I am tired of people who wish to argue or debate but cannot make the effort to support their viewpoints with unbiased evidence. They simply regurgitate information that they hear on radio and television or read on the internet and in newspapers without looking for bias and bothering to educate themselves or understand the issues further. The irony is that as we grow up, we make every effort to provide strong, well-substantiated arguments to our parents and others as to why we should be able to do certain things like drive the car. We struggle against their viewpoints so that we may develop our own. But as adults, many of us are simply willing to adopt someone else’s argument as our own rather than expend the energy- either because we don’t have it or we choose not to use it.
If you want to present a valid argument, you should be able to do two things:
1. Prove that you understand the issue AND
2. Be able to use or apply supporting points/ evidence in ways that go beyond what you read or hear.
Politicians and campaigns are very good at suppressing and manipulating information to serve their purposes. That is where the individual must be responsible for sorting through evidence to come to a fair and objective conclusion. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming and tiring to do so. Sometimes it is downright confusing. Nevertheless, the individual who does not truly understand the issues (beyond reciting information from the media) easily falls victim to logical fallacies and misdirection- a tactic widely used in campaigns. To complicate matters, individuals have a tendency to identify with a person or “team” (ie. democrat, republican), and they then take cues on their positions from someone influential in that team. Some become extremely loyal and refuse to entertain anything outside of that circle. This leads the individual to accept arguments and evidence consistent with the position without being critical and to reject opposing arguments and evidence without understanding them. Even the wisest individuals are susceptible to this.
The key is to THINK for yourself. Resist the urge to side with the “team.” Be aware of tricks. Understand and consider the evidence. Come to your own conclusion. In order to do all of this, educate yourself about the claims that anyone makes, no matter what side of the issue. Ask yourself: How much of it is biased? Is there any missing or misdirected information? Question everything and learn as much as possible before coming to a conclusion.
I don’t care which side of the issue you take as long as you can have an educated and passionate discussion that is devoid of insults and epithets. Be reasonable and civil. Prove to me that you can think beyond what others say. Show me that you care enough to understand and know the issues, making the argument your own rather than a recitation of someone else’s talking points. If you can do those things, you may very well bring something new to light that I hadn’t known. You may even succeed in convincing me to consider more or think differently.
Please bear with me as this post is a work in progress. Today I am attempting to let my hair down, relax on the research, and express a viewpoint. I have limited time and focus as the animals, children, and husband are circling around me. To make things even more hurried, I have a commitment to be somewhere soon. So, I am going to hurry and spit it out.
I read a good amount of material, and I read often. Unfortunately, I usually end up spending more time reading the comments following an article rather than focusing on the article itself. The reason being that I am often shocked and taken back by the amount of negative and derogatory terms used. People who write in the comments section rarely have anything substantial or intelligent to add. Usually it is a brief harangue filled with vicious attacks. I would even go so far as to say that the posts border on hatred.
Rarely is this hatred focused on one individual or idea. It is often a fountain of expletives and poorly written insults against another group. It is what I would consider political racism between republicans/conservatives and democrats/liberals. I am not implying that intelligent people capable of disagreement and literate discourse are the perpetrators here. I am simply suggesting that the many illiterate, bigoted, intolerant, and hypocritical respondents have little to offer except regurgitated epithets that are often inflammatory and unjustified. It makes me wonder how many people in America actually think and act in this way. It scares me to realize that there are people in America who think and act this way. I am not suggesting my own superiority as I do not feel that way. I do not propose that my style of expressing myself is any better than any other. Nevertheless, I do expect a certain amount of decorum from people, especially adults. And I would like to think that Americans are capable of more than overused slang and vulgarities.
I am beginning to work on a list of derogatory terms as I stumbles across them. Feel free to send me any you have seen. I will continue to add to the lists. As I said, this is a work in progress.
This immediate period following the tragedy in Colorado should be a time for personal reflection, empathy, and expression of support, not fuel for anyone’s political agenda
Before I begin, I would like to pay a small tribute to one of the victims who lost her life Friday night. I think it serves to remind us that these were real people with real lives, and tragedy (and in this case irony) are not strong enough words to describe the loss of these lives. She wrote a poignant piece on her own blog about the gift of life, “ After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given” (**). Rest in Peace Jessica (Redfield) Ghawy .
As is true of many Americans, the recent shooting in a Colorado movie theater has rocked my world. No, I do not have any personal connections to the city of Aurora. I did not know any of the victims or witnesses. But as a living, breathing human being, I still feel intense grief and shock. I am horrified by the details as they emerge. How can one individual so callously end the lives of 12 people and harm numerous others? How can so many innocent people attending a movie screening end up in a situation like this? What if it had been me or someone I loved?
Whenever such a thing happens, these questions come to mind, as they should. Horrible events serve to remind us that we are mortal beings, often vulnerable to tragic circumstances. There is no way to explain how or why, which creates even deeper pain and fear in many people’s minds. And despite our best efforts, there is no way possible to explain away the pain and fear or understand it. It is an irrational act by an irrational individual and defies all logic. Period.
Yesterday, as I watched the news, I found myself at a loss for words. I was filled with a profound sadness and even shed some tears as I listened to witness accounts on the news. I am not a religious person. Nevertheless, my heart still filled with sympathy, and I said a few silent prayers for those who were directly affected. What else could I do?
I expect that many Americans felt the way I did. I believe that we all were doing a little soul-searching and reflecting on our own lives and loved ones. I was pleased to see that the majority of our local and national leaders made it a priority to set aside their political agendas to extend condolences and express deep sympathy to the people of Aurora. Both Obama and Romney suspended campaign efforts, set aside their negative attacks, and kept their responses short and devoid of blame or negative rhetoric. Many other officials echoed the sentiment. I read through 57 comments gathered by the Huffington Post (4), and each expressed deep-felt sympathy. This is the way it should be in the wake of a national tragedy. It provides some measure of comfort to the American people and shows respect for those affected. Nevertheless, not all leaders followed suit. There were some who decided to take advantage of a tragedy to serve their own political agenda less than 24 hours afterwards. They could not even wait for 24 hours!!! This to me is vulgar, disrespectful, and just proves how callous and insensitive these individuals/ groups are.
A prime example of this is one politician who has proven again and again that he is a selfish, narrow-minded zealot, Michael Bloomberg. The man could not wait to espouse his view and barely acknowledged any of the victims before launching into his diatribe. He was joined by the mayor of Boston and the president of the Brady Campaign.
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how.”
— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (1)
In a press release issued by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote, “The fixes are easy and they are common sense. It’s about enforcing existing Federal laws and making sure we don’t let criminals buy weapons. We need to put a background check on all sales and require states to step up their reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make sure we have a check that works. Maybe this will finally wake up Washington.” (2)
“As someone who has suffered the lasting impact of gun violence, and president of Brady (Campaign), I can tell you that we don’t want sympathy. We want action. Just this past April 16, the anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history, 32 victims of gun violence joined us to demand Congress take action to stop arming dangerous people.”
—— Dan Gross, president of Brady Campaign (1)
The only question I ask is WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Why is it so difficult to allow at least 24 hours to pass before attempting to turn this into a measure for gun control? It is one thing for Americans to express their opinions and feelings, but these are supposed leaders. I call them “supposed” because in my opinion this type of behavior shows a lack of true leadership in a time of tragedy.
Just to illustrate, here are a few examples of how some who very strong viewpoints on gun control did not abuse this event to make a point. They took the higher ground, and in my opinion, showed true respect.
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is a member of a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but when he issued a statement expressing shock and horror on Friday after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, he had nothing to say about gun control” (3).
“The NRA said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known.” (3)
Some other thoughts to support how inconsiderate and brash the comments from Bloomberg, Menino, and Gross are the following comments:
“Moreover, it often isn’t immediately apparent what gun laws would have made a difference in specific cases” (3)
” ‘When there’s a crime such as this, it often takes a few days of police work to figure out if a gun loophole has been evaded to cause the crime or if there has been a hole in the gun laws to allow someone to get the guns,’ he [Jim Kessler] said” (3).
(**) Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting
(1) Condolences, calls for action among national reaction to deadly Colorado theater shooting
(2) MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS STATEMENTS ON AURORA SHOOTING
(3) Colorado shooting unlikely to spur changes in gun laws
(4) Shooting In Aurora, Colorado Sparks Outpouring Of Political Reaction
On the Tragic Shooting in Aurora, Colorado
Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor, Reacts To Colorado Shooting
Video: Mike Bloomberg Calls on Candidates to Address Gun Control
There are many disturbing teen trends these days. We are made more aware of it by the easy accessibility of social media. However, perhaps the most disturbing to me is the growing issue of groups of teens who are acting out in public venues with absolutely no regard for others. Their actions vary from civil disobedience to theft and violent beatings of innocent people. One of the most disturbing factors to me is the brazenness of the individuals involved and the lack of any productive consequences.
This is not a new trend. It has been happening more and more over the past couple of years. Nevertheless, there is so little coverage by the media that stories remain local, which gives the impression that the incidents are not very common and only happen in certain areas. After I did a little research, I found that this is simply not true. There are stories from all over the country. One individual has complied a timeline and list of events with links to sources. It is quite an eye-opener. I have read through some of the stories for myself and posted links to examples below. To see the full list go to violentflashmobs.com.
Yes, throughout American history there have been riots, mobs, and protests dating back to the 1800’s (the Anti Abolitionist Riots and New York City Draft Riots). Some had a purpose such as during the civil rights movement. Some were violent such as those in L.A. after the Rodney King beating. Some defy logic such as those that occur after a big celebration following a national playoff game (ie, Montreal mobs loot stores after Game 7 win in the NHL playoffs). Nevertheless, one common denominator that all of these events have is some instigating factor; whereas, teen mobs in current events are mostly random, without purpose or direction, and carried out by young people.
I cannot even begin to speculate about the cause or nature of this type of behavior. Is this is sign of our deteriorating society? Is it one of the negatives of advances in technology? Is it symptomatic of something sinister? Who knows? It is easy to blame the immature thinking and behaviors of teens, racial factors, parenting problems, and pop culture. Obviously there is a larger issue at hand, one that should create deep concern within all Americans, black, white, urban, suburban, etc. It is not just a problem in one city or within one cultural group. It is something that has the potential to affect us all. Something that could instantly alter a life, or many lives, forever.
**On a side note, I wanted to also express my disgust and concern with the blatantly racist comments left on some of these websites, especially Youtube. In my opinion, it is inexcusable and deplorable behavior of the worst kind, and shows just how ignorant people can be. (i.e. “Crackerazz honkeys “, “No wonder those monkeys were actin’ all da’ foo’!”, “lazy entitled ghetto trash.”, “yall white trailor trash azz”). SIMPLY APPALLING!
Here is a brief list of some other incidents that have occurred around the country. Some involve violence, and some do not.
On June 31, 2011- Pittsburgh
Police: Teens Leave Church Picnic To Riot In East Liberty
On September 10, 2011- Minneapolis
“Mini-riot” in downtown Minneapolis caught on tape
On December 26, 2011- Bloomington, Minnesota
Moving melee causes chaos at packed Mall of America
On March 23, 2012- Miami
Trayvon Martin Protesters Ransacked North Miami Beach Walgreens
On May 23, 2012- Baltimore
Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries To Stop Them
On May 27, 2012- Milwaukee
Amateur video shows teenage brawl on North Ave. near McDonald’s
On June 16, 2012- Troutdale, Oregon
Police: Group of teens ‘flash robbed’ grocery store
On June 18, 2012- Detroit
Detroit gas station beating caught on tape
FOR MORE EXAMPLES VISIT
- Smash mob causes havoc at WalmartYouTube video shows teens throwing food, merchandise around store
- 300 Black Teens Flash Mob Florida Walmart $1,500 in Goods Stolen!
- 300 Black Teens Storm Florida Wal-Mart
- Hundreds of teenagers storm Walmart in criminal flash mob (VIDEO)
- ‘Smash mob’ with THREE HUNDRED wreaks havoc on Wal-Mart as teenagers fire gunshots, throw food and rob the store
- Teen Mobs Terrorize Shoppers in Florida, Oregon
- Philly mayor chides black parents over teen mobs
- Teenage Mobs: A Rising Epidemic
- Are teen mobs the next wave of urban unrest?
- MARAUDING MOB OF 50 TEEN-AGED GIRLS BEATS DOWN 2 NYC COPS
- Surveillance Pictures Released In Mob Attack On CTA Red Line
Listen up Americans. You are too fat and stupid to make your own decisions, so we will do it for you.
One of the current news headlines “New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks” makes me shake my head, throw up my hands in despair, and sigh most emphatically. I see it as yet another attempt to regulate American life (for the supposed good of society). Rather than advocate personal choice and responsibility, politicians are again sending Americans the implied message that we are either too stupid or simply incapable of knowing what is and what isn’t good for us. They know that most will only listen to the rhetoric, however biased or misleading it may be, instead of forming educated opinions. And no matter what spin anyone puts on this issue, it is really just another overstep by officials to dictate American choice.
Throughout history, there have been many efforts to help foster a healthier society. ” Federal regulation of the industry began on a large scale in the early twentieth century when Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906″(4). Most food regulation is for good reasons such as avoiding the adulteration of food and drug products that could pose health risks for consumers. In 2008, New York became the first American city to require that restaurants publish the calorie content of their items on menus (5), and despite protestation from critics, it has become somewhat of a standard throughout America today. Even the current trend towards public smoking bans seems reasonable. In all of these instances, the regulations and laws work to inform consumers so that they may make educated choices in regards to their own health and to protect non-smoking individuals from exposure to possibly toxic factors such as second-hand smoke. However, I believe that there is a difference between these types of regulations and the more recent attempts to control what Americans eat and drink, all under the guise of public health.
Some of the more recent items banned in some cities and states (California and New York leading the way) have been trans fats, table salt, and food trucks. Even froi gras is now on the chopping block in California (8). Other efforts are not direct bans or regulations of food, but have a similar approach such as a ban on toys in kid’s meals in California (9). Supporters and politicians claim that all of these things are in the public’s best interest. “Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes” (10) . Too much sodium can lead to problems with high blood pressure and heart disease. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In regards to large sodas, Walter Millet states that “High intake of these beverages (the standard 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar) increases the risks of obesity and diabetes and is clearly unsafe for anyone” (1) .
According to an online debate, 65% of respondents argue that the government should NOT regulate fast food (12). Although this is an informal site and bears no significant recording of public opinion, it is an insight into how people feel about the issue. There are arguments for and against, and it is always productive to see both sides of an issue. One of the the things that bothers me about some of the responses is what I believe is indicative in much of our current society. Individuals do not attempt to do the research on their own in order to form educated and informed opinions. I mean, why bother to read the research and learn about the science behind the issues? It is time consuming (as I can verify through the amount of time it has taken me to complete this post). Much of the information is contradictory and confusing, especially when it comes down to interpreting statistical data. And honestly, it is just that much easier to listen to what we want to hear in order to support our own opinions. So maybe the government is right and we are just too stupid- or at least too lazy- to make our own choices. At the very least this is what these public officials are counting on.
There are several things that I have come across in my “research” that demonstrate to me how much rhetoric plays a factor over actual evidence.
For example, one of the claims in support of the soda ban is the idea that high consumption increases the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes. Well, I suppose that could be true if one wanted to generalize. But so can a high intake of funnel cakes and cream puffs, and I don’t see anyone discussing the perils of those food items. Since this is one of the main arguments for the ban, I searched to find out exactly what role sugar consumption plays. Ironically I learned that “The American Diabetes Association doesn’t even mention sugars in its 2008 nutrition recommendations for preventing diabetes. Instead, it concentrates on “energy”. Excessive energy intake of any sort – whether from starch or sugar, fat or protein – will eventually produce obesity, which is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes (the most common from of diabetes)” (11). So the argument proponents (see Walter Millet) make is a faulty, or at very least misleading, one. Sugar does not cause obesity or type-2 diabetes. It is simply one of many factors in an unhealthy lifestyle that pose a risk. I found a similar problem with the argument for banning salt from tables and food preparation in restaurants. The rhetoric focuses on how salt consumption is unhealthy. However, rather than also discussing how a little salt is healthy and necessary, especially iodized salt, the public is lead to believe that salt in general is bad. According to WebMD, ” Too little salt — iodized salt, that is — is dangerous, too” (13). Iodine is important for thyroid function and brain development. Americans are taking in less iodine now than they did years ago. And most people are not aware that ” Sea salt and most salt substitutes are not iodized. Unless fruits and vegetables are grown in iodine-rich soil, they will not contain iodine” (13). Therefore, while government entities justify their ban on salt as in the interest of public health, they do nothing to address this issue. Perhaps instead of outlawing all salt, as New York did (7), a better approach would have been to regulate the use of iodized salt instead. The problem with rhetoric versus evidence is that the majority of people only hear the rhetoric, not the facts. And if I had not taken the time to do the research, then I myself may have fallen into the trap of believing it.
Going back to the ban on soda, where the argument is that it will help curb obesity, one should also consider exactly what obesity is and what causes it. According to to WebMD, ” Obesity is an excess proportion of total body fat. A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight” (14). Obesity is usually calculated using BMI, and an individual with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight while a person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese. For example, I am approximately 5’9″ and I weigh around 130 lbs. If I were to calculate my BMI, I would discover that it ranges around 19. I would need to gain another 70 lbs in order to become obese, which would require an immense increase in my daily caloric intake. Perhaps if I drank eight to ten 32 oz sodas a day, I could accomplish this. All sarcasm aside, I do not want to imply that I am healthy by any means. I do not exercise or watch my diet. If “Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. For many people this boils down to eating too much and exercising too little” (14), then why am I not obese as well? There are numerous other influences on weight other than lifestyle such as age, gender, genetics, environment, psychological factors and eating habits, as well as illness and medications (I gained nearly 50 lbs when I became hypothyroid after the birth of my daughter, but later lost it as my thyroid regulated). SO another question to consider is why obesity has been on the increase in much of society. There are many reasons such as the changes in food production and eating habits as well as the decrease in physical activity. ” There has been a global shift in diet towards increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients and this along with a trend towards decreased physical activity has had a large impact on worldwide increase in obesity rates. The increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization have added to the problem” (15). Most disturbing is the increase in obesity in children, which I think most people would agree also relates to not only poor eating habits, but also the immense decrease in physical activity evidenced by the cuts in physical education and other school-based activities, increased use of computers and video games, and other sedentary ways of life. So my question is, how will a ban on 32 oz sodas actually help in an appreciable way where the ends justifies the means. Or is this just one in many steps the mayor is taking in his progressive agenda for control over public consumption?
Whatever justification political officials use, I still see these bans and regulations as an attempt to dictate choice in American society. There are several comments I have read that clearly illustrate this attitude, two of which stand out the most:
“County supervisor Ken Yeager said Tuesday that the ordinance (banning toys) ‘prevents restaurants from preying on children’s love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids’ meals,’ and would help fight childhood obesity” (10).
“Cheryl Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said ‘We can’t just rely on the individual to do something’ ” (6).
Rather than discussing personal choice and responsibility, it is easier for these officials to legislate morality and public good. As one points out, society cannot rely on parents to make appropriate choices for their children because the children are being brainwashed by restaurants, and the parents have no control over their children. The other says it just like it is- the individual does not count. It could make many people very angry if someone actually stood up and said that individuals are responsible for their actions and lifestyle choices; that the majority of issues in their lives are within individual control; and the results (good or bad) are rooted in personal behavior. God forbid that we should actually say that perhaps part of the problem with obesity is the individual making poor choices in life. Let’s just take that out of the equation and do it for them instead (note sarcastic tone here).
My thoughts on this issue are pretty simple. Mayor Bloomberg, I do not appreciate you or other officials dictating what I can and cannot have. SHAME ON YOU FOR ATTEMPTING TO REGULATE AMERICAN CITIZENS BY LIMITING THEIR CHOICES. You may not be directly telling me that I cannot purchase a large soda, which would be unconstitutional, but you are doing so by attempting to limit my choices. If I want to purchase a 32 oz soda, I should be able to do so. I may drink it myself, share it with my husband, or throw half of it away. I am fully aware of the possible long-term consequences for my choice, and it is my prerogative. In the same vein, I would like to argue that while I have the right to choose, I also believe that businesses should have the right to offer me that choice. The relationship is entirely between me (the consumer) and the business (free market). Period. And I want you to stay out of it, even if you might think the relationship is a dysfunctional one.
I am sorry that a portion of American society is struggling with obesity. However, this type of regulation will not address the real issues or causes behind it. Proponents may use whatever rhetoric they choose and manipulate statistics to benefit their arguments, but I am not stupid enough to fall for them. Sadly enough, I also believe that until more Americans are ready to stand up and take responsibility for their lives and actions as well as educate themselves about the truth behind many of these policies, there will continue to be more of this “Nanny-state” as so many label it.
- Just for fun, I wanted to include McDonald’s response on Twitter: ” .@MikeBloomberg We trust our customers to make the choices that are best for them.” (3) THANK YOU MCDONALDS FOR STANDING UP!!!!
- For an interesting look at the legal authority of a local government’s ability to enact policies designed to curb obesity, read “Regulating Food Retail for Obesity Prevention: How Far Can Cities Go?” by Paul A. Diller and Samantha Graf. I like this article because it includes a couple of tables that outline the general ideas behind some regulations and provides examples from areas throughout the country. It amazes me how ignorant I was about how rampant this overreach of government really is.
Links to research and related articles
(9) http://articles.cnn.com/2010-04-28/living/fast.food.toys.california_1_kids-meals-toys-ordinance?_s=PM:LIVING http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/11/more-on-the-ny-salt-ban-bill