Athletes Can Speak Out

Possibly the most controversial issue in the U.S. right now, the shooting of Michael Brown has had citizens and the people of Ferguson, Missouri in uproar the past couple months.  As many people know, Michael Brown raised his arms as a gesture meaning “don’t shoot,” but police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown, thinking that his life was threatened in some way, despite the fact that Mr. Brown was unarmed.  Since then, riots and protests have taken place in Ferguson, as well as cities and towns all over the country.  Some believe that Officer Wilson shot as a result of racism, while others believe it truly was because he felt threatened.  Regardless, Officer Wilson was not indicted, which led to violent protests and the National Guard coming to Ferguson to control the riots (Davey and Bosman).  Because of the shooting in Ferguson, the unresolved issue of racism has been the topic of debate throughout the nation.  People all over the country are speaking out about this issue and how they feel, including professional athletes. Continue reading

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It’s The Sound Of The Police

Now more than ever, people have been publicizing and condemning the police brutality apparent in today’s society. Specifically with the Michael Brown case, as well as the Trayvon Martin case two years ago, it seems as though police officers have been growingly misusing their power, often against minorities. Of course, this is just one opinion currently circulating our society, nonetheless the increasing popularity of this opinion should be acknowledged. The question, however, is whether or not this police brutality is a rather new manifestation, or has it been around for longer than we thought?

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Times Change, What’s Right Doesn’t

A picture of Smith and Carlos protesting during the medal ceremony in the 1968 Olympic games.

With the immense popularity of professional sports today, it is no surprise that some athletes use their platform to make statements regarding social and political issues. These statements are oftentimes the issues that impact these athletes the most, from civil rights to political causes, and much more. Athletes are hoping to mitigate problems, and with their high-profile status, they can bring much attention to many issues. Two very similar, notable issues involving 1968 Olympic medal winners and the very recent incident involving St. Louis Rams football players are classic examples of players protesting using the beliefs taught by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Continue reading

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.