Sometimes, I wonder if the year is really 2010, or if it is actually 1910. Let's play a fun game. Try to guess how many states allow corporal punishment as a form of discipline in schools. One? Two? Try 20. I'm sorry, but that figure boggles my mind. It also boggles the mind of Erica DeRamus. DeRamus, a senior at Oxford High School in Oxford, Ala., picked out the prom dress of her dreams for her senior prom – a seafoam green dress – and headed to the event with excitement building. But the excitement was short-lived after she was kicked out of the prom and, later the following week, was punished for her outfit. Officials said that DeRamus's outfit was too low-cut and too short, which broke the rules of the school's dress code. The dress code stipulates that necklines must be above a student's breastbone and skirt hems cannot be higher than six inches above the knee. While she disagrees that she broke the rules, after seeing images of the dress, I can understand their issues. But I cannot understand their options for punishment. According to WBRC-TV, 18 students that broke the rules were given two options of punishment – a three-day suspension that would affect their chances of getting into college, or a period of paddling. That's right. They beat them with a piece of wood. Surprisingly, DeRamus was the only student to take the three-day suspension, while her other 17 classmates decided to taste some splinters. "I'm a little too old to get paddled … This is high school, we're seniors," DeRamus told WBRC. "If we're going to act up, give us another option besides being paddled, because this isn't the 1940s. We don't take corporal punishment now." And she's right. What gives school officials the power to physically assault children when many parents are told not to? Why should anyone even have that right? We're human. Physical violence and physical punishment don't do a thing except harm people emotionally and mentally, in addition to leaving some ugly welts and marks. According to the American Psychological Association, corporal punishment in any institution where children are cared for or educated should not be allowed for a variety of reasons. The association says that it is violent and unnecessary, may lower self-esteem and instills hostility and rage without reducing the behavior that caused the punishment. Furthermore, corporal punishment is likely to train children to use physical violence. And people wonder why there are those of us who see no problem hurting someone. Those people are probably from Alabama. We've put a man on the moon. We have technology that can replicate the Big Bang. I can speak to someone across the world instantly with the click of the button, but there are school districts in America that see no issue in physically attacking children for minor reasons? Land of the free and home of the beaten. E-mail: email@example.com
If Gwen Stefani were to comment on the current Hollywood chaos, she would say, "This s*** is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." Tiger Woods, Jesse James and now Bruce Springsteen have reportedly joined the ranks of the other Tinsel Town tools for cheating on their significant others, according to the New York Post. Like any other respectable human being, my own reaction to the recent headlines has been disgust and then a later state of confusion when photos of the mistresses begin to surface. My heart went out to Sandra Bullock, the actress that I have adored since her Speed days, who, right after her long overdue Oscar moment, was blind-sided with the news of her husband's year-long affair with a tattooed ex-stripper. But once the shock of, "How could her husband cheat on her with THAT?" wore off, I began to realize that Bullock was just another starlet to fall victim to the curse of the leading ladies. Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Gweneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts are just a few on the list of actresses who won an Academy Award and then suddenly no longer had their man. It's sad that I'm not surprised when the accusations of infidelity come flooding in. Hollywood has long had the reputation of being synonymous with cheating and numb to the concept of divorce. What I find disturbing, however, is what happens to the men after they are exposed as cheating dogs. The term "sex rehab" is starting to creep into the headlines at an alarming rate - and it's creeping me out. Woods and James are names currently in the news for checking themselves into treatment facilities for their reported sex addictions – a trend started by X-Files star David Duchovny last year when he spent two months in rehab for his similar problem. I can't help but wonder, is addiction to intercourse an actual medical condition? Can these stars undergo behavioral counseling, take some sort of anti-Viagra pill and then suddenly not cheat on their wives? I don't think so. In my opinion, the only reason these disgraced men are checking into celebrity clinics is so they can hide from the media and stay out of the limelight until their scandal has passed. It's also their public way of saying sorry to their wives and fans. Well, I'm not buying the apology. Blaming their behavior on their "disease" doesn't sound very sincere to me – a little bit of accountability and personal responsibility can go a long way. What's worse is that after these men leave rehab "cured" of their addiction, they expect their wives to go back to them. And remarkably, some do. Duchovny's wife did - after a brief separation, the couple claims to be going strong. For now. Didn't anyone learn from Halle Barry, who said on the night she made history as the first black actress to win an Academy Award, that she was dying on the inside and her husband's indiscretions were to blame? Her then-hubby, Eric Benét, also tried rehab to kick his so-called sex addiction, but after a year of the couple trying to work things out, Benét reportedly relapsed and their union was over. The funny thing about celebrities is just when you think they have it all, scandals such as these break, and then you realize they're no different from the rest of us. Although I personally can't relate to a cheating situation, plenty of my friends can. Based on their experiences, the old saying is true - "once a cheater, always a cheater." I've cringed and lectured and then gave up as I've watched some of my friends continue to go back to their cheating boyfriends for the sake of "love." And with all the speculation in the media right now of, "Will Sandy give Jesse another chance?" - I can only hope that she makes the right decision and leaves him. Enough is enough. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill O'Reilly has a heart. And there go 95 percent of the people who would have read this column. On March 3, 2006, a young Marine named Matthew Snyder lost his life in a rollover crash in Al Anbar province, Iraq. A funeral was held shortly after in Maryland to let his family and loved ones mourn together in peace. "In peace" never happened. It was at their son and brother's funeral where the infamous Westboro Baptist Church decided to grace the Snyder family. This is the same group that is convinced America is going to hell because of our association with homosexuality and having an African-American president. These are the same people who were in Buffalo after the Continental Airlines Flight 3407 disaster occurred, claiming it as a "miracle from God." Jerry Falwell is rolling over in his grave thinking, "Wow, these people are extreme." As the funeral began for Matthew, the Westboro Baptist cult members strategically positioned themselves in front of the church. Armed with signs and speakerphones, they proceeded to tell the grieving family how their son was destined to spend an eternity in the scorching flames of hell. Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, was staring at a television inside the church witnessing all of this. He managed to make it through the day without pulling out a shotgun and blasting off heads, but the agony was too much for him. He decided that he would get revenge in his own way. So he filed a federal lawsuit. A jury of Snyder's peers awarded him almost $11 million dollars for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The story however, goes downhill from here. The U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the lawsuit went against First Amendment rights, and the ruling was null. Additionally, Albert Snyder needed to foot the $16,500 legal fees bill for the WBC. Albert Snyder would now be forced to fund the WBC so they can protest even more. What a world we live in. Enter Bill O' Reilly. In 2007, O' Reilly was introduced to Albert Snyder. O' Reilly had heard about the story involving the Snyders and the WBC, and Snyder was invited on O' Reilly's show. The story must have had a resonating effect on O' Reilly because this past week he offered to pay the legal bills left behind. Stop and re-read that last sentence. Bill O' Reilly actually did something pretty cool. I remember one of my friends telling me about how she met one of the leaders of the WBC, Shirley Phelps-Roper, when President Obama was being inaugurated. She told me how she was completely shocked by the experience. Phelps unequivocally believed every word of hatred spewing from her mouth. That honestly scares me. When Voltaire said something about defending a person's right to say something until his death, I'm sure he wasn't thinking that something was "God hates fags" or "God loves dead soldiers." Perhaps his tone would have changed upon meeting the Phelps family. The story is far from over for the Snyder family or the WBC. Sometime in October, the Supreme Court will be hearing this case. If there is any inch of karmic decency in the world, hopefully the WBC will be shut down forever. If America really is the leader in fighting terrorism, then it is time to put an end to this kind of verbal terrorism. The WBC is yelling "bomb" in a movie theater, and hiding behind the First Amendment to justify their actions. What Would Jesus Do? Anything the WBC doesn't. E-mail: email@example.com
Let's talk politics… or not. Controversial topics are tempting discussion topics, but you need to be hyper-aware when handling touchy material. The easiest way to begin a quarrel is to spill your opinion on the recently passed health care law to someone who shares the opposite stance. There are good points and bad points to this new law – I believe everyone can agree to that – but after this agreement, comes a heavy surplus of devoted opinion that resides around two basic estimations: good or bad. Those for the "good" stand in their corner across from those that believe it to be "bad" – and if your opinions are different, chaos may ensue. Work is a wonderful place to not speak your mind and to not voice controversial opinions – advice that I wish would have been given to me before I decided to discuss the new health care law with my co-worker. Of course, we were on different sides, and the conversation soon became vicious. Words were chosen un-thoughtfully, on both ends, and tempers were flaring while feelings were hurt. Not to mention the fact that we were at work, and were forced to stand next to each other for the following four hours. Along with politics, religion is also a topic that should not be discussed with those who you are not close to. Religion is a very touchy subject that is rooted in deep among its followers. It can be easy to insult important pieces of someone's sensibilities because of a misplaced comment. If you do want to debate on a particular subject with someone, know beforehand if they will be open to the topic you're discussing, or if they'll be offended by it. For instance, the topic of abortion involves opinions that can be emotionally charged. Everyone has an opinion on abortion and no matter how devout in your beliefs, there is someone that zealously believes the exact opposite. Some people may have had abortions, while others may have almost been aborted. Be sympathetic to other's opinions and attempt to understand their point of view. Otherwise, you will just be barking your opinion at someone who in retaliation will be just as stubborn as you – just like I am and have been. The smartest option is to objectively listen to an opposing voice. Listen to the validity of their points and remember them. Arguments are made stronger by addressing potential counterpoints. So discuss health care, religion, abortions, evolution, the right to bear arms, and etc. if you'd like – but know that you might be opening a messy bag that you can't seal back up. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember before Facebook, Twitter, Formspring and blogging, when people had these things made of paper where they wrote about their feelings? And then after they wrote in them, they hid these paper things that they used to call journals or diaries, and then no one else ever had to hear about or see them? Well, I miss those days. I never had a journal per se, although every now and then I would pull out a diary someone had bought me and scribble down something pathetic, emotional or sappy, and then hurriedly put the diary back in its hiding place, relieved that I had gotten whatever it was off my chest. I feel that this was a rather harmless habit, since I was able to express what I was feeling, no matter how trivial or embarrassing, without forcing anyone else to know about it. Gone are those days. Gone are the days where if you were having a bad day, you kept it to yourself or your immediate circle of friends. The new outlet appears to be a sort of cyber therapy – like group therapy, except none of us are actually willing to participate. I don't exactly remember what the first Facebook looked like, since it has undergone more facelifts than Heidi Montag. But I do remember when statuses were all formatted something like: "Amanda Jonas is…" and then you would usually add something trivial like "going for ice cream" or "doing homework." I also remember the days when you wrote on someone's wall to invite him or her to hangout, or wish a happy birthday. That was when Facebook was friendlier, less obnoxious and less of a confessional. I am so sick of people using Facebook as an outlet for every emotion that they have ever felt in their entire lives. Yeah, I am guilty of n "FML" status and maybe I will occasionally post something sentimental. But I am talking about the big time offenders, the people we all know who use Facebook as a means of pouring out their souls to hundreds of people who really don't care. I am friends with this one girl who graduated a year after I did from my high school. Every day, my newsfeed is ravaged by countless statuses about how she has no friends, is always screwed over by boys and how she is never going to meet a boy who truly sees how great she is. I wish I could tell her to take that Leona Lewis "Bleeding Love" crap and stick it where the sun don't shine. My friend and I will sometimes look at her wall-to-walls with various people where she, in a public forum open to all her Facebook friends, complains about every facet of her life in grave detail – names, dates and painful paragraphs. This girl is not alone. I also judge people who throw significant others under the bus with pointed statuses, people who participate in those idiotic surveys like, "Who was the last person you cuddled?" (no one cares), and people who write sappy crap on each other's walls: "My dear sweet noble knight, how I love thee! Sincerely, lowly maiden," (actual wall post that made me want to vomit). If you have a lot of feelings, that's great – just keep them to yourself. Tell your mom or instant message your best friend, because the rest of us, honestly, couldn't care less. Plain and simple. E-mail: email@example.com
It has been a while since something has come up in the world of sports that really made me upset. I guess I have just become accustomed to the modern day athlete and nothing really surprises me anymore. People hold out for more money, go to jail, cheat on their wife and so on and so forth. After a while, you just get used to it and the intense anger you once felt about a certain action becomes less and less present as each new story breaks, year after year, month after month and week after week. With that said, something struck me this morning as I was reading a few articles on the possibility of a trade that would bring Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Buffalo Bills – I have lost all respect for McNabb. According to several sources, McNabb will refuse to sign an extension with the Bills but will be more than happy to sign on the dotted line with the St. Louis Rams. Are you kidding me Donovan? Maybe you haven't noticed, but at no time in your career have you been a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady. You don't get to dictate where you play. Now I know that McNabb can't overrule a trade, but if he says he won't sign an extension, the Bills are not going to pursue the trade. I don't want to hear the argument that, as a veteran, McNabb should have some control over where he finishes his career either. If you're traded, you go play for whatever team is paying you the ridiculous sum of around $11 million you'll earn next season without comment. First off, you're not worth that amount of money in the first place and for you to assume that you are above being traded at age 33 is comical. All you have to do is close your mouth, play for a year in Buffalo and then decide where to sign because that is your choice. Maybe you'd realize that playing for the most passionate fan base in the NFL, who will treasure you as their guy behind center, would be something you'd want to do to finish your career. You aren't the top 10 quarterback you once were and I don't know who misinformed you, but the Rams are the laughing stock of the league. I can't even fathom the amount of interceptions you will throw in that backfield. You think you never had anyone to throw to in Philadelphia? Wait until you get to St. Louis. The real shame here, and what hit me the hardest, is that I have always been a huge fan of McNabb. Dating back to his days at Syracuse, I watched and followed his career and always hoped he would get a ring. But all that admiration was flushed down the toilet with one action. At this point, I hope the Bills don't make a deal for him because I don't think it's a fluke that he never won a ring. He is a bad character guy and I should have realized that when guys in his own locker room were siding with Terrell Owens back when the two had their falling out. A huge part of this stems from my realization that the Buffalo Bills will never be competitive again. No one wants to come here as a free agent and now players are vetoing trades that would send them here. If we can't get good players, we can't compete- it's as simple as that. So congratulations Donovan, you don't have to come to Buffalo. I hope it was worth a fan and your reputation. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sacha Baron Cohen joked about abortion on "Da Ali G Show" back in 2003. He beat boxed an abortion remix, laughed at a virgin who practiced abstinence, asked a priest if he wore condoms during sex and compared trying out abortion with sampling the flame-broiled Whopper at Burger King. Hilarity aside, abortion is no joking matter. Growing up, we're taught to stick up for what we believe in. At what point, however, should societal norms supersede one's personal ideologies? If you posed that question to Scott Roeder, he would tell you never. On May 31, 2009, Roeder shot and killed physician George Tiller at a church in Wichita, Kan. during a Sunday morning service. Although this is clearly a reprehensible crime, Roeder saw it as a noble act. "The entire motive was the defense of the unborn," Roeder said. Tiller, who was the medical director at the Women's Health Care clinic in Wichita, was no stranger to controversy. He was one of the few physicians in America that performed late-term abortions and was the subject of much scrutiny throughout the years that he was in practice. In fact, in 1993, anti-abortion activist Shelley Shannon shot Tiller five times, resulting in wounds in each arm, in an attempt to take his life. Irony aside – because yes, a pro-life advocate attempting murder is quite backwards – there is a serious issue here: people take their personal beliefs way too far. This isn't the first incident of its kind. Anti-abortion violence against physicians has been fairly common in America ever since the Supreme Court made its Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. During a protest in 1993, Michael Griffin murdered Dr. David Gunn and is currently serving a life sentence in Florida. A year later, Reverend Paul Jennings Hill was put to death after he shot Dr. John Britton and his clinic escort, James Barrett, to death. A little more recently, and a lot closer to home, Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed in his home in Amherst, N.Y. by James Koop in 1998. And the worst part about all of these cases is that none of the murderers felt remorse after their crime. In their eyes, they were doing society a favor. Much of the anti-abortion violence stems from traditional religious views and there are even groups that openly support such vehement acts. Army of God is a Christian American terrorist organization that promotes violence to prevent abortions. They have vandalized, bombed and set fire to hundreds of clinics while trying to get their point across. There is some sort of My-religion-is-the-right-religion hubris that has plagued the human race throughout history. People are raised with specific beliefs, but worst of all, they are also taught to stand up for what is "right." The problem, however, is that sometimes there is no "right." I view religion more as a societal invention to get people to behave a certain way and less as the definitive truth about the world, but there are some extremely pious people whose faith blinds them. Of course I am religiously tolerant and don't blame people for finding sanctity in the Bible, Torah and Qur'an (to name only a few), but strong ideologies – often times religious ones – can be very dangerous. To be honest, I don't see the difference between anti-abortion violence and the atrocities of September 11th, the Mumbai attacks and even the countless cruelties that the Ku Klux Klan has committed. In all of these cases, personal views clouded peoples' ability to act rationally. I'm not implying that we need to be a secular nation, but we do need to think before we act, even when we're positive that we're right. Personal ideologies can be extremely dangerous, especially when they lead to violent actions. Some feel that Roeder's rage was justified because abortion is morally wrong. In fact, while in jail, Roeder received encouraging letters from people across the nation expressing their support for his actions. Pro-life and pro-choice aside, isn't it scary when people can justify murder? A well-known physician was shot in the head during a church service in front of his family because he performed perfectly legal medical procedures. It is definitely important to stand up for your beliefs, but it is more important to choose your battles wisely. Don't let the My-religion-is-the-right-religion hubris get the best of you, because we've seen where that can lead us. E-mail: email@example.com
Yes, by combining the simple ingredients of anti-matter, a Prius and a slightly used VHS copy of 3 Ninjas Kick Back, we the people of the future have developed time travel. The people of the United States of Newmerica have sent me back to your time to write this opinion column. I have traveled through many years to give you a warning by offering a glimpse into your future and the things that will come to pass. For some of you, there is good news. What remains of the United States government is no longer a two-party system. Instead, the House and Senate are home to well over a thousand different political parties. It started with the event that caused Glenn Beck to drown in his own tears – the passing of the Health Care Reform Bill of 2010. The bill was far from perfect, but if it did anything right, it was to push forward in the fight to help update a very defunct system. The bill would only serve to drive the parties apart even farther. Soon, the Democrats and the Republicans will find themselves not serving the interests of the people of the United States, but instead, chasing after some sort of abstract idea. Both parties will eventually change their names to Liberal and Conservative, respectively, each trying to mold the country under one view. These acts will drive out many the moderates of both parties. The dispelled moderates will form many different parties, while others will split off from the Liberal and Conservative parties, believing that are not extreme enough. It was during this internal strife within the major parties that a dogmatic libertarian was able to seize the office of the presidency. The nation was stunned. At first it was viewed as the great underdog victory and a return to little federal interference; the country was like Beyond Thunderdome for those years. Many federally funded projects fell through as the government cut off the money flow. Roads, cities, hospitals and public schools all fell apart. The greatest tragedy came when the president repealed many safety laws, stating that is a choice to wear a helmet or seatbelt. Most of the extreme libertarians died in the following months, including the president, whose final words to his wife were, "I don't have to wear that thing. What am I, a hippie?" Two civil wars followed. The first was to fill the power vacuum that existed in the White House and the second was to free ourselves from the bears. We only survived that one after a cunning move involving a fishing line, some honey and a picnic basket. The extremity was so bad in the government that there hasn't been a president in over 20 years. The last one threw up his arms and retired into the wastelands that were once California, which are patrolled by a group of crazed cyborgs, the last act of a certain governor. Extremity existed outside the world of government as well. It got really bad when the apocalypse happened. Yes, the rapture occurred on a tepid Tuesday at 11:42 a.m. Jesus, who turned out to be Chinese, had stumbled onto the set of The Today Show to announce his second coming. Unsurprisingly, Revelations was wrong and there were no Four Horsemen and all that jazz. Instead, the world watched Last Holiday, starring Queen Latifah. Turns out that is His favorite movie. After preaching a message of peace and love, he was promptly booed off stage and called a hippie. God then showed up. In fact, He turned out to look like a giant spaghetti monster. The world learned that God does not hate homosexuals and they've always been allowed to marry. It seems Moses zoned out while God was dictating Leviticus to him and was too embarrassed to ask God to repeat what He said. Both God and Christ have been excommunicated from all churches. Most importantly…do not drink Pepsi 2. It kind of taste like butt. And don't panic: UB 3020 is just around the corner. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Monday's issue of The Spectrum, pro-Palestine activist Ilan Pappe was quoted as saying, "I don't think you can support the state of Israel and be a decent person." This came as a shock to me. I always thought being a decent person was based on your character and your actions, but if you take Pappe's word for it, all that counts is whether you agree with him. Of course, divisive quotes like this shouldn't be much of a surprise. I don't know if you've noticed, but the political discourse in this country has been a bit lacking lately. For evidence of this, all you had to do was turn to CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News to watch coverage of the health care debates. The argument was split into two camps: either you supported health care and you were a socialist, or you were against it and you were just another right-wing nut job. That's the state of political discourse in America right now. Either you agree with me and you're righteous, or you are against me and you're evil. There doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground. Granted, this isn't an entirely new development. It's how issues have been divided for decades. Abortion is a fine example of this. If you're pro-choice, you're called a "baby killer," and if you're anti-abortion, you're accused of being sexist and wanting the government to control women's bodies. Neither side of the abortion debate understands the other, nor do they want to. It's more fun to just lob insults at each other. The debate over gay marriage isn't much better. Anyone who opposes it publicly is automatically called a bigot and worse. Just ask Carrie Prejean, who faced vicious attacks from Perez Hilton for stating an opinion the opposite of his own. On the opposite side, the religious right continues to sling arrows at the homosexual community by calling them sinners and sodomites. There's actually a Web site called godhatesfags.com. If that doesn't show how divisive this issue is, I don't know what does. This problem had been stirring for a while in America, but the volcano of divisive politics didn't truly erupt until Obama became president. Of course, it's not his fault. He's tried mightily to create bipartisanship, but to no avail. We're far too aggressive to listen lately. The rise of the Tea Party movement was the first indication that things were getting out of hand. Droves of right-wing protestors appeared, calling the president everything from a communist to Hitler to the anti-Christ – all because he wanted to pass a universal health care bill. This is a little extreme, to say the least. Unfortunately, the liberal response wasn't any better. On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, comedian Janeane Garofalo stated that the Tea Party protesters were there because they hated the idea of a black president. This was a nasty blanket statement, to say the least. In Garofalo's world, Obama is too magical to criticize, so if you don't like him, you probably just hate black people. It's really shameful the way both sides have been attacking each other lately. The days of intelligent political discussion and agreeing to disagree have gone right out the window. But we need not hate each other just because we hold opposing views. As Dave Mason once sang, "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree." If America can adopt an attitude like that, there's no telling how much progress we can make. If not, we may be stuck in the political gutter for decades to come. E-mail: email@example.com
I can smile at the old days. Really, I can. They weren't always so perfect, nor are they all clear in my head anymore, but looking at where I am in life today, I think I came out okay. I was restricted from a lot of simple things growing up, causing my mother and I to butt heads often. She liked to control, and control she did. I had a better chance at winning the lottery than getting the O.K. for a sleepover, and trying to sneak sugar into my diet was harder than getting a bomb past White House security. Think I'm exaggerating? Have you ever had your mother show up at lunchtime in sixth grade to catch and yell at you in front of your entire class for buying ice cream instead of milk? I have. Still, though, for the most part I was happy. I danced, played soccer, climbed trees … I was pretty average, I guess. Every Tuesday my mom would go to golf league and my big sister and I would have adventures with good old dad. On Thursdays, it was dad's golf night and the girls would go out to dinner together. Every other weeknight, my sister and I had our extracurricular activities. Cute little suburban family, right? Well, let's just say sometimes there's more than meets the eye. I was blessed and while I wasn't spoiled, for the most part I always had what I needed materialistically and there was always (healthy) food in my refrigerator. Bud Light was also always in my refrigerator. As I got older, my dad started to go out most weeknights and my mother, who had her own in-home graphic designing business, began spending more and more time locked in her office and shutting out her former best friends. It never really fazed me, though. I didn't know any differently and deemed it totally normal. By high school, this pattern had become set in stone and my parents never spoke, only yelled. My mom's controlling only got worse, as did our fighting. I never understood it and my sister avoided it altogether, leaving me feeling much less than unconditionally loved. It caused some traumatizing situations that I still, to this day, cannot forgive my mother for. It wasn't until my freshman year of college, during a phone call with my sister, that my eyes were opened. My mom and I weren't speaking due to another unreasonable explosion that I didn't understand the reason for, and while venting, my sister stopped me and blurted out words I'll never forget. "You know mom's an alcoholic, right?" she said. It caught me off guard, but it was like a light bulb. How could I have not realized this? Of course she was. And suddenly a weight was lifted from me. I no longer thought so many things were my fault. Since then, I can't say things have really gotten better with my mother's disease. This past summer she was diagnosed with cancer, which also caused her some sort of mental disorder that she refuses to acknowledge. She's meaner and crazier than ever, randomly calling the police on her own family with made-up scenarios, causing scenes in public and self-destroying to disturbing levels. An addict cannot recover until he or she is ready. My mother is not ready and I'm afraid she won't be around long enough to get to that point. It's horrifying to have to stop loving your mother, but it is simply unhealthy to have anyone like her in my life. I'm trying to start my life and she's only holding me back. She has blatantly chosen alcohol over being in my family's life. She will not see me graduate, she will not be at my wedding and she will not meet her grandchildren. That is her choice. It stings me to hear my friends talk about all the adoring things their mothers do for and with them. I tear up watching the loving bonds they have, knowing that I have never and will never have that with my own mother. I guess you could call it jealousy, but I do try and see the good in my situation. I'm learning so many things from it that I think most people will, sadly, never understand. I have grown an emotional strength that I feel not many people can possess without going through situations similar to mine. Sympathy is the last thing I want. I want people to relate and realize these things are not the end of the world. As I always say, every single one of us has his or her issue. It's so very important to consider that every day whenever you start to judge someone else. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. That is the simplest way to explain why the homosexuals in this country need to understand that gay marriage is just not feasible. The fight should be over, and they should go back to being fabulous hairdressers and designers. It is true that every person has the right to be happy with the person he or she loves, except homosexuals. This is as true as the fact that gay people are better athletes than white people. For some reason, this minority of the greater public is under the impression that they are like any other citizen of these great United States and should be allowed to get the benefits of marriage. That is just un-American. If gay marriage were made legal, what would they call each other, husband and husband or wife and wife? Oh, the humanity! Think of what that would do to the children? Will you please just think of the children? Straight people in this country who support gay marriage are not only turning their backs on what is right, but also showing that they failed to learn the lessons that Franklin J. Schaffner's cinematic masterpiece, Planet of the Apes, tried to teach. Although it has been widely believed that the film criticized mankind's feelings of superiority and strong religious beliefs, I think it is obvious that Schaffner wanted viewers to see the atrocious results of giving everyone equal rights. The acclaimed director was ahead of his time and knew that giving homosexuals the right to get married would result in the demise of society as we know it. The film shows that once the gay community is given all of the same rights as the upstanding straight community, it will overthrow those in power and lock us up like beasts. Heterosexuals will be forced to live in shambles at the will of gays from all across this country. The director's message against gay people can be clearly seen. (I mean, he portrayed homosexuals as apes, right? Yeah, I think that is what he meant.) Schaffner depicted them in this animalistic light because gay people aren't as good as humans. I plan on starting a research program – using the same great minds of science that are trying to disprove global warming – to see if homosexuals actually are, indeed, humans. Having absolutely no background in science (and, full disclosure, I don't really care for this whole "science" thing), I am pretty sure that those that are attracted to the same sex are not part of our infallible species. So far I have tested the genetic makeup of exactly .5 homosexuals – someone who is bi counts as half – and found nothing different. This might be because I don't know how to test genetics, but I am still hopeful I will find something. Leviticus 18:22 says, "[Thou] shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman. It is an abomination." And God would not create humans that do not follow his rules, and creatures that don't follow his word aren't humans. I mean, everyone goes to church every Sunday and listens to Leviticus 19:19 and "[does] not wear material woven of two kinds of material," which is why I only wear denim. Many have known for a long time that "the gays" are inferior and that they shouldn't be considered equals. This is excluding Freddy Mercury, Kevin Spacey, Tom Hanks's character from Philadelphia, Elton John, Greg Louganis, Truman Capote, Pete Townshend and the dad from the Brady Bunch, because those guys were super cool. As this is the greatest country in the world, we can compromise. The best possible option is that instead of husbands or wives, they will be called "man friends," as even a manly man like me can admit to loving his good "man friends." We can figure out a name for females when we get there. This protects the children from the traumatic confusion of seeing two people that love each other sharing the term "husband" and preserves the sanctity of marriage. As everyone knows, defending the holiest of all the sacraments – which has turned into nothing more than a legal agreement – in a secular nation should be of the upmost priority. Marriage is a sacred thing; this can be seen by the amount of divorces and affairs in this country. Listen, my middle name may be Allen, but it might as well be America. We need to stand up for what is right, and protect the kids – think about the kids. Allowing everyone to have the same rights for marriage would make our forefathers sick. And it would likely result in the whole world becoming gay; it only makes sense. E-mail: email@example.com
When college budgets are slashed, boy, do states know how to slash. In light of the most recent budget cuts from the SUNY system, UB officials are in scramble mode. Due to a strain in funding, the university officials will be delaying UB's expansion till the funding comes through, which, by their estimates, could be as early as 2050, and construction could be completed by 2080. The main focus of the UB 2080 plan would be to expand all three campuses and build a medical campus in downtown Buffalo, while at the same time expanding the student and teacher population on campus. The plan requires upwards of $5 billion in funding. Unfortunately, the global economic downturn and continuous cuts from the New York State government have made the procurement of funds that much harder. The delay will cause the expansion of new libraries and new dorms to be put on hold. Students will have to incur higher costs. But again, remember, these funds will make student life better for all. Now of course, the downside to all the expansion and the delays is that the project has already been set into motion. Construction that was begun on UB's North Campus near Bell Hall has led to greater traffic in the area. Another problem with the delay is that UB needs this change now, not in two decades. The libraries are inadequately equipped to benefit the student population – not to mention the rather dull design of campus. UB's facelift will launch the university as a premier research institution. The plan calls for North Campus to be the "intellectual core" of the university. The biggest additions will be a new strip along Lee Road filled with restaurants, off-campus apartments and retail stores. South Campus will be restructured within the guidelines of four disciplines — law, education, social work and architecture and planning. A series of strategically placed demolitions will allow the campus to be reshaped and more efficiently used. The campus population will rise above the 8,000 mark between faculty, staff and students. Although the actual expansion of South Campus will be smaller than those of the other campuses, it will receive no less attention. Its implementation will be done in phases to avoid hindering campus activities. Although the plan is still in its early stages, one thing remains clear: university officials must fight for every dollar and the execution of the plan. In fact, members of the administration should lobby the state legislature for the money immediately. If not, UB could fall dangerously behind other institutions that have better absorbed the economic downturn. The University at Buffalo can ill afford any delay to this plan. Pushing UB 2020 back to 2080 would be a dangerous thing; in fact, it could seriously damage the university. After all, the plan not only revitalizes the university, but could provide the jolt the greater Western New York area could use to revitalize itself as well. And everyone can agree – that is priceless.
The last thing any UB student wants to talk about, much less read about is another election process. But this one is kind of a big deal. No, it isn't for a Student Association position but rather a job that exerts a tremendous influence on the inner workings of this university. Many students are unaware of what the UB Council actually does. The UB council acts as the primary oversight and advisory body to the president and senior officers here at UB. The body is charged with reviewing all major plans and activities of the university in areas from academics to buildings and grounds. The Council has some major pull. Joshua Boston represents the best candidate to represent the student population on the Council. Boston has served and excelled in every leadership position he has attained here at UB. As for his credentials, he has served as editor to both The Spectrum and Visions Magazine in addition to being the chairperson for SA's Election and Credentials committee. For full disclosure, Boston did work as a managing editor here at the The Spectrum. That link may discourage some from viewing the endorsement as unbiased, but it is not the case. Many of the editors currently on staff were not working with Joshua as he hasn't worked at the paper for two years. Nonetheless, we feel that he is the right guy for the job. Boston's campaign is not filled with an agenda but rather a promise to the student body to advocate for them. The decisions by this council significantly influences student's lives with every choice it makes. These are uncertain times for UB. The expansion plan UB 2020 has been delayed yet again. The incoming freshman class of 2014 will be one of the largest and highest scoring class ever to enroll at UB. Anyone paying attention to recent events has seen the schools budget cut, tuition raised and facility cuts and new building projects delayed. There is no one better to represent the needs of the student body on this Council then a recent graduate like Boston. Again this endorsement only serves as a recommendation to the student body. Students should go and learn about these candidates and make an informed choice. Voting for the council will occur April 6th to 8th at http://student-affairs.buffalo.edu/vote.
Puff, puff, pass. The phrase may no longer be taboo in the state of California come next November. The state with medical marijuana may make it entirely legal for adults. The petition to legalize marijuana was signed by nearly 700,000 residents of California, grossly exceeding the required 433,971 signatures needed. If approved, the referendum would allow all those over 21 years old to possess an ounce of marijuana – more then enough to roll up a few joints. The initiative also allows residents to cultivate and harvest the plant in limited quantities. Local governments reversed the option to allow and tax marijuana sales. However, the proposal does take measures to keep it away from minors. Users would not be allowed to consume it in any form in the public arena or while minors are present. The proposal would also make it illegal to drive while under the influence or posses the drug on school grounds, measures that should be enforced to the fullest. Many opposed to the measure cite the fact that marijuana is a gateway drug, which can lead users down a rabbit hole to other illegal narcotics. Plus, with its legalization, the state law would be in a direct conflict with federal law. The current administration in Washington has decided to cease wasting federal resources on prosecuting marijuana cases. However, there is no indication that Washington would be supportive of this measure. Now many advocates of the legalization believe that the state can stand to profit upwards of $200 million. That money could be used to help solve the Californian budget crisis. The revenue could also be used to pay for public safety services as well. Now what will be the side effects of the legalization? The fact remains that between 33 percent and 50 percent of Americans use it daily, according to a study by Roger Roffman, a professor of social work at the University of Washington. As far as criminal matters are concerned, in 2009, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice showed that arrests for other criminal offenses have decreased between 1990 and 2008. The arrests in California in cases with marijuana have gone up by 127 percent. During that same time, 60,000 violent crimes haven't been solved, according to the FBI. Marijuana has too many questions surrounding its legalization. There is no clear consensus on what the aftermath will be on marijuana legalization.
I had nightmares all weekend. I woke up sweating in the middle of the night screaming, "Leave me alone!" before I snapped out of it and realized it was just a dream. Except it wasn't. All last week I battled my way through the frenzy of Student Association elections in the Student Union. Between the Student Alliance and the ONE Party, if I had one more campaigner shove a flyer in my face urging me to vote, I would've taken regrettable actions. I don't have a problem casting my vote. After all, it is part of my student obligation to let my voice be heard. I do, however, have a problem with both parties' campaign slogans stating that they're "for the student population." Really? Because I beg to differ. After months of speculation, SA proudly announced that Three Days Grace will headline Spring Fest 2010 with opening acts N.E.R.D. and Lady Danville, in addition to two unnamed acts. Are. You. Kidding. Me? That's the best you could do? A '90s alternative rock band that took nearly 11 years to hit it big with a platinum album that only reached 69 on the US charts? They've had their fair share of gold hits with "I Hate Everything About You," "Animal I Have Become," "Pain" and "Never Too Late," but is it really enough to sign the band on to headline our spring concert series? Hardly. Spring Fest has always been a highly anticipated event on campus. It's the end of the year celebration – one last hoorah on campus before exams and senior commencement. You could even say it's a reward for students who've spent endless hours spent at Capen stressing over finals. Sorry to say, but this year students may end up opting to spend their Saturday night at Capen instead of Alumni Arena. This isn't the first time in the past four years that SA has dropped a goose egg on Spring Fest. Last year, the annual April concert featured punk rockers Rise Against, and The Roots headlined in 2007 – not too memorable. SA did reel in Akon and T-Pain in 2008 for a night to remember. T-Pain wasn't on stage long enough to make a lasting impression, but his over the top mascot opened eyes. Akon started off a bit rocky before his oddball DJ fell off the turntable, nearly breaking his neck and every piece of equipment on stage. The night was a success in my book. If you claim to be the voice of the students, then give the students the chance to be heard. There's no reason why we shouldn't have a say in who we want to headline our concert. Survey the student population on an ideal music genre or compile a list of possible headlining candidates. Take those results and hire an act that you know the students will be excited for. If that idea doesn't satisfy your minds, then do us all a favor and broaden your horizons. My patience has run out on the customary rotation of hip-hop to punk rock bands between the fall and spring concerts. I'm sick of having to watch rap and hip-hop artists run around stage while waving a towel in the air as they hold a firm grasp on their man-meat. I'm sick of hearing poor acoustics make a national rock band sound like underground rockers performing in Billy's basement for a kegger party. Didn't Lupe Fiasco's performance make you want to find a new playlist after he told UB students they suck? Here's an idea: play something country. Country music has taken the music business by storm in recent years. Its popularity is expanding vastly with country rockers Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Toby Keith. If electric guitarists aren't your style, try Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. How about mega-groups including Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum and The Zac Brown Band? Smaller acts from Darius Rucker to Jason Aldean and Gloriana can pack just as big a punch as the mainstream stars. Do you honestly believe outsiders will spend $35 on a ticket for this year's lineup? Country acts sell out venues around Buffalo and Western New York year-round (including UB's own country acoustics show at The Center for the Arts). A country act is going to draw a bigger crowd outside UB students, and we all know what that means – revenue. I'm not suggesting to specifically target a country music act. But I am suggesting that you give us something fresh and new to look to forward to. Stop choosing one of the recently played artists off your iPod to headline Spring Fest and give UB students a voice. Maybe then your crowd will exceed the attendance of a high school musical. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be honest, Sabres fans. When you think back to the beginning of this NHL season, what were you saying about the Sabres? What type of predictions were you making? From what I remember, nobody had high expectations for the team. Everyone was saying that it was going to be another typical losing season and that the Sabres didn't have a roster solid enough to compete with star-studded teams like Pittsburgh and Washington. I'll admit it — I was right there with you, doubting the potential of the Buffalo blue and gold. Well, look at the Sabres now. On Saturday night, they clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2007, the year Chris Drury and Daniel Briere led the team to the NHL's best record. Here in 2010, the Sabres are in position to win the division, which would give them home-ice advantage in the postseason's first round (knock on wood — this is Buffalo, after all). Taking the preseason expectations into consideration, it seems to me like the Sabres have had a great season. So why isn't anybody giving this team any credit? Why are people still down on the Sabres after all they've accomplished this season? When I turn on WGR 550, Buffalo's sports talk radio station, I'm always hearing miserable Mike Schopp talking about how the Sabres have no chance of winning a Stanley Cup. When the Sabres lose two games in a row, everyone I run into suddenly has 10 reasons why the Sabres are terrible. I can't help but feel that they are undeserving of so much criticism. Call me foolish, but I'm an optimist. I'd like to commend the Sabres for the job they've done this season and give you a few reasons to root for them come playoff time. 1. Though this year's Sabres lack the 2007 team's offensive star power, head coach Lindy Ruff has promoted a team-first philosophy, and the goal scoring has been done by committee rather than by one or two stars. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville have each scored 23 goals, leading the team. Right behind them are Derek Roy, whose hat trick on Saturday brought him up to 22 goals, and Jochen Hecht, who has 20 goals. 2. On the defensive end of the ice, six-foot-eight-inch Tyler Myers is a favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the league's top rookie. He just turned 20 years old in February and has been dominant all season long. If I were Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, I'd sign Myers to a lifetime contract this summer. 3. Head coach Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL. He has seen it all and has become the face of the Sabres since he was hired in 1997 after playing here for most of his career in the 1980s. He will provide experience and toughness for his team when they need it most — in the postseason. Am I forgetting anything? Let's see ... offense, defense, coaching ... 4. Ryan Miller! Let's remember that Miller, the MVP of the Olympic men's hockey tournament, is considered by many to be the best goaltender in the league. He's had one of the best seasons of his career this year, and he has the ability to carry the Sabres on his back. The team will go as far as Miller takes them in the playoffs. Say what you want about the Sabres' offense, but the opposition can't beat them if they aren't beating Miller. So there you have it. From now on, whenever you're down on the Sabres, just think back to your expectations for the team in September. E-mail: email@example.com
The American education system has been in trouble for quite a while. The first attempt to fix the weakening system was the No Child Left Behind Act enacted by President Bush. It failed. Now instead of being truly innovative and inspired, the current administration seeks to fix the gaping holes in the law. The new law is meant to give schools greater flexibility to meet standardized test scores, along with new ideas to assess teachers. The bill has support across the aisle. Not many politicians would actually bog down laws to help educate the future leaders of America. But why are America's leaders trying to fix a bill that already has failed? Anyone that has been following the American education system knows it needs a lot more then just reform. It needs a facelift. The answer isn't more funding; the amount of inputs going into the public education system in the past 40 years has been staggering. In an article entitled "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools" by Eric Hanushek, an expert in educational policy, Hanushek found that in the past 40 years, the United States has increased its spending for public schools from $18 billion in 1960 to $132.9 billion, while seeing tests scores drop like a rock. This means that as more money is spent per student, students actually do worse on standardized test scores. In fact, during that same time period, the number of teachers with master's degrees and at least four years of teaching experience has also risen. So let's think about this. If spending more on students and better-educated teachers leads to worse test results, then other factors are at play. One conclusion that can be drawn is that a better-educated teacher isn't necessarily a good teacher. When math and reading scores are falling behind, then schools should be trying to attract better teachers in those areas. In other industries, if a person is the best at his or her job, he or she is paid accordingly. If math and English teachers are in higher demand, they shouldn't be paid the same amount as, say, a gym teacher or social studies teacher. Comparing the United States students to those of the rest of the world shows the true flaw in our education system. According to another paper by Hanushek in 1998 titled "FRBY Economic Policy Review," the United States has almost always fallen below the median test score since the 1960s, no matter which group of countries is taking the test. The results should be shocking to most, considering the United States has a highly skilled labor force that has sustained the country's economic dominance. For the American education system, quality has been replaced by quantity. The United States had a labor force with more years of schooling than labor forces of other countries, but those years entail lower-quality education. The era of American dominance in the global economy due to a superior workforce is ending. There are things besides increasing spending that can be done to improve Americans' education level. Parents need to stress the importance of a good education, regardless of socioeconomic class. Education provides the foundation for opportunities to better a person's life. Great teaching must be encouraged and rewarded. If the government is serious about improving the quality of education in this country, then real steps must be taken to get the best from teachers. Lackluster efforts should no longer be tolerated. Lastly, the government's band-aid fix of the No Child Left Behind Act won't cut it. Having school districts operate with the threat of losing federal funding only makes that district teach to the exam rather then actually educating its students. America is sick of being an average student. Just passing doesn't cut it anymore.