Activism From Professional Athletes

Where Are the Jocks for Justice” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier took a look into Adonal Foyle’s battle to change the current political system. When most athletes were spending money to rebuild playgrounds or schools, or visiting sick children in the hospital, Foyle was running a grassroots group called Democracy Matters. Democracy Matters wanted to educate children about politics, push them to vote, and bring pressure to change the current political system. Foyle clearly wanted to make a change in society and earned a lot of praise for his battle against the political system. However, not all professional athletes have been given the same praise. Continue reading

Consequences of Actions from Professional Athletes

Where Are the Jocks for Justice” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier took a look into Adonal Foyle’s battle to change the current political system. When most athletes were spending money to rebuild playgrounds or schools, or visiting sick children in the hospital, Foyle was running a grassroots group called Democracy Matters. Democracy Matters wanted to educate children about politics, push them to vote, and bring pressure to change the current political system. Foyle clearly wanted to make a change in society and earned a lot of praise for his battle against the political system. However, not all professional athletes have been given the same praise. Continue reading

School Uniforms and The “Experiment of Living”

A Group of Students Wearing Uniforms.

A Group of Students Wearing Uniforms.

School uniforms are one of the topics that has been widely debated for as long as I can remember. Growing up and going to a public school on Long Island in New York, I was not forced into conforming and wearing these uniforms on a daily basis. On the flip side, I had a great number of friends who attended private school for high school and were required to abide by a strict uniform policy on a daily basis. Upon talking to many of these friends, the results were interesting to me as there was a split between the amount of people who didn’t mind wearing the uniforms and the people who totally disliked wearing them. I began to wonder what life would be like going to school and having to abide by guidelines set by an institution, enforced no differently than the policy on cheating in class.

A USAToday Study on Uniforms.

A USAToday Study on Uniforms.

In order to take a closer look at the issue of school uniforms, I began to research the legality of

uniforms and noticed that more than twenty different states have legalized and authorize schools to implement uniform policies. In addition, accoring to a study completed by USAToday, the percentage

of public schools that are using dress codes has spiked almost 10% in the last 10 years from 47% to over 57%. After further consideration and thought, I wondered, “What effect are these uniforms having on the children of America?”

A possible result of uniforms stems from the philosophy of John Stuart Mill as he discusses the idea of individuality in his piece titled On Liberty and more specifically in chapter three titled “Of Individuality, as one of the Elements of Well-being“. In this text, Mill touches on the idea that humans require trial and error to succeed and individuality provides “experiments of living”. In addition, Mill explains that in order for a person to live and have a sense of self, individuality is of the upmost importance. While people should be educated and everybody have to opportunity to accumulate similar knowledge of human experience, it is extremely important that humans have the ability to take the experience and knowledge they have acculated and do what they choose with it. People should never be forced into making certain choices and have to follow a pre-determined path because it would destroy their individuality and contribute to the destruction of human progress. This is extremely important and can be directly related to the concept of school uniforms.

In an effort to help rid schools of distractions and provide a better learning environment, schools have instituted dress-codes and uniforms that every student must abide by. It is very easy to argue

People Dressed As Inmates.

People Dressed As Inmates and Conforming.

that by telling students what to wear, schools are effectively removing a students sense of individuality and hurting human progress. No longer are students able to express how they feel though their clothes and are almost placed into a jail-like state of conformity with the other students. Clothing is used by people to express how they feel, their sense of style and in many cases their social status. By ridding these people of self-expression, they are no longer receiving the experience that comes with dressing the way they feel expresses themselves and removes an avenue of individuality.

The problem with school uniforms lays in the concept of controlling a person’s individuality as a whole. While the control of clothing does not totally remove a student’s ability to express how they feel and differentiate themselves in a school setting, it does open the avenue of further limiting the way in which a student can stand out in the crowd of hundreds of other students. If it is forcing people to wear a certain code of dress today, could limiting speech in the classroom be next? It is hard to predict the extent of which schools will attempt to rid students of their individuality in the future, but according to Mill, nothing good will come out of sucking individuality out of the American youth.

Mill’s Thoughts about the Violence

A big focus in the news right now has been the shooting of Michael Brown. Ever since this event took place on August 9th, 2014, the media coverage has continued to grow extensively. As the trial finally came to an end on November 24th, the grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Everyone has questioned whether this case has been properly handled in the justice system. This decision has caused chaos and many protests all over the country. These protests have been both peaceful and violent. Some are outraged not only because a police officer has shot an unarmed civilian but also because they believe law enforcement institutions are failing to protect. All this chaos has even caused Darren Wilson to resign in hopes that it would help calm the people and protect others as well.

Wilson's resignation letter

Wilson’s resignation letter

As the frustration of the public continues to grow, so does the violence. Violent protest efforts include rallies, arrests, riots, shootings, fires, and many other forms of protests. Ferguson, MO is not the only town that has been emotionally reeling from this tragedy. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and many other cities have seen expressions of protest.

Protester getting arrested

Protester getting arrested

John Stuart Mill’s book “On Liberty”, discusses many topics such as proper behavior, vices, virtues, social values, and individuality. John Stuart Mill believed that if someone did something you did not approve of or that you disagreed with that it is okay and sometimes beneficial to argue with that person. However, violence should be avoided and should never be used to get your opinion across. Therefore, I believe that, regardless of his possible view on the shooting, Mill would advocate against violence. Mill states that people should have the freedom to express their opinions so he would urge peaceful protests. However, he strictly states that no harm can come to others while expressing an opinion and these protests have caused more harm all over. Things have been destroyed, such as property damaged, people getting hurt, and much more.

An example of peaceful protesting

An example of peaceful protesting

The violence must come to an end. Even Michael Brown’s parents and President Obama have urged protestors to remain peaceful. As said by Mill, it is possible for these protestors to get their opinion to the public without using violence  Everyone has the right to protest and express his or her opinions and feelings. Those having peaceful protests with signs have the right to do that as long as no harm comes to anyone. However, there is a line between acceptable forms of protest. Although people are free to express their thoughts, once harm comes to others, this line has been crossed.

The Lasting Effects of Marxism in Berlin

The Berlin Wall (via WikiMedia)

This past month marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since construction began in 1961, the Berlin Wall has stood as a symbol for oppression and division. The wall originally divided the Capitalist occupied West Berlin from the Communist occupied East Berlin. The two sides had been divided by the allies t the end of the Second World War. Each side saw the other as the enemy, and the armed guards and security checkpoints lining the wall were a constant reminder of the tensions of the Cold War. Many tried to escape over the wall during its 28 years dividing Berlin, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries. The wall finally fell in 1989, as Germans on both sides chipped their way through and celebrated. This proved to be the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union, one of the last true Communist states.

Building the Wall (via WikiMedia)

Building the Wall (via WikiMedia)

While the wall came down 25 years ago, there is still a sense of separation in Berlin. The new unified German government had big plans for the city, but these never quite came into fruition. The city lost population, and lost much of its identity as the wall was destroyed. The hatred of Communism in the West led to the destruction of much of East Berlin, a scar that has not been erased with time. The two Germanys were distinct and each had their own history and character. The hasty attempts to eradicate Marxism had a much different effect than what was anticipated. Rather than bringing the two Berlins and the two Germanys together, they have been kept markedly separate.

East Germany was forced to accept West German customs, including currency and national traditions, continuing the oppression that they had felt under Communist occupation. While it came from a new source, the feelings of division still existed. Rather than a physical wall, there was an invisible wall erected between the Germans and the rest of the world. Foreign governments once again worried about the power of a unified German state. Unification brought about bigger issues than it solved. Now there was an economic and governmental burden here, as well as a social burden for former East-Berliners who were often treated with reproach.

(via the Associated Press)

Most of the wall has now dissapeared, and rather than serving as a historic warning against the faults of the Cold War, the efforts to push it aside remind many of the problems it symbolized. There are few parts left standing in their original places (like the one pictured on the right), but most have been removed or taken as souvenirs. Berlin has surely changed since the wall came down, and some of the immediate negative effects are no longer as visible, but the city and the country have not been restored to any sort of former glory. The effects of Communism and division are rooted too deep, and the efforts to bury them have not succeeded.

Individuality and Violence

One of the most important things in life is maintaining a sense of individuality.  It’s important to not only feel different from others, but also to be different.  One can establish individuality throughout a series of choices, actions, and thoughts that best pertain to that specific individual.  Without diversity, society would be stagnant.  There would be no new innovations or new ways of thinking if everyone always thought and acted in the same ways.  However, it is crucial to have certain limitations on the way in which people can exercise their sense of individuality in order to keep everyone safe and protected. Continue reading

What has Happened to North Carolina?

If anyone has been paying attention to domestic legislative politics through a recent cloud of international uprisings, highly publicized trials and gun wielding football players, one particular development stands markedly out from the rest. It’s happening in the state of North Carolina and it stands to reverse the political direction of a state who’s trajectory appeared to be locked in but a few short years ago. Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan discusses his belief that unless power is vested in one commonwealth, something that I believe can be incorporated into today’s gun control laws on the federal level. gun-control How North Carolina managed to transform itself from one of the quickest growing progressive states in the country, along with neighbor Virginia, to the poster-child for a conservative social agenda is one for the history books. Continue reading

Gender Norms In Sports

There are gender norms today that exist in athletics. One gender norm that shows in athletics is women sports are inferior to men sports. Women are not as physical as men. Women sports are more feminine and more sexualized than men. Their sports are not as popular. Unlike in male sports, they are more physical and more popular than women sports. In women sports, there is less competition. ESPN only shows women sports if it’s a big game or a championship game. Unlike for men, basically every game is televised.

The National Women’s Law Center explains Title IX as “the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive federal funding — including in their athletics program.” In today society in general equal rights and women’s rights are important and they are politically very hot topics. In sports, women rights have gradually increased over time because of Title IX.

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Mill Would Support Our Stoners

First person to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado

For decades the United States has spent billions of dollars and put millions of people in jail in an effort to fight the sale and use of illegal narcotics. The most popular of these drugs is marijuana. In 2012, almost 19 million Americans used marijuana, which is about 5% of the entire population. With minimal side-effects and such widespread use, we have to ask, why is marijuana use illegal. In his book On Liberty, author John Stuart Mill argues that society should only prohibit actions that are harmful to the rest of society, and that actions that only harm the individual should be allowed. However, this is not how the United States operates. Dozens of drugs have been made illegal for recreational use, including marijuana. If Mill ran the country, stoners and potheads would rejoice, because marijuana would surely be legalized.

In his book, Mill suggests that society only has the right to use force against actions that are harmful to others. In the case of marijuana, Mill would consider this as a “self-regarding vice” because it only affects the person who is using the drug. The same would go for things like alcohol and tobacco, which are, in fact, legal in the United States. However, after learning about the negative effects of secondhand smoke, many enclosed areas like restaurants and office buildings prohibit smoking because of its negative effects. This ideology is very consistent with Mill’s ideas because tobacco is only prohibited when it affects others in society. In those cases, society is allowed to step in and use force, according to Mill.

But marijuana doesn’t have many secondhand effects. The drug only affects the person using it, so why is it illegal? Not only does it conflict with Mill’s ideas, but it is actually a huge missed opportunity for the United States. According to a report from GreenWave advisors, if marijuana were legalized in all 50 states, the market for the drug could be worth as much as $35 billion. Colorado passed Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and over, and the law has been extremely successful.

The success of this new law shows that Mill’s ideas, when put into effect, actually work quite well. Not only are people allowed to use marijuana freely, but the economic and tax benefits are extended to all the citizens of Colorado with no foreseeable negatives. John Stuart Mill would certainly support Colorado Amendment 64, and he would also support federal legalization of marijuana. But Mill wouldn’t just stop there.

According to Mill, any self-regarding vice, no matter how harmful, should be allowed without societal interference. So, this would suggest that any type of narcotic should be allowed to be used recreationally. This would allow for the use of heroine, cocaine, LSD, and many more illicit drugs. While in theory this idea of allowing all self-regarding vices makes sense, in practice, it seems that we have to draw the line somewhere. As a society, we don’t want to allow all drugs because many of them are far more harmful than others. So we should take Mill’s advice with a grain of salt. But as far as marijuana, Mill’s ideology would help our society.

Immigration Reform: How Ideological Differences and One Piece of Paper Will Prevent The Deportation of Five Million Immigrants

President Obama Announcing His Executive Order To The Nation

President Obama Announcing His Executive Order To The Nation

As many of you probably heard by now, President Obama just signed Executive Order 13682 which will move forward immigration reform after nearly six years of debate. In my last blog post, I talked about how the huge divide between the Democrats and Republicans has resulted in more then six years of constant gridlock in the lawmaking process and immigration reform is not excluded. President Obama has been threatening Congress for quite some time now to work out an immigration bill or he will be forced to use an executive order. In my Political Science class we talked about Niccolo Machiavelli, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill and it is interesting to see how certain values of these philosophers show up in the immigration debate and why it has led to immigration being such a controversial issue.

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