Justice in Ferguson

Depending on an individual’s point of view and their own values and background, they might see something differently than someone else. Different people may classify certain actions as being just, while others might claim that those same actions are unjust. So, who really is to say that something is entirely just or unjust in everyone’s eyes?

Last week, the Supreme Court made the executive decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the death of teen Michael Brown. Immediately following the decision, protests and riots erupted in the town of Ferguson. Angry protesters

Michael Brown and Darren Wilson

began setting local businesses on fire, blocking tunnels, and overall causing extreme chaos in the city (Sanchez). That wave of riots then began to spread across the country as more and more people joined in to protest the Court’s decision. The protesters were arguing that the ruling was an unjust act of racism against black teenager Michael Brown. In Ray Sanchez’s “Why Ferguson Touched a Raw, National Nerve,” he writes that, “To them, Ferguson is just the latest reminder that the American criminal justice system doesn’t treat blacks and whites the same — and that young black men in particular are often killed with impunity.” The people of Ferguson strongly felt that the final decision by the court was extremely wrong and unjust. Just as Martin Luther King protested the injustice toward colored people that he had witness in his lifetime, the rioters in Ferguson were fighting back against a ruling that they felt was unjust. Continue reading

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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.

It’s On Us

With the first semester of my freshman year coming to a close, I have learned a lot about myself and what holds true in life. I can confidently say the me that stepped foot on campus in August is different from the modern day me that is traveling back home. College is a once in a life time experience that, we as students are privileged to have. No parents, freedom with our life, and interacting interacting with other intelligent, interesting people what more could one ask for? However with this new stage in our lives, there comes a greater responsibility and accountability for one another. At Michigan, we are a family that supports one another. We all love Michigan and want one another to succeed to give Michigan the reputation it deserves. Therefore we all must try to make each of our experiences the best possible by acting in the standard that Michigan students are held to.

Recently an article in the RollingStone magazine was published about a horrific scene of a freshman girl being sexually assaulted by multiple fraternity boys. In the article it describes how the girl, who went by the name of Jackie, was pressured to keep quite about her assault due to peer pressure to keep the university’s reputation clean. Greek life is a big social aspect at the University of Virginia and this girl felt as if she would be doing a disservice to the school for speaking out about the horrors that took place in a Greek life setting. The article goes into how Virginia has a high regard when it comes to honor, “UVA’s emphasis on honor is so pronounced that since 1998, 183 people have been expelled for honor-code violations such as cheating on exams.” However not one student in the history of the school has been expelled for sexual assault. (http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119#ixzz3KItXu0Ch) Due to this article, Virginia is now one of 86 school under federal investigation due to possible allocations of sexual assault. However Virginia’s case is much more serious with their case being labeled under, “compliance review,” which is “a proactive probe launched by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights itself, triggered by concerns about deep-rooted issues.” The President of the university, Teresa A. Sullivan, has now suspended all Greek life activities for the remained of the semester. However this far from the first time that the University of Virginia has been in the lime light for negative news. A couple years ago there was an incident involving male and female lacrosse player. The two were dating, and one night due to uncontrollable jealousy and alcohol the boyfriend ended up beating Yeardley Love to death.

Throughout our Political Science class we have discussed the importance of social contracts. Whether these contracts are physical or made up through a series of guidelines, they hold importance to both parties that are made to follow it. They hold people accountable to act and behave in a certain manner. Now some relationships it is unnatural to have a written contract in order to attain a stable relationship. But those are relationships that have no place for contracts, but rather have guidelines develop in a more natural series of experiences.

Recently I took the pledge to the, “It’s On Us,” campaign which promotes awareness and communal promise to protect against sexual assault. After discussing social contracts and viewing this article from RollingStone, I realized I had created a social contract through signing up for this campaign. I now realize that through this I have a obligation to uphold for those who I promised my word to. If i fail to uphold the guidelines that this campaign has set than I will be letting down the party on the other end of this contract. The “It’s On Us,” movement has begun to catch national attention with the support of partners such as bing, the Big 10, and other high end organizations the word has been spread. This has become a nationally available contract for any person to become apart. It is for a good cause that can help put an end to terrible events like those that have taken place at the University of Virginia. To sign up and take the pledge visit http://itsonus.org/, every name on the list helps stop sexual assault. Help make Michigan a place where one doesn’t have to worry about assault. For Michigan should be a safe place and home for whoever wears the block M on their chest.

A Visible Power for the Commonwealth

When do words possess authoritative quality? At what point can we differentiate a simple promise from a formal contract? These are just some of the questions that arose when I thought about the “social contracts” that Thomas Hobbes mentioned in his book, the Leviathan. The portion of the Leviathan that I will be referring to is titled “Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Commonwealth” (Chapter 17). The arguments and philosophies presented in this chapter were intended by Hobbes to describe the necessity of sovereign institutions for peace and security. Hobbes insisted that a visible power(s) needed to be exist in order for humans within their regions to be free from the condition of war. The condition of war is a term coined to describe the natural state of humans to preserve their own lives against his/her enemies; in this state, all other beings are considered enemies. A consequence of this state would be that no person would have security no matter how adept they were.

Original copy of the Leviathan. Credits to Wikimedia Commons.

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Land Mines

Imagine yourself walking through a minefield, and with every step you take you risk losing your life. While this example is a little dramatic, I’m sure you can picture that familiar nervous feeling of your palms moistening and beads of sweat beginning to form on your forehead. Your breath shortens and your heartbeat picks up as you are about to take some risk or embark on an adventure. Continue reading

Traditions That Shouldn’t Be Upheld

Edmond Burke argued that tradition is a great thing and that traditions cannot be disrupted or a nation will fail. He argues that once tradition is eliminated, people no longer know which direction to take. Some traditions should be maintained in the United States such as the basic ideals of freedom and equality. However some traditions have dated since the passing of laws in the late 1700’s. The Second AUS-still-divided-on-passing-stricter-gun-control-lawsmendment of the United States Constitution states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” While this law was effective years ago, there doesn’t seem to be the traditional need to carry weapons as the United States, has thankfully not fought a war on our soil in over a century.

Sure modifying this amendment would confuse some citizens as Burke suggests change would however I believe that this nation is capable and mostly willing to adapt to not being able to purchase semi-automatic weapons. These have been responsible for the Newtown School Shooting, Columbine and the tragic event at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. I am not suggesting that all weapons be eliminated because being a free nation and citizens having the right to protect them is important. However I don’t believe that automatic assault weapons need to be in the hands of the average American citizen. We pay taxes in order for our military to protect us from enemies that capable to need these weapons.

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A Contract for What?!

Having been intrigued by the question, “Thinking of your own life, what types of relationships would you want to be regulated by a contract?” I immediately thought of the obvious: strictly professional relationships. Duh, any place of work needs a set contract in order to maintain order and efficiency within the business. But when my peers started answering with things like, “relationships, marriage, and families,” it surprised me.

First of all, what even is a contract? As defined by Hobbes in the Leviathan, contracts are “a mutual transferring of right.” He emphasizes that within the state of nature, everyone has the right to everything, except for the limited rights that the civil society creates. We all have natural contracts with each other, kind of like a give-and-take relationship. Does that mean everything is a social contract? When looking at the dictionary definition, Google says a contract is “a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.” After reading that definition, my mind automatically goes towards employment and businesses, just like it says. So why have a contract within a relationship? A contract for a marriage too? Is a contract only a contract if it’s enforceable by law?

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