessarily get along with; and he will never be forced to interact with kids that aren’t exactly like him. This can stunt their development socially as they do not learn to communicate or behave in a group setting. This is obviously a vital skill in living and working as an adult that kids who are homeschooled won’t learn.

An argument can be made that by homeschooling your children, you are able to provide them a better quality education compared to that of either public or private schools. While this can be partially true, it’s only to a certain extent. The “freedom” a parent has on deciding what they want, or don’t want, to teach their child is something regular teachers don’t get the flexibility to do. This causes sometimes purposeful omition of topics a parent finds that they don’t want their child to know. Kids are like sponges, ready to soak up any information that is handed to them. So when a parent relays to them biased information, this could unfairly change their entire viewpoint on controversial topics.

Going back to lessons and skills that kids can receive only from schools, a competitive drive is not found in homeschooled children. A little healthy competition among classmates is a good way to learn how to always strive to be your very best, and that’s something that isn’t taught in a homeschool environment. If a parent is teaching more than one child, they are not going to encourage their own children to compete against one another; because this will carry on into the rest of their day.

As a freshmen, I am still very fond of my high school memories; and many of them involved tennis and my team. Staying back after school ever day and playing with a team that I quickly grew to love changed who I am. The opportunity I was given to join a team and do something after school is a privilege many kids are thankful for. It gives us an extracurricular activity to attend and do something with our lives after 6 hours of studying is over. This same gift is not available to homeschoolers. They don’t have access to after school extracurricular activities like we did.

Also, there is a great danger in homeschooling children is the chance that they will grow up sheltered. When a parent decides what their child learns, more often than not, they will omit some more “gruesome” lessons. Maybe more awkward a parent might not want to discuss sexual or illegal topics with their child. That in turn would impede in their education, thus hindering the progress the child could have otherwise made.

In conclusion, homeschooling is not a good alternative to formal education. It impedes in crucial social skills that children need to develop, and stops them from obtaining that  much needed competitive drive. A wise parent would not homeschool their child.

References

  1. http://www.debate.org/homeschooling/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgHALjra1sU
  3. http://www.homeschoolinfo.org/prosofhomeschooling.htm
  4. http://www.homeschoolinfo.org/consofhomeschooling.htm
  5. http://www.homeschool-companion.com/disadvantages-of-homeschooling.html
  6. http://www.homeschool-companion.com/pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling.html
  7. http://www.publicschools.org/homeschooling-pros-cons/

Why I’m Not Waiting For My Happy Ever After

Growing up as a female in our society, there’s almost no doubt that you have seen a Disney Princess movie. Since the advent of Disney’s film ventures in 1937 with Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, we have been inundated with fairytale after fairytale of princesses and the princes who save them. Based around folktales and legends, these movies were made to give young girls ideals to live up to and warnings of what the world holds. However, in the case of Disney Princesses being good role models to imitate I heartily disagree. While they hold quite a few admirable traits, most of Disney’s leading ladies lack depth in character and plot. They hold to ideals long since recognized as sexist and narrow. They face hardships that most young girls cannot relate to and are rarely representative of the diverse world we live in. There has been strides in the creation of female characters at Disney recently, but we hold fast to old ways still and I cannot just let it go.

Satirical advice from princesses via Cracked.com. Is it really though?

Satirical advice from princesses via Cracked.com. Is it really though?

As you can see in the image above people have already formed opinions about this topic. Those in support of the princesses being role models state that the earlier heroines, if you would call them that, are products of their times and that you cannot change the original fairytales to suit your own purpose. However, I believe that is exactly what Disney is doing. They take the originally dark stories of Charles Perrault, The Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, even historical accounts and put their own twists and morals into them. Many of the original tales are dark in nature with gruesome endings for villains and very few happy endings. Take The Little Mermaid for instance, who gives up her voice and being a mermaid to be with her prince only to have him marry another woman thus killing the mermaid in the process. In another case the story of Pocahontas almost completely devoid of historical accuracy. The woman who was given the title of Pocahontas was never romantically involved with the famous explorer John Smith. She was a girl of twelve at the time of his visit to Jamestown and thus not involved in the talks had between her father and the settlers.

Disney based it’s tale off of the fictionalized stories of John Smith’s travels. (Calloway, Colin G. First Peoples, pg. 103-104)  In these remakes we see Disney’s ideas of what young women should be. Princesses are beautiful, young, innocent women trying to find their way and often it leads them to trouble where they are rescued and fall in love with princes who are virtually strangers. Ariel, for all her curiosity and desire for independence, gives up her voice in order to become human for a man and has to persuade him to fall in love with her with little else than her smile and “body language” as Ursula puts it. Cinderella, the princess of all princesses, finds herself a prince who falls in love with her just by looking at her, only to discover that he cannot recognize her without a shoe. How are these stories of true love and relationships that we should aspire to have?

A popular advertisement for vitamins from 1956.

A popular advertisement for vitamins from 1956.

In reference to the times and culture during the creation of some of these movies, the image above was created in 1956 around the time of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It is promoting vitamins by showing a husband praising his wife for her housework as well as stating that her domesticity is what makes her attractive. This type of ideology was prevalent during the 1950s and 60s. With the expanding middle class and creation of suburbs, the world of June Cleaver was the goal for families. We can see the effects in the emphasis of the home and care taking in both Cinderella and Snow White. The creation of damsels in distress and domestic heroines followed plots where female characters had little control outside of their homes. They were easily persuaded and tricked into dangerous situations and had to rely on men to save them. These women had little to no agency at all.

The problem with dismissing the earlier tales as stories not to change or products of their times is that we still revere them after our society has evolved. Shouldn’t out favorite stories and role models change with us? By accepting them we are saying the oppression and misogyny of those times is somewhat okay. Sleeping Beauty is essentially lied to her entire life by those around her, when if they had told her not to go near any spindles she might not have had to deal with the curse in the first place. Then there is the whole issue of consent when it come to the “true love’s kisses” in both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. What if the first princes to get to them weren’t their soul mates? Would there have been tons of men kissing them while they’re in magical comas? The abject acceptance and passivity in many of these tales are not traits I could ever emulate.

Even the more recent movies have problems. Although movies from the 1990s and forward have much more well rounded characters with aspirations and minds of their own, they still fall back on tropes and cliches that make these princesses hard to swallow as role models. Beauty and The Beast features Belle, an intelligent, well read young woman who dreams of a world beyond her provincial town. However, she ends up having to live with The Beast/Prince Adam in order to save her father. Now finding love in unexpected places is a wonderful thing, but developing feelings for your captor is on a whole ‘nother level. Try Stockholm Syndrome for example. This is psychological disorder that can develop in traumatic situations where captors and hostages develop positive feelings for each other due to the stress put on their bodies and minds.

With other princesses there are issues of representation. The majority of princesses are of Caucasian ethnicities and while there have been major strides with the creation of Chinese, Arabian, and African American women, there is still a need for our society’s diversity to be seen. How about more ethnic diversity, different socio-economic statuses because the majority of these women are born into nobility or end up marrying into it? There could be various orientations and life goals, even more expansive settings as these movies are often set in the past or a fantasy land. A big change would be in beauty standards. Some argue that the active lifestyles and social statuses of the characters allow them to stay slim and good-looking. If princesses were to mirror what the average American woman looks like then they’d be a size 14 rather than the size 2 on screens. Young women could focus on the inner beauty of the spirit and less on the shape and size of the package it comes in.

Essentially, most of princesses of the past and present lack the agency, complexity, and diversity to be productive role models to girls and young women. Some reinforce gender roles and stereotypes. Others present false history. Many of them rely on men and problematic relationships to create their happy endings. All of the portray unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards. The princesses aren’t horrible women and they don’t all have terrible stories to tell. They do lack the depth of character and complex hardships that women of our world face. They cannot be role models if we can never see them as being real women rather than fictional. I would prefer to look to the women around me to find inspiration.

For even more information, check out this video:

Guns Are Not Terrorists

gun-control

No matter what someone’s stance on the gun control debate is, everyone can agree that it has become one of the most controversial topics in America today.  The problem with these differences in opinion is that pro-gun rights activists are responsible, law-abiding citizens who don’t understand why they should have to give up a basic freedom such as their second amendment right, while anti-gun supporters seem to have a lack of knowledge of firearms and live in fear as the media tells them to.  Guns should be legal as they are not the root of any violent act or cause of bad things that happen in the world, they have merely just become a scapegoat in a politically driven extortion thrived by the media.

The majority of people who are for gun control tend to not own or use guns themselves and therefore have a lack of knowledge/understanding of them (such as California State Senator, Kevin de Leon).  They say that they are unsafe, used for evil, and otherwise pointless but anyone who has had experience with guns can tell you that this is untrue.  The majority of people who own guns take care of them (including keeping them safe) and have perfectly valid uses for them such as hunting, protection, or sport.  People with a lack of knowledge on the subject tend to fear them due to stories in the news and a minority of people pointing their finger at something they don’t care about instead of looking at the real problem.  Nowadays information is so accessible, that people allow the media to run their lives instead of thinking for themselves or taking into account large and diverse our country really is.

More and more we hear about alleged shootings of innocents in public places these days basically glorifying the actions of the culprits.  The media portrays these viciously evil acts in a limelight making names such as Adam Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho, or James Holmes ring in our ears constantly giving these people what they may have been looking for to begin with, fame.  In the midst of these blown up tragedies our government representatives use the events as an opportunity for publicity pointing their fingers at the topic of guns.  Guns didn’t wake up one morning deciding to kill a bunch of innocent people, but due to so many of our citizens’ lack of knowledge and densely urban populations, guns are blamed for the event.  Nobody in this country wants to stop playing their growingly violent and realistic video games, tell their kids they can’t see a violent movie with their friends, or discipline too harshly but they have no problem blaming society for their children’s actions and unfortunately in these particular cases, firearms are what they choose to blame.  Blaming guns for a shooting is the same as blaming alcohol for a drunk driver.  People in the media trying to use a tragedy to get a political view across by instilling fear of your family and loved ones is terrorism and gun regulations are just a pawn in a corrupt political gain.

Guns are used for protection which is why our constitution explicitly gives America’s citizens the rights to them.  If someone were to break into your home to do you and your family harm, it is your right to defend yourself and a gun may come in very handy, especially if the invader(s) has a weapon of their own.  Americans owning guns also deters invaders of the nation as a whole as well.  It is not revolutionary times anymore but strategically if our country were to be invaded, then it would give us a much greater tactical advantage to defend ourselves during war.  As Americans we don’t like to face cold hard truths that the world can be a very dangerous place but even a police forum from officers of Ferguson, Missouri warns the public to arm themselves due to fear of extremist aggression and rioting stemming from the Darren Wilson verdict being made public.

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The dangers of firearms with children are only in the eye of the beholder.  Any responsible parent should be able to deter their children from accessing their guns as they should any other equally accident-prone possession such as power tools, vehicles, or sharp objects.  A gun can be unloaded, locked up, and taken apart so if a parent has trouble keeping their kids from having an accident in that sense, then they should be just as worried about them driving their car into a lake or cutting an artery with a chainsaw.  Furthermore it’s better for children to be introduced to guns and taught gun safety at an early age to deter them from the curiosity or untrained usage of them as explained by the 10 year old, Women’s Ruger Rimfire Challenge 2nd place champion’s father, Dan Roberts explains.

Murder in general is a fairly low statistic in human death in our country as it is and not even all murders include firearms.  In fact only about 9,000 deaths per year according to the FBI from 2008-2012 while motor vehicle deaths average over 40,000 per year between 1990 and 2009 according to the census bureau.  Given these statistics, it would make much more sense to outlaw motor vehicles before guns.  The missing statistic in this matter is how many murders have been prevented due to a victim’s possession of a firearm, deterring potential attackers which is hard to measure but is still safe to say that an easier target is more likely to be attacked.

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The legality of guns is also biased towards law-abiding citizens.  Someone who follows the law is not going to break it to get a gun for a legitimate, harmless purpose if guns were illegal but a criminal surely would have no problem getting one to commit what would most likely be a more heinous crime anyway.  Los Angeles and Chicago are known to have the highest rate of gun murders and California and New Jersey in general have the highest murder rates in many of their cities in America and all three of these states have the strictest gun control laws in the country.

Making guns illegal (especially on a national level) is just feeding the criminal industry as well.  Black market products fuel capitol of organized crime so banning firearms will in turn fund criminals and criminal activity.  Just looking at the legalization of marijuana and cartel income in just Colorado and Washington alone shows that black market products influence criminal activity in a major way.  According to the Washington Post, just the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington should reduce the income of the Mexican cartels by about $1.4 billion each.  This loss in revenue over just marijuana should bring revenues of these Mexican cartels down about 30%.  If guns were to be banned in the U.S. there is no telling what kind of growth of illegal organizations would occur from black market sales.

Overall it is absurd to think that gun control is a good idea.  The pros of gun control are mislead and the cons are detrimental to our country as a society and our rights as Americans.  Guns should not be blamed for the actions of people or linked to any misleading statistics to be tangled into political debate.