Tag: Columbine

Dress Codes Should Protect Free Speech, Not Ban Colors

By Teagan Fair | United States

Although dress codes can differ throughout schools in America, the general rules are similar. Regardless of place on the political spectrum, many people respect the right to free expression in schoolwear. This all started in 1969, when the Supreme Court decided that schools could enforce their own dress codes, but only if a student’s clothing was disruptive to the learning environment. The landmark case occurred after students in Iowa wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.

However, there are many rules throughout American dress codes that are simply foolish, restrictive or even discriminatory. This includes rules regarding showing one’s collarbone, shoulders or midriff, rules regarding ‘gang-related clothing,’ and rules regarding political or social statements. For all three of these, schools often claim that the garb is disruptive. In many cases, though, this is simply untrue.

Unequal Censorship of Body Parts

One common type of censorship deals with the showing of different body parts, commonly the shoulders, collarbones or midriff. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), public school dress codes cannot have rules that enforce sex stereotypes. Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause both assert this.

In favor of the restriction, a number of people make the argument of sexual arousal. However, this is a major stereotype and does not equally take into account the desires and needs of every student. There is also no guarantee that it will be in any way disruptive. Even if a student’s clothing distracts another student, this is an individual problem. Isolated incidents do not justify an infringement upon the rights of others. This is especially true when there is not a typical disruption of class.

Gang-Related Clothing

Moving on to rules regarding ‘gang-related clothing,’ students at Southern Illinois University found that gang-related headwear was the number one target of dress codes and uniform requirements. A 2006 review of policy cited revealed 89% of the more than 80 school policies had to do with this.

Many schools nationwide have created bans on a variety of clothing they consider to be possibly gang-affiliated. This often includes bandanas or handkerchiefs, hats, certain brands, logos or emblems, black trench coats. In extreme cases, it even relates to wearing certain colors too much or at all. This is wrong on a number of grounds.

For one, prohibiting what some think is gang-affiliated only gives the prohibited items more power. If people learn to fear these kinds of things, the objects gain power. Much like a curse, it can also make it ‘edgy’ or ‘rebellious’ to wear these items. When many students seek the admiration of going against the grain, a blatant ban is counterintuitive.

A Transformation of Attire

Moreover, items like hats and bandanas are usually everyday items. Baseball caps, for one, are still a prominent piece of clothing in American society. Yet, many schools nonetheless associate with gangs, even though gangs are only a small minority of those who wear caps.

As for emblems, an article at The Atlantic wrote about several instances of ridiculous prohibitions:

“We weren’t allowed to wear any Dickies-brand clothing or backpacks,” writes one reader who attended a Georgia public school in the early 2000s. “They were considered a ‘gang symbol’.” Another reader: “Because one of the gangs had adopted Mickey Mouse as one of its symbols, we were not allowed to wear anything with Mickey Mouse on it.”

Many schools across the nation have also prohibited black trenchcoats, some particularly after the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. Before the shooting, the shooters would often wear the coats around the school. One actually wore one during the shooting, which sparked controversy. A clique within the school called themselves the Trench Coat Mafia and frequently wore the coats. As a result, some people blamed them for the massacre. However, Dave Cullen, author of the book ‘Columbine’, reporting at Salon, says differently:

“They were never part of the Trench Coat Mafia…As investigators get closer to producing an official report about the Columbine High School massacre, it is already clear that much of what was reported last spring about the motives and methods of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold was untrue.”

She’s Got the Rhythm, but Not Blue

The next example goes beyond the inadequacies of prohibiting various types of garments. Across the country, some schools actually ban, both partially and fully, entire colors. In some schools nationwide, showing excessive amounts of ‘gang-related colors’, usually blue or red, is against the rules. Even going beyond the fact that color itself is subjective, and everyone sees it differently, this is still ridiculous. When a color is evil, society has slipped into fear. An article in the Modesto Bee excellently explains how schools have gone as far as to ban insignificant pieces of apparel, such as shoelaces and belts, bearing the colors of red or blue:

“The two most common street gangs in the region, the Norteños and Sureños, claim the colors red and blue, spoiling the popular hues for the majority of Modesto high school students who have nothing to do with gangs. Red or blue shoelaces, as well as belts of the same color, are banned across the Modesto City Schools district, and every high school has some kind of limitations related to the colors on other articles of clothing.”

Political Censorship

Of course, political censorship in schools is a widespread flaw in American dress code. As I related in the first paragraph, in 1969, students in Iowa had protested against the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. This resulted in the case known as Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District. Even today, it serves as an excellent outline of the rights of students in public schools. Or, as this article would put it:

“All dress code policies must meet the standard set in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1969 case Tinker v. Des Moines, which allows students free expression as long as it does not create a “material or substantial disruption.” Of course, it can be very difficult to determine precisely what constitutes a material or substantial disruption. Judges usually side with administrators if a student’s clothing sends a violent or discriminatory message or if it advocates drug use. In contrast, if the clothing has a clear political message, the decision usually goes the other way. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) often argues on behalf of students in these cases.”

In the Tinker vs. Des Moines case, the armbands were not disruptive, so the students could wear them. Thus, it is not only immoral to censor particular opinions and expressions; the law also prohibits it, barring clear disruption of the educational process. Of course, many administrators can nonetheless claim, at their discretion, that things they disagree with are disruptive.

Taking Action for New Dress Codes

Without a doubt, dress codes in American public schools leave a lot to desire. They need widespread reform in order to improve morality and frankly, common sense. However, the only way to accomplish this is to take action and advocate this message. Desiring change, an American student should resist unjust and often illicit restrictions on freedom of expression. Do not give in to dress code restrictions, but rather, get schools to give in to you. By modifying dress codes so that they protect freedom of expression, we can keep both our schools and minds free.


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Facts, Gun Violence, Walkouts and Feelings

Isaiah Minter | United States

As millions of Americans across the country prepare for the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th, I expect the event to be little more than mass virtue signaling masquerading as youth activism. The truth is, millions of individuals carrying colorful signs and slandering those who agree with them does not make gun control good policy. Rather, it shows the foundation of gun control argumentation: emotion. Not facts, but feelings. And when discussing an issue as serious as the safety of our children, this approach does absolutely more harm than good.

If we are serious about improving the safety of our children and reducing gun violence, it is imperative that we pursue truth and evidence, not emotions and foolishness.

Therefore, I hope that this piece, in addressing common myths on the matter, functions as a resource for all Americans to understand the good intentions behind gun control are no substitute for its inability to yield positive results.

All in all, the American people have a right to facts. So here they are.

No, there have not been 18 school shootings this year.

When we think of school shootings, we usually think of students and teachers being killed by a shooter. We picture Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland, not a simple firearm being discharged on school grounds. By rejecting the sensationalized media view of the definition of school shooting, this statistic clearly is fake news.

America does not have a mass shooting problem.

Despite all the media hysteria, America isn’t even in the top ten of countries with the greatest frequency of mass public shootings and the annual death rate from them.

From 2009 to 2015, there were roughly 25% more per capita casualties from mass public shootings throughout Europe than the US.

Moreover, one study done in early 2017 found that all of the worst public mass shootings since 1970 have occurred outside the US. Of the worst 44, 40 have occurred outside the US and of the worst 67, 59 have occurred outside the US. Looking at the US specifically, from 1982 to early 2018 there were 98 mass shootings that resulted in 816 total deaths, or 23 deaths a year. While there has been a slight uptake in the frequency of mass public shootings, mass shootings account for just 12% of mass killings, which account for less than 1% of annual homicides.

Even when looking at homicide rates between US states and the rest of the world, America is not a haven of unimaginable violence.

In comparison to the rest of the world, the US does not stand out. There are clearly some state outliers, mainly Washington D.C., but keep in mind that the nation’s capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

We can all agree that homicides and mass public shootings are tragic, but the notion that a country ranked 28th in international homicide has a gun crime epidemic that can only be solved by swift gun confiscation is clearly false.

More guns do not equal more crime.

Because guns are killing machines, more guns mean more crime. Unfortunately, the claim runs contrary to the evidence.

The plain fact is, gun crime, and violent crime, in general, has been falling for decades in America despite increases in gun ownership of roughly 10 million per year. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:

“U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.”

Even if we compare rates of gun ownership and homicide state by state, the claim is not supported by data. Moreover, with respect to homicide and firearm ownership rates outside the US, a positive correlation remains to be seen.

In the event that a country, we’ll call it Nation A, has a high gun ownership rate and a high level of crime,  it does not logically follow the high level of crime must, or even can, be explained by the high level of gun ownership. It may even be the case that the level of high crime exists in spite of the high level of gun ownership.

For instance, the nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate three times that of the nine European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. It may very well be the case that firearm ownership explains very little of the disparity in murder between the two groups.

In any event, because crime is influenced by many factors independent of firearm ownership levels, the gun control side remains unfazed by hard evidence. For if they had any concern for the evidence, they would find that gun control has saved more egos in the last month than it has human lives in the last century.

Guns save lives.

As gun control pundits lament over the lives taken by guns, they ignore the massive disparity between the lives taken by firearms and the lives saved by them.

In 2016, some 16,459 murders were committed, with roughly 11,961 of them committed by firearms. Now, based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, US citizens use guns in defense over 989,883 times a year.

If in one year, 11,961 people were killed by guns – we’ll round up to 12,000 – and 989,883 people had their lives saved by guns – we’ll round up to 990,000 – that means  each year in the United States firearms are used to save lives at least 80 times more often than they are used to take them.

The CDC offers a lower figure, finding that Americans use guns in defense of the home roughly 500,000 times a year.

Ultimately, estimates of defensive gun usage range from 500,000 cases a year to 3 million. In any case, guns are used significantly more often to defend a life than to take one.

Years after Columbine, the state of Colorado passed the 2003 Concealed Carry Act, allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms. According to the CATO Institute, this law helped halt a massacre in December 2007 when an attacker who opened fire in the New Life Mega Church was shot by a volunteer security guard with a concealed handgun.

Elsewhere, three school shootings were thwarted by adults with firearms. In 2015, a 62-year-old man who had fired at several people was shot and wounded by an armed civilian. In the same year, an Uber driver shot a gunman who had opened fire in Logan Square. On the whole, armed citizens kill roughly twice as many criminals as police do, but one would never know this from the media.

The NRA does not bribe politicians.

When it comes to campaign contributions and lobbying, the NRA is not that influential. In 2012, the top 20 lobbying spenders were as follows:

  • US Chamber of Commerce: $136,300,000
  • National Assn of Realtors: $41,464,580
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $22,569,532
  • American Hospital Assn: $20,123,200
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: $19,260,000
  • General Electric: $18,970,000
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $18,890,000
  • Google Inc: $18,220,000
  • Northrop Grumman: $17,540,000
  • AT&T Inc: $17,460,000
  • American Medical Assn: $16,505,000
  • Boeing Co: $15,640,000
  • Southern Co: $15,580,000
  • Lockheed Martin: $15,347,350
  • Verizon Communications: $15,020,000
  • Comcast Corp: $14,750,000
  • National Assn of Broadcasters: $14,510,000
  • Royal Dutch Shell: $14,480,000
  • United Technologies: $14,454,750
  • Business Roundtable: $13,890,000

*The NRA spent $2,980,000 in comparison*

The truth is, the NRA is not some sort of lobbying terrorist organization. In 2016, the organization spent just $1.1 million, ranking them 488th in campaign contributions for groups spending more than $1 million. In the same election cycle, the Republican party spent $638 million, or 580 times what the NRA contributed.

Since 2000, the NRA has spent $203 million in campaign contributions. While it is true they do give a lot of money to politicians, the NRA exerts more pressure on the political process by motivating their base, sending voter guides to their members in support of favored candidates. Moreover, they spend more money on independent expenditures than campaign contributions.

Contrary to what the media is pedaling, the gun lobby is not a greedy organization that condones the senseless murder of children. Rather, it is a genuine grass root group in Washington composed of millions of law-abiding citizens that value gun rights.

Me funding you because you support a position – what the NRA does – is not the same as me paying you to support a position. The latter is bribery. 

International gun control did not work.

Britain, Australia, Mexico, all the international cases of gun control that liberal pundits love to use are not as successful as they are made out to be.

In Australia, the firearm homicide rate was declining years before the gun buyback program in 1996. In the 7-years before and after the buyback, the homicide rate declined at the same rate. 3 years after the gun ban, armed robberies and firearm-related murders had increased by 69% and 19% respectively. Additionally, a decade-long study concluded that the gun measures taken by Australia had no effect on crime rates.

In 2000, 3 years after the gun ban in Britain, crime rates had drastically increased: sexual assault by 112%, assault by 130%, and armed robbery by 170%. Half of the areas with the lowest number of legal firearms had a gun crime rate above average, compared to just 10% of the areas with the highest number of legal firearms.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and yet in 2012, the country’s gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was over three times higher than the US. All of this comes in spite of the fact that Mexico has one legal gun store, compared to nearly 65,000 n the US.

Gun crime was declining in Australia before the gun buyback; crime in Britain has risen since the ban, and Mexico remains a country stricken by violence despite the gun control.

American gun control did not work.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban didn’t lower crime. California’s strict gun-control laws failed to prevent San Bernardino. Connecticut gun control legislation since Sandy Hook has proved ineffective. Gun control failed in Chicago, it failed in Washington D.C., The Orlando nightclub Pulse was a gun free zone, as were Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.

For all the talk on the dire need for tighter gun laws, more signs and tears are offered than cases of hard evidence supporting gun control. And the reason why is clear: American gun control did not do what it was intended to do.

Image Source Matt Baldry

71R Book Review: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

By Mason Mohon | UNITED STATES

Jordan Peterson is academia’s rockstar, or at least the closest it has ever had to one. I don’t know who said that first, it certainly was not me, but I agree with them wholeheartedly.

Just as I spend months anticipating an album release from my favorite rockstars, I spent months anticipating the release of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. As soon as I saw it on Amazon, I pre-ordered it instantly, and for a teenage fella such as I, a few months is a large portion of my lifetime.

I received the book in the mail the day of release and jumped right in, hoping to get as much as I could from it, ready for every last Petersonian rabbit trail. I was not disappointed, but love of Jordan aside, would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. But why? Well, that is what this review is about.

What You Get

12 Rules is a good size book, and I mean that in a physical sense. It is a hardcover with what I would call an aesthetic cover design, very simple, and straight to the point. Its covered in arrows, which seems to symbolize the chaos of life – we are always looking where each arrow points, and we need to sort it out. For a hardcover its size, it seems to be a bargain considering its Amazon price.

The book is nicely formatted, with each chapter having a noticeable barrier in between and each line justified to the edge of the page (yes, I have read books that didn’t have that). Chapters range in size, with the longest in my estimation being the eleventh (Don’t Bother Skateboarding Children), amounting to about fifty pages.

Content-wise, it is perfect for anyone who enjoys Peterson Lectures. If you watch JBP’s content on a regular basis, there are very few foreign concepts within the book. It does not have very much on the political battle he faces against bill C-16, nor does it go very deep into the topics he covers in his Biblical lectures, but I saw it as a wrapping of pretty much all of his more mainstream-known views.

The Content of the Book

When reading the book, I expected it to go ankle deep on each of the topics. For example, I expected most of the chapters to focus mostly on the scientific benefits of each rule, but boy was I wrong. Mr. Peterson enjoys speaking of archetypes so I do not know why I expected nothing less.

The topics flow very well, too. All of the chapters will jump from personal anecdote to ancient literature to psychological fact pretty much seamlessly. At some points, I thought that there was no way whatever archetype being discussed was going to relate back to the rule, but to my surprise it did. Every time. It would quite literally leave me laughing.

Each chapter is applicable to your own life and is very engaging. The first half or so is very lighthearted, but I began to pick up on some much heavier and much more important points later in the book, especially when things like Soviet death camps or the Columbine shooters are brought up.

It is a relentless book, constantly reminding the reader that life is suffering, but not to lose hope, for meaning can be found in this life, and nihilism is never the answer.

Readability

I have been asked a few times how it compares to his other book, Maps of Meaning. Admittedly, I have not read Maps of Meaning in its entirety, but I have read a fair amount. 12 Rules is much much less academically geared. MoM seems to be ready for a scholarly psychology audience, while 12 Rules is ready for anyone to pick up and read. It is easier, and it can connect to your own life, to a greater degree than his other book does.

Many concepts are brought up but may need a little bit of prior knowledge, particularly when it comes to psychology. Freud, Jung, general psychoanalysis, and a bit of behaviorism is brought up with little explanation, but it is a psychological text, and any Peterson follower should already be familiar with such concepts. For a non-Peterson follower, this is not a deal breaker. They are simple concepts that can easily be inferred about, and a quick Google search is always available as an option.

Should You Read It?

If you like to watch Jordan Peterson’s lectures, no doubt.

If you are completely unfamiliar with Dr. Peterson, you should still read it. It is not a hard book to read, and it can introduce a lay audience to many in-depth and complicated concepts easily.

The text is affordable, so I see no reason why you would not add this to your library. Peterson’s book is a trove of knowledge and wisdom, so it is perfect for any individual seeking to sort themselves out.