Thursday, November 11, 2010

13th Post - Anarchism

Recently, I was writing a paper discussing anarchism and Emma Goldman, a famous late 19th, early 20th century anarchist. In my paper, I had to weigh my opinion on my chosen interlocutor's political ideal(s). Anarchism, to me, should be the natural state for man (gender free) to live in. Basically, since the beginning of time, man has organized itself in a way where one or a small group in some way or another control to some degree the lives' of the other men. This pattern has continued in every corner of the world throughout history.

I assuredly understand why this pattern has continued. Look at the societies humanity has created for itself based off the ideals of authority and organization. However, one has to come to the realization that in these kind of systems there will never be complete fairness to all the levels of society. But in these urbanized, industrialized times, is anarchism possible? It is doubtful. Humanity has become to dependent to scrub everything it has become reliant on. We would basically have to live in the animal world, who are the perfect examples of anarchism. How?

The majority of animals, beside humans, organize themselves into packs, prides, pods...some type of familial group, which is usually the most amount of authority resides. Lions don't have presidents, and dolphins don't have prime minsters. The family is responsible for its life and death. They hunt and/or forage for food, they protect their family from other predators, and create a suitable habitat for their families.

When we compare this to how humans behave...humans separate into families, yes, but very large, extended families. Then coworkers, friends, and other acquaintances are added into the social circle. Humans have also created much larger, governmental authorities that, while we like to think we live in a free society, almost completely control our ways of life. In many ways, humanity doesn't just rely on its immediate family for life and death responsibilities. It relies on the companies that make their cars that they are safe to drive to work in the morning. It relies on the companies they work for to provide safe work environments, and to keep them employed to feed their families. They rely on local supermarkets to supply them the food they need for their families.

The web gets more and more complex the more you delve into it. Real estate companies make sure you can buy a house, and supply stores provide you the tools and products you need to fill and finish the house and keep it in good shape. The extent to which humans rely on other humans, particularly authoritative groups of humans, is becoming increasingly frightening.

The disparaging end to this is that humanity right now, is not capable of living independently, certainly not in America or many other first world states, if any. Many people might find this odd coming from me, since I am firm believer in socialism, like the governments we see in Sweden and Iceland currently. I am a firm believer in socialism because I feel that it is the lesser of the evil directions governments can go in. The true nature of man though, should be free. Free from of the control and manipulation of companies, of governments, and of forced societal constructions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

12th Post - Schools and the Labeling Effect

I am posting an assignment for my Schools and Society class, a class that discusses and analyzes the socialization processes schools provide, and the policies that drive schools. The question I am answering is how my ascribed statuses/labels, such as race, gender, age, class, etc. affected my education. Please note that this is my intellectual property and I own all rights to it. Please use correct citation if you would like to use any part of this essay at any time for academic purposes.

There are many things about us that we cannot easily change. Everyone comes into the world already dealt a set of circumstances that will impact them their entire lives. The four major attributions that influence a person’s life are race, gender, class and age. Our culture, as well as most cultures in the world have practiced stereotypes that deal with all four of these characteristics. In the United States, whites are superior to blacks and other racial minorities, men are superior to women, the rich superior to the poor. While age does not have such a general stereotype there are many instances in where one age group is preferable over another (older and experienced versus young and fresh, for example).

When it comes to education, especially public education, these characteristics collide in usually a very nasty way. Going to high school in Maine provides for me very little insight of the inner workings of racial stereotypes in a classroom. Even with two years of public university education under my belt, I have not come to understand this predicament personally very well. My political science experience has lent me knowledge of places like Arizona, a state that makes racial profiling nothing less than law. I can only gather that their education system makes it much harder for students who belong to a racial minority to graduate and become a truly welcomed member of their school.

From my own experience, I can explicitly say females are favored over males at any level of education, which is contrary to the general societal stereotype. In college, younger students are usually preferred over older students. I was born moderately lucky; a white middle class female. My race and gender pushed me into the favored group of education without having to lift a finger. I also made sure that I went to college straight after college, therefore becoming one of the most traditional, average students one could find. I was in the top twenty of my graduating class, got accepted into every college I applied to, carried a 3.6 GPA and was in National Honor Society. For sure, I can thank myself and my brain for getting those things. To a point. I can’t help but sit back and wonder if I were born poor, male, or black (or any combination thereof) if my education would have been different.

While I cannot be completely confident in my assumptions for the future, I can be marginally assured I will have a nice job, possibly with the federal government. I will get married to a white male, probably soon after I finish my Master’s degree. I will have a nice house, with a dog, and one to two children. I will acquire these socially correct objects with many thanks to my education, especially my higher, post-secondary education. I will most likely meet my future partner through school, and make connections to my future career the same way.

To date, I have reached what could be considered the highest academic level that is normal for my age. While I can thank my dedication from studying and classroom participation to my love of reading and intellectual television shows over sitcoms, can’t I also thank my ascribed statuses? I’m white, so therefore I have been favored. I am female, therefore favored and given more attention from teachers from elementary school until now, my junior year in college. I am middle class, therefore I have a nice home and was given the supplies, orderly home, and supportive and attentive parents I needed to succeed. I have always been the correct age for my education level, thus making me the favored normal yet again.

No matter where I go in this country, I will be considered an average American. And apparently, in the education system, that makes me special.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

11th Post - An Open Letter to President Botman

Dear President Botman,

I realize the likelihood of you reading this letter is relatively rare, but I feel as if I must make an effort to write down, and share, my feelings about the University I attend.

First of all, let me introduce myself. I'm a Junior Political Science student, who one day hopes to be a political commentator/columnist, while also lecturing part time. I work 9 hours a week for the English Department as a work-study student. I'm a member of the Student Conduct Committee, and the Political Science Student Association. I am a student at the University of Southern Maine, I'm an employee at the University of Southern Maine, and I'm also involved with bettering the community in which the University of Southern Maine provides.

And I have to tell you, I'm concerned. Mostly I am concerned with the future of the program I plan to get a degree from, the Political Science department. I would hope you, as being University President, would know the POS department very well. Currently we have four (4) professors serving full time, with an adjunct lecturer filling a full time professor's shoes for the Fall 2010 semester. Now I have done the math. There are 390 students who are enrolled in at least one POS class this semester. While certainly this does not rival the English Department who has over 2,000, I am still confused. You are asking the ratio of full time professors in the POS department to be 97.5 students/1 full time professor. That certainly sounds like a lot to me, since the POS department lacks an advising coordinator.

Now I understand that the POS department is small, compared to others like English, Nursing, Business, and Music, but in all reality, does that make us less important? The Nursing, Business, and certainly the Music departments have made their names known for being some of the top programs in their field within the state of Maine. But the POS department is still struggling to get air. It certainly has the hope of gaining the same honor that the departments listed above have received, but to do that it needs attention, funding, and a give-a-damn from the University administration. It is the only public POS program in the state worth attending, in my opinion, which I believe is well shared. Thus it has to compete with the likes of Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby, which is certainly not easy to do. The faculty, including Dr. Francesca Vassallo, Dr. Ronald Schmidt, Jr., Dr. Robert Klotz, Dr. Michael Hamilton and Dr. Mahmud Faksh are well published and, frankly, deserve a department that proves that.

To give you some ideas: Dr. Faksh is on sabbatical this Fall. I have been told by trustworthy sources that originally the department was going to be allowed to hire a visiting professor to fill his place, since he taught several popular courses. The department was not allowed to hire a visiting a professor though, because of funding issues. Thus, four required courses were cut down to offering only one section by other professors (one of them also being a "J" class), and one 300 level elective that was very popular is not being offered at all. Another popular 300 level elective is also not being offered this semester because of professors being stretched so thin. Only one program required course is being offered with more than one section (two), and that is because it is a widely taken "J" course.

This leads, I believe, to several obvious conclusions:
1) it should be the wish of the University's administration for USM's POS department to rival those of Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby,
2) it should be the wish of the University's administration for USM's POS department to offer more than one section of all program required courses, and for it to be able to offer fully each semester's usual course listings.
Thus, several obvious solutions:
1) it should be the wish of the University's administration to gather new talent for the USM's POS department's faculty to offer the correct amount of sections and classes, and allow retirement in a few years to several members of the current full time faculty,
2) it should be the wish of the University's administration to allow curriculum and department changes which would allow POS students to choose a "track" to follow, which almost all POS programs around the country offer, for example: political theory, international relations/affairs, American politics, European politics, Ethics, etc.

Now that you have seen my concerns, conclusions, and solutions, I do hope you will take some of these seriously. You yourself have said that the University is in strong financial shape. I would like you to prove it. Take some initiative, and take a department that is almost floundering, and turn it into the stellar program it could be.


Friday, August 27, 2010

10th Post - New York Mosque Balogna

Hi there. Now, as most of you have gathered by now, I don't like religion. But out of all the major religions, I have to say I favor Islam more than Christianity. This has happened for several reasons. For one, there seem to be much fewer "half-Muslims" then there are "half-Christians." Islam is much more strict, in sense than Christianity, but yet you still see people following many of these rules. Many women still wear a burqa or hijab, or niqab. Many Muslims still follow the rules of no alcohol, and no pork. How many self-proclaimed Christians do we see who don't judge, love their neighbor, and don't cheat on their wife?

I promise I am not trying to categorize people into boxes. But perhaps I am so sick of Christianity because of its two-faced-ness. Yes, Islam has its radicals, but so does Christianity. The Oklahoma City Bombing was carried out by a radical Christian, and how many of these massive cults that make the news come from radical sects of Christianity?

My base point is, no matter how much some of these religious behaviors bother me, in this country you have the right, until a certain point, to practice what you believe. Part or practicing your religion is building houses of worship (for most religions) and going there to practice your faith with other members of that community. The fact that so many people are trying to deny the construction of a mosque near ground zero is not only rude, but unconstitutional. I do see how some people consider it rude, and impolite to build a mosque there, but there is already a mosque there, and they simply want to build a new one in the community they already belong in.

Plus, has anyone looked at the Ground Zero site lately? It's trashed. It's gross. If this is supposed to be a memorial, a place for people to come to remember, mounds of dirt and scaffolding is not going to do the job. It truly worries me that our politicians and citizens are too busy being worried about a religious group trying to practice hope and love and peace (which IS what Islam teaches), than to memorialize a site they consider oh so sacred.

If it wasn't an election year, I truly wonder how different the response, from both sides of the aisle, would have been. We can only wonder, and hope that the Constitution is upheld.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

9th Post - Go to Hell, Bishop Jackson

This post is in response to this article:

Now, full disclaimer on my part...I don't like religion, and I am a full supporter of gay rights. So let the tearing apart commence.

italicized text = Bishop Jackson's points
normal text = my points

"The institution of marriage is unique. It is the one institution that binds women and men together to form a family, and this serves broad societal purposes."
-->Agreed. The institution of marriage is unique and is very important to society. It does create families, and serves broad societal purposes, but how these purposes become ruined when the partners of a marriage are the same sex is still something that, to me, cannot be proved in any sane way.

"The majority of Californians, including two-thirds of the state's black voters, have just had their core civil right -- the right to vote -- stripped from them by an openly gay federal judge who has misread history and the Constitution to impose his views on the state's people."

-->Well now we have issues. Sure, 52%, which was the "majority" that passed Prop 8 is a legal majority. But it's a TINY majority, and of course not every registered voter in the state voted. And I also believe that if the 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote, the majority would have swung the other way. We are still seeing a generation gap in the voting process, and soon enough, that gap will be gone. I also find it interesting that within the same paragraph the black bishop brings up the numbers of black voters, and then continues to talk about civil rights. Um, are you confused? I do believe that it was federal judges and not the process of citizen voting that got blacks the right to vote they deserve, and also ended the horrid Jim Crow laws. Please review your history, sir. OH, and one more note, this "openly federal gay judge" was a Reagan appointee. Yea I am sure he is SO liberal minded.

"The implicit comparison Judge Vaughn Walker made between racism and opposition to same-sex marriage is particularly offensive to me and to all who remember the reality of Jim Crow. It is not bigotry, it is biology that discriminates between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples."
--> I believe I already covered the idiocy of the first part of this statement. Keeping people from legal, state rights over something they cannot change is discrimination. You, Bishop, are black, and you cannot change that. That should not keep you from marrying the partner of your choice. At one point, you were not allowed to. Gay people are gay, and they cannot change that, and that should not keep them from marrying the partner of their choice. And biology? Just because a heterosexual couple has parts that fit together a little better, and that can procreate doesn't mean that is the only way to validate a loving relationship. The common points of couples who cannot conceive, single mothers/fathers, and other such families are fighting back against this idea of procreation creating a family.

"A marriage requires a husband and a wife, because these unions are necessary to make new life and connect children to their mother and father. Judge Walker's decision will not stand the test of time and history. Congress and the Supreme Court must act to protect all Americans' right to vote for marriage."

--> Once again, the bias here against families who simply do not want to have children or cannot have children is frightening. Also, many gay/lesbian families have a myriad of options to have children. Adoption, surrogacy, and sperm donors, there is nothing wrong with these options! In fact, let's take a quick look at the upside. Adoption = less children who don't have families. Surrogacy = a great way for a couple to have a child of their own, while providing a job for a woman who enjoys pregnancy. Sperm donors = well, all that sperm is just sitting there doing nothing... And honestly Bishop Jackson, you don't believe this will stand the test of time? This exact statement was also uttered by people who didn't want women to have the right to vote, one of their main concerns being how the Bible taught that women were not of equal stature to men. It was uttered by people who did not believe that your race should have the right to vote, to not be property, and not have the right to marry who they choose, one of their main pieces of evidence being that the Bible clearly taught them that there was a superior race. I believe the solutions to those problems stood the test of time Bishop, and you should be thankful for it, as I am.

And I understand, Bishop, that your Bible tells you that heterosexual marriage is the only type of marriage. But you need to understand several things you obviously don't: 1) The Bible was written by man, in a time where things were taught very differently than now. 2) Our founding fathers were beyond clear that our founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were in no way based upon a religious ideology, and that they enforce the separation of government created laws and free will of people to practice their own beliefs. 3) Those founding documents stress the equality of all citizens.

I think it is time that you Bishop, open up a book other than the Bible or Texas created textbook and learn about the history of civil rights, including the part about your own race, and how once civil rights are expanded, the United States becomes more of the democracy it is meant to be.

Friday, July 30, 2010

8th Post - Why The Tea Party is Crazy

Let's reveal my bias, first and foremost. I despise the Tea Party. Not just because it's a neo-conservative movement, but because it's a really fucking stupid one. I am tired of seeing "Don't Tread on Me" flags and bumper stickers being flown outside houses and being slapped on vehicles on politically indolent imbeciles who have no appreciation of what that flag means.

So first off, a history lesson! The DTOM flag, also known as the Gadsden Flad, was first flown over 250 years ago. During the period of time we American citizens like to call the Revolution. You know, that REALLY important thing where they decided to kick Britain out of the country and found the United States of America and a centralized government with a constitution with its most important focus being on the freedom of religion? BREATHE. Yeah, THAT.

I am getting some of my information from, the other stuff I just know from paying attention in school and watching the History Channel way too much, if there is such a thing. So, basically, the rattlesnake represents the fact that England was being the biggest bitch possible to us, so Ben Franklin joked that a great way of being bitchy back was to throw some rattlesnakes their way. The "Don't Tread on Me" statement is pretty straightforward. You are over there, we are over here. Leave us alone, or we'll bite you with our venomous fangs.

So why is the Tea Party stupid for using this flag? Because simply, it has nothing to do with their main mission statement of stripping away a strong centralized government, civil rights, and being entirely racist. Sure, you can go look at their website and it all looks fine and dandy. They want fiscal responsibility and a constitutionally limited government. Sweet! But let's look at some things they don't agree with, and then check back with that good ol' Constitution.
Health Care Reform: They don't want government regulated health care because it oversteps the bounds of the government into the private sector. Constitution says: Article I, Section VIII - "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States." Huh, so general welfare? And it should be uniform throughout the United States? Sounds pretty legit to me...
Gay Marriage: They don't like it, cause it's all anti-Christian and that good stuff. Constitution says: Nothing (Except that whole "right to privacy" thing). Interesting. You mean, marriage isn't legally defined as between and woman and a man only?! But it still isn't legal? Weeeeird...
Abortion: Once again, they don't like it cause it kills a bunch of cells that will probably turn out to be another human (like we don't have enough of those already). Constitution says: Nothing, again...(except that whole "right to privacy" deal...again). You mean, abortion isn't illegal?! Oh, and the Supreme Court decided that abortion was legal under the right to privacy statute? This statement sums it up quite well: "The opinion of the Roe Court, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, declined to adopt the district court's Ninth Amendment rationale, and instead asserted that the 'right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.'"

So these THREE major things that the Tea Party stands against, are actually and could actually be easily enforced by the Constitution? The very document they use to further their radical movement? Once the ridiculous contradictions that are the driving force behind this movement are discovered, the Tea Party will hopefully be no more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

7th Post - We Are All Human

Quick question: What do illegal immigrants, gays, women, men, Muslims, and children all have in common?
Quick answer: They are all human.

Which may seem like the obvious answer, of course. But think deeply into it. They are human. Human. HUMAN.
Sunk in yet?

Let's think about it this way. A new family moves in next door. A nice white, middle class family. Two kids and a golden retriever. They seem nice enough. You do your part to welcome them to the neighborhood right? Perhaps bake a plate of cookies, introduce your kids...hey! maybe schedule a play date.

But let's say it happened this way. The new family is Latino and they don't speak a lot of English. They seem frightened and slightly skiddish. What are you first thoughts about them? Do immediately go over and offer cookies and set up a play date, or do you hang back? Something about them just kind of rubs you the wrong way. You can make up excuses for yourself, but the fact remains that, perhaps, part of the fear you feel is that this family is here illegally.

Now, my next question is, what makes a human being illegal? I found a bumper sticker lately that stated "No Human Being is Illegal." And I rather liked it. Why? Because it is without a doubt one of the most honest things I have ever read.

We humans tend to forget that everyone else on this Earth is just like us. We let things like lines on a map and nationalities and documents get in the way of happiness and freedom, and simply LIFE. There is nothing about a single human being that makes them deserving of a life shoved in a third world nation under a dictatorship that strips away everything it means to be human.

We deport people, we tell them they don't belong, they aren't welcome, they aren't one of us. Well, what would? They, if anything, exemplify the true American spirit. The pull yourself up from your bootstraps idealistic view of the world. They come from nothing to try to make something. And they are punished for that. Does anyone truly believe that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin would have asked these people to leave? I think most of you can figure out the answer.

Does illegal immigration cause problems? Of course it does. But not because of the people, but because of the system. Hunting and deportation just pushes illegal immigration more under the rug and forces the immigrants to further hide themselves, and a vicious cycle erupts. And this cycle needs to end, and soon. The better our government handles the onslaught of immigrants, the better our country will fair for all. It is simply a matter of action and reform.

Land of opportunity? My ass.