Monthly Archives: March 2010


From my Soc 119 blog in response to an article about Tea Party protests:

When I see pictures of protesters holding signs that read “Marxism is an Obama-Nation” or that feature “Undocumented Worker” as the caption to a photo of our president, I’m irritated because these people are obviously irrational, yet still receive enough attention by the media to grow their following. I say irrational because if you’ve received even the least extensive primary education our country can offer, you’d know that our President may not be born elsewhere than in the United States. So saying that he’s undocumented is ridiculous. And frankly, what good is a sign like that going to accomplish? 

But I noticed it again on our campus last night. Outside of Eisenhower Auditorium, before the doors open for an event called Porn Nation, I noticed two people holding signs that read “Filth Not Faith”. Porn Nation is a presentation by recovering Porn addict Michael Leahy that’s been given at over 170 campuses nationwide about the way in which pornography (defined as “creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire”… )has shaped our culture and our expectations of relationships today. For me, I’ve always understood that Pornography is harmful to relationships and individuals too, so naturally I was curious to learn why these two felt the need to protest Mr. Leahy’s talk. Among other points, they made the claim that sex is natural and that sexual freedom is good, and as quoted in the Daily Collegian this morning, that “nations which have greater access to porn have lower rates of rape and pedophilia.” (… 

Later, during the Q and A, about a dozen students lined up to voice their frustrations with Mr. Leahy relating his argument more to personal testimony rather than statistical evidence. So I wondered; those two kids sitting outside -what evidence is there to indicate that rape is less common in the west because we have access to porn? There isn’t any; those two subjects may be true, but more likely, we have less incidence of rape (or reported rape) here than in Somalia because as a developed nation, along with having widespread access to the internet (and pornography), we also have better law enforcement. 

When I talked to them I asked them if they would be coming inside to listen to talk themselves. They didn’t think it was necessary; they were informed enough. 

The reason I’m frustrated is because Penn State students (we’re rational, right?) chose to attend Mr. Leahy’s talk with the sole intention to undermine it, not to be informed. For them, they already know what’s right and what’s natural. But the reality is that we’re 20 year old kids; how much experience do any of us really have? I’d argue not more than our professors or our parents.


Discussion Groups

Next week I will meet with the office of Undergraduate
Education to present the idea of integrating HRCD (and related issues) focused
discussion groups to every 1st year student’s Penn State experience.
I think that these groups have the potential to mend the problem both directly
and indirectly. Here’s what I mean:

First; so far, the only mandatory alcohol education at Penn
State has been Alcohol Edu -a program that although can be quite informative,
does not do much to change the student body’s motivation. In order for
motivational change to occur (by this I mean actually shifting the student
body’s desire to consume alcohol), then a more emotional and interactive
experience must be pursued. The discussion groups would ideally meet once a
week, be graded on both attendance and participation, and would be an extension
of the required freshman English courses (Engl 15/30). The sociology department
already runs it’s race relations course in much the same manner, where two
students lead a group of 15 students from the Soc 119 class, and each week
discussion topics are presented to the class in an informal manner.

Second, as an indirect benefit; because the groups will be an
extension of the required English class, freshmen will be exposed to the same
group of kids for an extra 50 minutes a week. This is huge because it gives
students the chance to make friends in a non-awkward environment, where they
might normally use alcohol as a social lubricant.

My hope is that the curriculum for the discussion group will
be written by HRCD consultants, and that it would force students to confront
the culture that surrounds them with a more critical lens, and ultimately bring
about a shift in university wide student culture.

Holocaust Museum Visit

The image that has stuck with me the most vividly from the
Holocaust Museum on Sunday is the photo of Kaufbeuren, where Hitler’s movement
first used the T-4 gas on children. It was part of his move to eliminate
physical and mental retardations from the population; (in)effectively leaving a
blank slate build his new race on.


This disrupted me for two reasons: it brought out a certain
personal disdain I have for those who disrespect the disabled, and secondly
-perhaps more so, that the incinerator used to carry out the mass murder was
situated among houses and shops in the village of Kaufbeuren.


In mid summer, when furnaces weren’t used, the hospital
produced the unmistakable stench of burning corpses and no public protest or
revolt was made.


Do I think this still happens? Sure; except if referring to
the example of the DR Congo, I think that the metaphorical houses next to the
hospital smoke stack are the US, Canadian, British, French, and Russian
governments. We (individuals, not governments) certainly know the war is
happening, but we tend to ignore the news reports (when they occasionally air)
and the articles because we don’t want to have another cause to care for at the
end of the day. The humanitarian responsibility lies in the government to
recognize our neglect as inhumane and to promote public awareness (real
awareness) of it as a first step before pursuing UN intervention.


But not to half-ass it like the UN did in Rwanda. Governments
worldwide each need to loan a significant number of troops to the UN corps. In
Rwanda that number was 5000, but they only ever deployed a fifth of that. And
much later than needed.


If the residents of that town could ignore the murder that
filled their sky with smoke and stench, it’s safe to say that the problems we
deal with (rather don’t deal with) today -genocide, civil wars, slavery -are
only easier to ignore.