Opinion Columnists Riley Mulcahy and Emmanuel Simon debate whether our country should be expanding the Supreme Court. Mulcahy argues for expanding the Court, Simon argues against it.
Pro -Why We Must Pack the Courts
Democrats should use their power to take bold, progressive action
By: Riley Mulcahy
Democrats won in 2020. Sometimes it is hard to believe that Republicans are the minority party, but they are. The realization of this fact will make it easier for Democrats to create an
environment in Washington that people would like to be a part of, and packing the Supreme Court is one action to take that makes sense. The concept may seem problematic to most people, that the court will be over-politicized, too liberal, and that it will take away from the sanctity of the court. However, Republicans have been throwing away tradition amongst the courts for decades, and Democrats must beat them at their own game if they have a chance in passing meaningful legislation.
The term “packing the courts” is defined as any manipulation of the Supreme Court’s makeup. There have been reports that Democrats are looking to pass legislation that would add four more Justices to the court, and it is safe to say that they will have at least slight liberal leanings because the Democrats are in control of both the Senate and the House. In an era where there have been so many reckonings, social injustices, racial tensions, COVID-19, etc., it is time to reimagine institutions that Republicans are threatening.
Republicans have taken every opportunity to pack the courts. In 2016, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Republicans lost their minds. They refused even to hold a hearing and waited for the election to be over to see if Trump would win and let him decide the fate of the Supreme Court. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died last year, Republicans shifted their tone and rushed a Supreme Court nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, fearing that the White House might have been up for grabs.
When Obama left office, hundreds of courts lacked judges, which meant Republicans could fill the lower courts with conservatives, leading to state abortion bans and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation holding up in the courts. The notion that a single party can set the tone for the next 50 years is mind-boggling; however, adding more members to the Supreme Court is more inclusive. Nine people should not have the power to be the will of the American people; there should be more diversity of beliefs and backgrounds in America’s highest court, which would lend itself to America’s variety as a whole.
Biden will probably not support a radical change to the court’s makeup; however, this is the time for progressives to take him to the task. Amidst a global pandemic, Biden is doing a fantastic job trying to return America to some type of normalcy; however, this is the time for bold and powerful change. Republicans do not have the power to control the house or the senate. Democrats must choose wisely how they will proceed because if they lose control of the House and the Senate, packing the courts, along with so many other bills, including those that help America become more inclusive, will go out of the window.
Even though there is a lot of opposition, Democrats must bring the issue to the table. There has been too much inaction in a time in which action is most needed, and the majority of Americans support progressive efforts. Republicans are much better at framing issues and using fear tactics to create paranoia, using words such as “biased” or “socialism.” In reality, packing the courts will create a more just society, one that embodies not only the will of rich white people but appreciates all Americans, recognizing all cultures, religions, creeds, and races.
For more information on Court-Packing, please visit:
Con - Court Packing: A Recipe for Division
By: Emmanuel Simon
Packing the Supreme Court is detrimental to the unity of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or even political stance. Current “court packing” advocates are fundamentally at odds with an America that seeks healing and unity. This will be evident by the fact that many Americans, both Democrat and Republican, share my view.
The members of the Supreme Court exist as non-partisan members who wish to preserve and protect our Constitution. The Supreme Court’s website states, “As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” Advocates of court packing deny that the Supreme Court acts as a non-partisan. According to their view, members of the Supreme Court are biased, and therefore, we need to add more members of the Supreme Court in order to do away with the Court’s bias. But not only are these accusations against the court unfactual, these accusations are also self-refuting.
Advocates for court packing seek to bring more members onto the Supreme Court. Yet given the premise that members of the Supreme Court are biased, it follows that advocates of court packing actually seek to bring biased members onto the Supreme Court in order to get rid of bias. This is done in order to bring more politicians who share the same one-sided political view onto the Supreme Court. In other words, advocates who want to bring more members onto the Supreme Court actually seek political power and domination over those who disagree with them. Hence, Court Packing leads to a divided America.
Furthermore, Court Packing leads to a logical regress. Suppose that since Biden is president, he decides to pack the Supreme Court by adding more Democrats. A future Republican president could also pack the court to get more members who think like him or her. Both future Democrat and Republican presidents would find themselves packing the Court in order to have an America that focuses upon a single narrative. Again, we see that Court Packing changes the Supreme Court into a tool used for political power that divides the American people rather than an institution that helps unite.
Now, some advocates of court packing claim that Women’s rights are at stake if we do not pack the court. But that’s just flat-out false. Let’s look at what accomplished woman and Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project, had to say about Packing the Court: “Nine seems to be a good number. It's been that way for a long time….I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” She then adds, “If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that — one side saying, ‘When we're in power, we're going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had enough common sense to see that court packing does not lead to an America that helps women. Rather, it divides our America.
We can also see that advocates of Court Packing are actually trying to weaken the voices of accomplished women in our America. Notice how far-left Democrats weren’t concerned about court packing until Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on the scene. It was fitting that an accomplished woman like Justice Barrett fills the place of an accomplished woman like Justice Ginsburg. These Far-left Court Packing advocates are therefore both hypocritical extremists; hypocritical because they say they stand for women’s equality, yet their actions show otherwise. They are extremists because they are so far left that they make other left-leaning figures like Senator Manchin or President Biden look like conservatives.
It’s ironic to hear advocates of court packing claim that their position is meant to help women when accomplished and noteworthy women like Barrett and Ginsburg disagree with them. All Americans—Republicans and Democrats, men and women—can see past the empty rhetoric offered by Court Packing advocates. The American people seek healing, not division. For that reason, men and women of our American are smart enough to know that Court Packing is illogical, divisive, and anti-women.
On the Function of the Supreme Court: https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/about.aspx#:~:text=As%20the%20final%20arbiter%20of,and%20interpreter%20of%20the%20Constitution.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views regarding Court Packing:
Former police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for George Floyd’s murder is only the tip of the iceberg in a much longer fight for racial justice.
By Victoria Vidales
Following months of agony George Floyd’s loved ones received some justice for the loss of him in the conviction of the man responsible for his death: Derek Chauvin. The former police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in front of horrified bystanders. In a cell phone video played around the world George Floyd called out for his mother, and pleaded for mercy speaking the words “I can’t breath.” After his death this past spring, protests against police brutality and in support of racial justice broke out both nation and world wide. His final words “I can’t breath” became an anthem used by activists to call for change, justice and reform. Although Chauvin’s conviction is the just outcome, there is a much longer fight for racial justice that must be continued.
On March 8th the American people watched the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin trial begin where Chauvin faced charges for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Witness after witness and expert after expert took the stand, most testifying that Chauvin’s direct actions caused the death of George Floyd. The jury watched as the video documenting George Floyd’s final moments alive was played. Following a deliberation, on April 20th Chauvin was convicted of all three presented counts.
After Chauvin’s verdict was read immediate emotions spread throughout the nation. George Floyd’s family received some justice for their loved one’s murder, and tributes by his fellow countrymen and women poured out everywhere. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the American people that evening expressing their support for racial justice and calling for change within this nation.
On April 21st U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department would be conducting an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department ‘s practices including the use of excessive force. On April 26th AG Garland announced an investigation into Louisville Police Department’s use of excessive force in law enforcement. The LMPD is the same department that investigated the death of Breonna Taylor; no charges were filed in relation to her death. These investigations are the first step by the Justice Department, under the leadership of AG Garland, to investigate police brutality, a positive sign for change.
Although Chauvin’s conviction is a victory for accountability it is not the end of the movement for justice. George Floyd is only one of so many people of color that have been unjustly killed at the hands of some form of law enforcement. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed, Adam Toledo was a child who dropped a gun, Elijah McClain was walking home; the list of unarmed Black and Brown people killed by law enforcement goes on and on. Change must begin and that change begins with us.
As young people ourselves we will be the people of tomorrow, the people who will make the laws that govern our country that shape the world we wish to live in. If we want to prevent someone else from facing the same fate that George Floyd did then we must advocate for change. We must vote in every election, run for public offices, pay attention to the facts, and remain informed on the world. It is essential that we encourage dialogue amongst those that disagree and that we are united in this movement for change. People are always stronger when they are united together and I hope that people have been awakened to the need for changes to be made in order to preserve the safety of all.
Opinion Columnists Brent Dondalski and Katelyn McCarthy debate whether the US government should combat Climate Change. Dondalski argues for government action, McCarthy argues against it.
Pro: The Consequences of Doing Nothing
Climate change will destroy our planet unless the U.S. government leads an effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
By: Brent Dondalski
The consensus is and has been here: climate change is happening. Data from NASA shows that over ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree; the climate is warming due to human activity. Despite the rapid amount of climate change misinformation, it is essential to our survival that we take radical and decisive action against climate change in the form of government policy. If we refuse, we are consciously handing future generations a death sentence.
Above all else, it is important that we understand the facts of this crisis. One might argue that throughout Earth’s history the climate has always changed. This is true, however, these changes are attributed to small variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun over thousands of years (NASA). What we are seeing now are unprecedented changes happening over a very short amount of time. NASA explains that “there is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause Earth to warm in response.” The five hottest years recorded are 2020, 2016, 2019, 2015, and 2017 (NASA, Climate Central). Since 1880, Earth’s temperature has increased by a little more than 1°C, with two-thirds of that warming occurring since 1975 (NASA). Current climate models predict that if we continue to emit as many or more greenhouse gases, the Earth’s temperature could increase up to 4°C by 2100 (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), and if we halved our carbon admissions from 2010-2030 by 45% we could limit warming increases to under 2°C (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). For context, the last time Earth saw a temperature change of 4°C was the most recent ice age from over a millennia ago (GreenFacts).
There’s no doubt that climate change poses a catastrophic threat to the planet and human civilization. Unfortunately, governments have failed to enact environmental policies that would slow the rate of climate change. Dating back to the Reagan administration, the US government has consistently rejected evidence of climate change and its potentially disastrous effects, largely due to pressure from the fossil fuel industry (New York Times). Reagan especially was so extremely opposed to environmental protections that it alarmed even his own party members (New York Times). Studies show that “the generation of climate misinformation persists, with arguments against climate science increasing relative to policy arguments in publications by conservative organizations” (Environmental Research Letters). The crisis and its supporting science have been relentlessly politicized and mischaracterized largely in order to benefit fossil fuel lobbyists and their associated politicians.
Understanding climate science misinformation is essential to understanding climate change as a sociopolitical issue. Because politicians and the oil industry have sowed distrust in the severity of climate change, policies and potential solutions to the crisis should be primarily guided by scientific research. Though it’s a complex issue, a scientific lens could help filter out misinformation and political narratives and be the best guide to solving the crisis. Unfortunately, scientific research overwhelmingly shows that we aren’t doing enough as of now.
There are a few policies or policy approaches that could be helpful in saving our future. To start, cars and auto transit contribute a lot of carbon emissions. Our society and infrastructure are designed so that cars are the primary mode of transportation. It’s difficult to imagine a world where driving is not the most convenient mode of transportation, but we can rethink this framework. We can invest in infrastructure programs that make cities more walkable and bikeable, potentially replacing short car trips that account for so much driving. We can invest, expand, and encourage public transportation so it’s convenient for people across the nation.
Furthermore, investing in solar and wind energy is an effective way to mitigate climate change. Solar energy, if implemented on a widespread level in the US, could power eighty percent of residential water heating and cooling needs as well as serve as an alternative to fossil-fueled electricity, which accounts for more than a third of US greenhouse gas emissions (Solar Energy Industries Association). The current model for powering the US. simply is not sustainable, so solar energy could play a significant role in mitigating climate change.
On top of these specific policies, the US government needs to pass legislation that will enact a broad overhaul of our current industries involved in greenhouse gas emissions. One bill that embodies this approach is the controversial Green New Deal. While some of its goals may sound somewhat far-fetched at first glance, its approach is necessary. The New York Times explains that the Green New Deal seeks to “transition one-hundred percent of our electricity generation to renewable sources; build a national, energy-efficient, ‘smart’ grid; upgrade every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety; and transition the manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation industries away from coal, oil, and gas.” The ultimate goal is to transform our economy away from fossil fuels by 2030 and ensure that everyone has clean air and water in ways that prioritize justice and equity.
This sounds overwhelming and to a certain extent, it is. But overwhelming is what we need. This type of broad overhaul of our energy systems would create millions of jobs and tremendously help the environment. These extra jobs will provide many Americans with economic stability and ultimately grow the economy. One might ask about the cost of such government programs, arguing that it is too costly. Admittedly these programs and mitigation efforts would be expensive, however, the cost of allowing climate change to run its course would be far more devastating. The mass floods, wildfires, and weather events would destroy billions of dollars of property. Plus, the mass death that climate change would cause is incalculable.
Though it’s a daunting issue, humanity really has no choice at this point. We must act. The science is quite clear on the severity of climate change as well as the human activity causing it. We are called to act in accordance with science and facts. While some people are generally against increasing government regulation, stopping climate change requires it. Government regulation is not inherently a good or bad thing; it’s a neutral tool that can be used for any purpose. There’s really no better reason for government intervention than a massive crisis like climate change.
Con: Investing in Infrastructure
A Reasonable Response to Climate Alarmism
By Katelyn McCarthy
I shall not attempt to dispute the theory that the climate is changing due to manmade causes. It is unwise to attempt to hold an opinion on something which is beyond one’s scope, and the sheer amount of scientific journals produced on the subject is one which I have barely breached. Running with the assumption, however, that the climate is indeed changing due to manmade causes, I can suggest that the best course of action is not governmental regulation.
Common-sense environmental regulations, like those which prevent corporations from pouring waste chemicals into waterways, are perfectly warranted. Regulations that attempt to alter the global climate, however, are herculean efforts based too much on speculation to be reliable.
It should be remembered by this generation, which is inundated with fearmongering doomsayings as to the state of its planet, that the expectations as to how the climate shall exist in the future are based entirely on computer models—that is, algorithms and programs which, by means of the variables input into them, attempt to determine global temperatures, sea levels, and the like. Could these models be correct? Surely, they could. Could they, instead, be wrong? Indeed, they could. After all, they are but predictions. There’s nothing hard and true about them.
In 1989, for example, the director of the New York branch of the UN Environment Program stated that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000” (Associated Press). Needless to say, we are twenty years past the turn of the century, and nothing of the sort has occurred.
A quick dive into the predictions that have been made regarding climate change quickly indicates that in every few years for the past forty an individual or group will come forth with a statement that the earth shall freeze over (or heat up, or drown--they really cannot make up their minds) within ten years of the proclamation’s issuing. One might argue that these statements are on the extremities and that more reasonable statements as to, for example, the correlation between CO2 emissions and an increase in the global median temperature, are more accurate. Fair enough. But to demand intense governmental regulations (no more plane trips or hamburgers, folks!) is a frantic, albeit ill-effective, response.
Natural disasters will occur regardless of whether or not the climate is changing. A protective solution, unlike little-tested fixes based on speculative climate change models, that is proven to diminish the damage such disasters cause is the furtherance of infrastructure. We know how to build bridges, buildings, and dams that can withstand catastrophes. Those parts of the world that lack these technologies are those which are least prepared for disasters, climate change-caused or otherwise. The most effective solution, therefore, would be to assist those parts of the world in developing and implementing such technologies.
It is objected that misinformation about climate change is spread by corporations who profit from exploiting natural resources. Perhaps, when the corporate wokification process is complete in a few years, this shall no longer be an issue. Until then, however, this objection is entirely sensible. To argue, though, that corporations cannot be trusted but politicians can is to take a wrong turn.
“What’s in it for a politician?” one might ask. “After all, it’s not like they’re out there destroying the planet for monetary gain.” True. But politicians do have something to gain from climate change. Global warming is a global issue that requires a global solution. And a global solution means centralized power. And power is a politician’s best friend.
Government regulation generally hurts the little people and benefits the powerful. If a program like the Green New Deal were to be put in place, one can bet one’s lucky stars that one will be required to follow the regulations or be fined but that politicians and the powerful will not. After all, those politicians and celebrities who most decry climate change are also those with expensive houses on presumably sinking beaches and who take CO2-emitting plane voyages far more often than does the average individual.
Ultimately, the best efforts to focus on are those which are most proven to be efficacious. Human innovation and infrastructure are those solutions, and government regulation ultimately will do nothing but hurt the little people. Perhaps climate change is in the same boat as flying cars: always coming, but never here when it’s supposed to be. Infrastructure, however, is the best protector against anything the earth has to throw at us, and we can build it as quickly as we need it.
The perceived argument from government leaders that regardless of getting the vaccine the nation will not reopen is not encouraging to those who are hesitant to get the vaccine.
By Emmanuel Simon
Most Americans have the opinion that people should get a COVID-19 vaccine since, to quote the CDC, “vaccines currently approved for use in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19…. COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic.” To paraphrase, the vaccines work. But lest one objects by pointing to the variants, the CDC writes, “current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States should work against these variants. For this reason, COVID-19 vaccines are an essential tool to protect people against COVID-19, including against new variants. [The] CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as [the] vaccine is available to you.” According to the CDC then, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
A person who trusts the CDC might think that since more and more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine each day, it just makes sense to reopen the nation. We see, for example, that in Texas most businesses are open, masks are not required, and there are not any stay-at-home orders. One might think that Texas is bound to spike given its loose restrictions. However, the facts state otherwise. The Governor of Texas reopened the state on March 10th, where there was an average of 4,909 newly reported cases. As of April 10th, there was an average of 3,452 newly reported cases. Even with these loose restrictions, newly reported cases decreased rather than increased.
Yet still, critics against reopening the nation aren’t satisfied. Many critics point to how the CDC states that no vaccine is 100% effective and that the evidence is limited as to how the current COVID-19 vaccines work against the variants. Thus, they argue, though we should get the COVID-19 vaccine, it doesn’t follow that we should reopen the nation at the current rate.
What these critics don’t realize is that their arguments against reopening the nation are also arguments against getting the vaccine. If states aren’t to reopen at the rates they are because no vaccine is 100% effective, then with that logic, it also follows that no person should get the vaccine because the ‘experts’ aren’t too sure of the long-term effects of the vaccine. For example, the CDC has been telling us for months that U.S.-approved vaccines are safe. Yet just recently, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is being investigated to be the cause of blood clots in six women. So, if we should slow down America’s reopening process due to uncertainties, then why not also avoid taking all COVID-19 vaccines given the uncertainties of long and short-term effects? The critics who present such an argument against reopening are therefore inconsistent.
Let us take the position backed up by facts and science. The CDC, supported by a majority of scientists, says that the vaccines are effective. Because of this scientific fact, it makes sense why even though there are states like Texas that have practically fully opened, newly confirmed cases are on a decline. It is, therefore, both safe and commonsensical to reopen our America at current rates.
CDC on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/work.html
Data on Newly reported COVID-19 cases in Texas: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/texas-covid-cases.html
Vaccine Passports are the way we gather again and should be supported.
By Riley Mulcahy
Early last year, there was a collective shift in our way of thinking like humans. New guidelines on interacting with people and going out into the world dramatically changed because of COVID-19. Instead of birthday parties and other celebrations, we were told to stay home for a couple of weeks, and we would turn the corner and beat the virus. A year later, we are still restricted in gathering with other people.
How do we get back to a sense of normalcy? If a person was asked this in the Fall of 2020, their answer might be herd immunity or wearing masks, however, in December of 2020, a revolutionary effort came to market: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The notion that a life-saving vaccine would be available in a matter of months was unfathomable; however, America was able to do it,; however there is still hesitancy in continuing the measures that will create a safer future for everyone, including taking the vaccine.
Hesitancy isn’t the correct term. Rather, there is a politzacation and fear amongst conservatives about the vaccine, which was created by former President Trump when he refused to take the pandemic seriously. Instead of acting like a leader, Trump took all of the time in the world to come up with a response, which was to attack Asian Americans by calling the virus the “China Virus,” among other racist terms.
The solution is simple: vaccinate as many Americans as possible to return to a somewhat “normal life.” Countries are announcing that vaccine passports will be implemented, allowing only those who are vaccinated to travel, go to sporting events, and gather. However, for some, this is seen as an attack on their freedom. Just like the mask, a vaccine passport would be taking some type of freedom they can’t put into words at risk. They are struggling to find reasons because for the most part, there are none.
To suggest that a hundred percent of the population trusted the vaccine process from the beginning is absurd. The disconnect comes in when over a hundred million people have been vaccinated, only presenting with rare cases of side effects, and not take it because the government is tracking you. We have been in a pandemic for a year and there is a solution that is or will be available to you; please take it so we can remember COVID as a thing of the past, rather than a recurring nightmare of the present. If the joys of seeing friends and family comes in a vaccine passport that is the least of our worries.
The virus has taken so much away from us, our mental health, friends, family and a way of life we cannot get back, not to mention the death toll that continually rises. President Biden has done his best to bring Americans together, even through a pandemic, but people refusing to protect their fellow Americans causes division. In a year that has taken so much of us, we should not be creating barriers for each other.
Vaccine passports will be how we are able to connect with others. Instead of fighting it,
Americans should embrace the fact that they have a life to live and are able to do the simple acts those who died from COVID-19 virus don’t. The fear that is associated from the vaccine is understandable, however what is not is the manipulation of American’s emotions from politicians who have already have taken the vaccine. Passports are a logical conclusion to a preventable pandemic, and we all should be grateful for what we have, not arguing about freedoms that are not being taken away.
By: Brent Dondalski
In recent years, cancel culture has emerged at the forefront of American discourse. While loosely defined, most people would agree that cancel culture, which carries a negative connotation, is when a celebrity or public figure has their career sabotaged, or “canceled,” by the public because of something they said or did. The process usually takes place online and, in the early stages of cancel culture, the celebrity’s incident was from something in the distant past, such as a 2010 tweet or an old interview. Right now, it’s one of the hottest topics in popular and political discourses. However, my interpretation of cancel culture really boils down to one singular concept: it doesn’t exist.
If my definition of cancel culture sounded vague, it’s because it is. The term is so ill-defined that it has exploded into describing anything and everything. Did a movie director get fired because of old tweets joking about pedophilia? Another victim of cancel culture. Did an actress lose her role because of anti-semitic comments? Another victim of cancel culture. Did a musician get accused of sexual assault? Another victim of cancel culture. These are not hyperbolic examples; these are all real situations in which the “cancel culture” buzzword has been implicated. I’m sure you have realized at this point that the three situations listed are quite unrelated, and that’s the problem: a past tweet does not hold the same gravitas as a rape accusation. Rather than put them in the same conversation, the rational thing to do is to look at each incident individually and decide for yourself if you want to support these people and companies. Yet the cancel culture discussion abstracts the details of each respective incident and defaults to the position that the celebrity is receiving unfair consequences.
This abstraction has been completely intentional and subsequently weaponized to shield people, usually in positions of power, from legitimate criticism. One recent example of cancel culture is the Gina Carano and Disney situation. Gina Carano was an actress for the highly popular, and quite good, Star Wars show The Mandalorian. An outspoken conservative, Carano was ultimately fired by Disney after posting a photo of Jewish people running from death squads during the Holocaust and comparing that persecution to being hated for having “different political views.” Naturally, this firing came after a big push on Twitter to #CancelDisneyPlus. After she was fired, there was of course a counter push, mostly by conservatives, to end cancel culture. Defendants of Carano cite the age-old argument claiming that its horrible to cancel someone just for having a different opinion. Notice how the idea of anti-semitism suddenly left the conversation?
That’s arguably the most common reason people give for why cancel culture is wrong, and simultaneously the reason I say it does not exist. The conversation always gets abstracted into “they got silenced just for having a different opinion.” Well then tell us the opinion. It’s an easy point to make because all you have to do is hide behind saying “different opinion,” then nobody will know why someone got canceled, only that they did and that it was unfair. That different opinion could be that Trump supporters experience the same level of persecution as Jews did during the Holocaust or that pineapple belongs on pizza.
Opinions can be wrong and harmful. Despite all the consensus against it, I could say “murder is a good thing” and it is still technically an opinion. It’s just a horrible, uneducated, and dangerous opinion. The problem with being canceled over “having a different opinion” is that the phrase doesn’t actually tell us anything. It doesn’t mean anything. It tells us that someone is facing consequences and then omits what warranted those consequences, giving the illusion that the consequences are unfitting.
Those perpetuating the cancel culture narrative omit it because the incident is often either racist, sexist, or something equally offensive. Another recent example is Dr. Seuss getting canceled. People were absolutely livid that The Left would go so far as to taking Dr. Seuss off the shelves. Cancel culture had truly gone too far, nobody was safe. Except that isn’t what happened. What happened was that, after months of discussion, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which was founded by Dr. Seuss’s family, decided to cease publishing six Dr. Seuss books because they included some racist stereotypes and caricatures. They announced that “ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families” (AP News). Truly the downfall of society.
The irony is that so many of these scenarios are simply just business decisions. Gina Carano was making a product called The Mandalorian. Consumers then decided they wouldn’t buy the product because of Carano’s ignorant posts. The company, Disney, decided to terminate her employment because it was going to hurt the company. That isn’t cancel culture. That’s the free market. Boycotts have existed for decades and, if anything, cancel culture is just a glorified boycott exaggerated into somehow being the end of western civilization.
The cancel culture narrative is just a tool by the elite to gain sympathy and maintain dominance over the public. Why isn’t it cancel culture when Amazon workers are fired for attempting to unionize? Why isn’t it cancel culture when people bring up George Floyd’s past drug possession charges to justify the police murdering him? Our attention should be towards helping the socially and economically disadvantaged peoples in this country and all cancel culture does is distract from that. When celebrities are canceled they still live comfortable lives. Carano’s net worth is currently reported at $8.5 million (Celeb Net Worth). I honestly struggle to name a public figure whose career is completely over because they were unfairly canceled. Either you have people like Kevin Spacey, who can’t land roles anymore because he sexually assaulted someone, or you have people like James Gunn, who was briefly fired by Disney for several offensive jokes he tweeted many years ago. One of those people absolutely deserved to be canceled, the other one is directing the new Suicide Squad movie.
A response must be given to mass shootings in the US, however, this response should not be gun control.
By Katelyn McCarthy
Most every high-profile instance of gun violence in America is followed by press conferences and social media posts assuring the viewer that an individual’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims. The sentiment of thoughts and prayers, however, has become the “please” to our “yes.” It follows so unthinkingly as to have lost all meaning.
In itself, the promising of prayers to be said in the aftermath of a tragedy is the most efficacious course of action, presupposing, of course, that prayers are actually said. The commending of one’s thoughts to an individual, however, while courteous, doesn’t actually accomplish anything, except, perhaps, to stir one to a course of action.
Some do have a course of action: gun control. The best way to stop gun violence, they argue, is by removing guns, or at least limiting them. The fewer guns there are, the fewer shootings there will be. But is this true?
The concept of gun control cannot be effective because it functions like a bandage placed over a festering wound. On the outside, everything looks smooth and healthy. Underneath, however, there is serious decay.
One sometimes hears the slogan that “Guns don’t kill people—people kill people.” Slogans, of course, are not arguments. But this one offers a valuable point. No firearm ever picked itself up, pointed itself at someone, and pulled its own trigger. A person does that. A broken person. “So,” one might say, “if we take his gun away, our problem will be solved!”
Here is a second slogan for your consideration: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Advocates of abortion and marijuana make the same claim: abortions will occur and marijuana will be purchased even if they’re illegal, they say, so they should be legal. This logic, though, is faulty. That an act will be performed despite its illegality is not grounds for the act becoming legal. People are going to drink and drive even if it’s illegal, but that doesn’t mean it should be legal.
In the case of gun ownership, however, the fact that guns will still be had even if they are illegal is all the more reason that they should stay legal. If guns are outlawed, one would expect that law-abiding citizens, not criminals or lunatics, would be the ones to turn their guns in. Then, when the criminal or lunatic decided to deploy his illegal gun on innocent people, the innocent people would have little with which to defend themselves. But isn’t this, at least in certain areas of the country, already the case?
One might think here about the tactics one is taught to employ should one find oneself in an active shooting: locking doors, shutting windows, blocking entrances, hiding under tables. But why must we be trained to act as sheep in the presence of a wolf? Would not sheep be more likely to survive the wolf if the sheep were not sheep but, say, bears? Rather than instructing someone on how to hide from a shooter, wouldn’t it be better to teach him how to shoot, too?
The best way to stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. There will always be bad guys, and if they want guns, they will get them. Such is the nature of the criminal underworld. Outlawing guns would only put innocent people at the mercy of criminals.
Teaching law-abiding citizens how to protect themselves with firearms is not, however, the ultimate solution. A culture that totally disregards the value of human life, that pays little heed to one’s moral accountability to God, and that denies a significant portion of children a healthy home environment is not one in the best position for creating healthy people. The way to end gun violence is to foster a culture that instills good values, instead of the principles of relativism, secularism, and excessive individualism, in children and adults alike.
Recent allegations of child sex crimes against Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz highlights a pattern of politcians being excused for sexual misconduct.
By Brent Dondalski
Over the past few weeks, reports have come out detailing how Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st District) allegedly trafficked and had sex with “underage women,” as the media sometimes calls them, which are more popularly known as children. The accusations include a myriad of crimes, including paying for flights for these children, exchanging money for sex, and even requesting a preemptive pardon from Trump. While Matt Gaetz denies the validity of these reports, the evidence is embarrassingly abundant and also exposes a larger trend of apathy towards sex crimes when they are committed by powerful individuals.
Though the investigation is ongoing, mountains of evidence are already piling up against Matt Gaetz. This is stemming from an investigation into Florida politician and close friend of Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted on multiple sex trafficking and sex crime charges. The same morning that The New York Times broke this story, rumors emerged about Matt Gaetz retiring from Congress so he can take on a role at Newsmax, an organization that spreads right-wing misinformation. Gaetz already seemed ready for the controversy coming his way.
One of Gaetz’ bizarre defenses against these allegations is that he claims he has been very generous towards his past partners and that the hotel rooms and flights he’s paid for were for a past girlfriend or girlfriends who were definitely of age. Gaetz seems to acknowledge that these excursions took place, with the only disputed fact being of the woman’s or women’s age. In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Gaetz also denied having photos taken of him with child prostitutes, which is strange considering he was never actually accused of this.
Additionally, it’s been reported that Gaetz at one point sought a blanket pardon from Trump, whom he has been a staunch defender of, even through his worst scandals. I’m pretty sure innocent people don’t ask to be pardoned from crimes they think they’ll be convicted of in the future.
The most damning evidence comes from Gaetz’ past Venmo transactions. In May 2018, Gaetz sent $900 to Joel Greenberg, with the description of the transaction reading “Hit up _____.” However, instead of a blank, he wrote the nickname of an 18 year old girl, who, along with two other girls, then received a payment from Greenburg. In fact, for a couple of men approaching their forties Greenburg and Gaetz seem to have a eyebrow-raising amount of interactions with really young women on the Venmo platform. Seminole County auditors took note of these transactions, and found similarly questionable transactions amounting to over $300,000 between the two politicians.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are a few key pieces of evidence belonging to a much more extensive investigation. At this point Matt Gaetz is looking pretty guilty, however, he is just one example of a politician committing a sex crime. Issues of sexual assault and sex trafficking are made worse when surrounding politicians, pundits, and journalists are quick to defend such indefensible actions. In his interview with Matt Gaetz, Tucker Carlson began by admitting he had not prepared any questions for the interview and that Gaetz was invited on simply to “tell us what the truth is from [Gaetz’] perspective.” Of course, finding new ways to spit on journalistic integrity is nothing new for Fox News, but this invitation to have an accused rapist get on stage and tell us whatever “the truth” is reveals just how apathetic journalists can be towards issues of sex crimes.
Of course, this attitude is very much partisan. Fox News would certainly have no issue running a story on trafficking allegations if they were made towards a Democrat. Conversely, more moderate-liberal news outlets might be reluctant to seriously report on allegations made towards prominent Democrat politicians. Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, and the story struggled to pick up mainstrem traction from moderate-liberal outlets. Donald Trump has his very obvious history of misogyny and sexual assault.
It seems we as a society have almost accepted that sex crimes come with the package of being president. In fact, you could extend this logic to politicians too. It feels like people almost expect politicians to carry a certain questionable history. Is this attitude surprising though?
Sexual assault is normalized. Apathy towards sex trafficking is normalized. Predatory behavior, especially by older men, is normalized. The solution to cases like the Matt Gaetz scandal doesn’t solely lie within a conviction, which would be legal accountability, but also starts with attacking problematic attitudes as a form of cultural accountability. We saw shades of this with the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, which forced Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood personnel to finally face the consequences of their actions.
We can’t just point our finger once someone is accused or convicted of a crime. We must scrutinize behavior that normalizes sexual assault. That means when Matt Gaetz tweets “I say we change Florida’s welcome signs to this” in response to a tweet reading “there’s no age that you can’t be be sexy,” we can’t look away. When Nick Fuentes, a conservative streamer who is either a Neo-Nazi or friends with a lot of Neo-Nazis, can tweet “17 years old? What is even the big deal” and still keep his blue checkmark from Twitter, we can’t look away. When the president brags on a radio show about not getting consent, we can’t look away.
When people engage in behavior that disrespects victims of sexual assault, often times they’re telling on themselves. Matt Gaetz being the only “NO” vote on a 2017 anti-human trafficking bill is as symbolic as it is disgusting. I can only imagine what skeletons Nick Fuentes has in his closet if he’s willing to come out as pro-statutory rape. We must pay close attention to all the red flags that pop up in someone’s behavior and be willing to scrutinize them intensely since these behaviors are paving the way for sexual assault. If you can’t confront a culture that encourages misogyny and sexual misconduct, especially within the elite and powerful, then holding them legally accountable will be infinitely more difficult.
In response to recent mass shootings the majority of Americans are calling for gun reform, yet politicians continue to ignore the calls.
By Riley Mulcahy
Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic first started, there was a silence in America. This silence became a welcomed respite for a country that has struggled to contain gun violence for decades, however with states beginning to open up; there has been a resurgence of mass shootings in America. Many news outlets define the term “Mass Shooting” as a shooting that involves four or more victims. Just in 2021 alone, there have been more than 120 mass shootings across the country, and we are not even five months into the year.
America has a domestic terrorism problem, and the solution is not as tricky as politicians in Washington want you to believe. There need to be universal background checks, a ban on assault, military-style weapons that are often used for shootings, and more education on mental health. Republicans argue that humans are responsible for the shooting, not the gun. Although this sounds logical in theory, that is where it ends. We do not hear reports of mass stabbings or mass beatings that result in dozens dead. People struggling with mental illness should not have access to guns, and the general public should not have access to firearms that have one use: to kill enemies without the need to reload your weapon.
Even when little kids have died from gun violence, there is a lack of action amongst politicians. In 2012, Americans thought that maybe a gunman going into Sandy Hook elementary school and killing innocent students might affect some change. However, the most action that there has been in regards to Sandy Hook is conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones going after victims and calling them “crisis actors.”
When high schoolers took action after the 2018 Parkland High School shooting, there was a feeling that something might happen. Instead, students again were attacked and told to “learn CPR instead of marching” by disgraced former Senator (R-PA) Rick Santorum. The process of enacting meaningful change will ruffle a few feathers, but Santorum’s statement is not a few feathers. Sadly, it shows how America views the Second Amendment and guns in this country, that firearms and the protection of assault-style weapons are more important than innocent children’s lives.
How do we go forward? Although there are actionable steps, it has been discouraging to see Washington’s lack of legislative progress. Gun control is needed in a country that cannot control Americans by shooting innocent Americans, and we have reached that point. Even though Democrats won back the government in 2020, if we do not end the filibuster, any meaningful laws will be at the hands of the Republicans, hands that have blood on them. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, came out in the last weeks denouncing any filibuster reform, which means gun reform will likely die on the Senate floor. Even though he lost the election, Minority Leader McConnell is smiling. He knows that he has the votes to block gun reform, which considering the NRA’s influence in Republican politics, is a massive win for him. The minority party should not have the power to change the American people’s will, especially when there are lives at stake.
The majority of Americans want gun reform. Eighty million people voted for Biden under the pretense that real change would finally happen with gun reform, correcting America’s racial inequalities and an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. When everyone is struggling, there is a need to become bold in protecting American citizens, not shy away from it due to old archaic and racist rules such as the filibuster and the electoral college. America has the right to vote for America’s vision every four years, and the current administration mustn’t take responsibility for granted.
If anyone is the blame for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst Americans its politicians who have exploited the vaccine for their political agendas.
By Emmanuel Simon
Many Americans are ecstatic that COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available for the general public, thinking that the world can finally return back to normal once enough people are vaccinated. Yet, there are a minority of Americans who remain skeptical of whether they should get the COVID-19 vaccine in its current form. Given the utter inconsistency of how America was and is handling the vaccine, I don’t blame them.
Many of us still remember current Vice President Kamala Harris’ words and attitude regarding the development of the COVID-19 vaccine during her Vice-Presidential debate with Pence. “If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take [the COVID-19 vaccine], I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely. If Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not taking it.” Vice President Harris has severely damaged the vaccine’s credibility since most of its development was done under the Trump administration. Yet, even though Trump advocates for others to get vaccinated, Harris still decided to get the vaccine.
Furthermore, the governor of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, has also damaged the credibility of the vaccine prior to the Biden/Harris administration. In an interview, the governor is recorded saying, “you’re going to say to the American people now, ‘here’s a vaccine, it was new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration and their health administration that it’s safe? And we’re not one-hundred-percent sure of the consequences.’ I think it’s going to be a very skeptical American public about taking the vaccine, and they should be.” Here, the governor seems to have a point, the vaccine is new, was done quickly, and we’re not one-hundred-percent sure of its consequences. Hence, the CDC claims, “...The FDA and CDC continue to monitor Vaccine safety to make sure even long-term side effects are identified.” In other words, the CDC and FDA have to pay attention to the vaccine in order to learn more about the short and long term side effects, implying that they don’t know what all the side effects are. But because they do not know all the side effects of the vaccine, it logically follows that they do not know whether some of the side effects are more deadly than the virus itself! There is, therefore, good reason to be skeptical of the vaccine in its current state. But now, Governor Cuomo flopped on the issue. On April 1st, the governor took pride in the fact that more than 9.5 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across New York. One would hope that Cuomo’s utter inconsistency is merely an April fools joke rather than a failure to properly reason.
One who is skeptical about taking the vaccine might wonder how it was that Vice President Harris and Governor Cuomo felt more comfortable with taking and administering the vaccine. Former President Trump advocates for people to take the vaccine, so why did Harris decide to take it, given her stance? What made Cuomo more certain that there is nothing to fear in receiving the vaccine? One wonders whether there was anything to fear in the first place and whether Harris and Cuomo merely put on an act to show their disgust and disapproval with Trump. If such is the case, then Harris and Cuomo were and are playing politics with people’s lives.
But, giving Harris and Cuomo the benefit of the doubt, let’s suppose that the skepticism toward the vaccine was justifiable six months ago. Is it still justifiable now?
Well, let’s see. One might think that those who get both doses of the vaccine no longer have to be masked since such persons would be immune to the virus. Apparently, that's not the case. We are told that one can still be a carrier of the virus even if one is vaccinated and does not feel any symptoms. For that reason, one must remain masked. Furthermore, according to the ‘experts’, the vaccine isn’t fully effective, and therefore one might be able to get sick from the virus. For this reason, one must continue to act as if one were an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Again, to echo Cuomo’s earlier words, we don’t even know whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its side effects. Finally, at our college, students who are either vaccinated or unvaccinated still need to take a COVID-19 test. Looking at all these facts, it should be obvious that there isn’t any benefit for people who aren’t at risk to take the vaccine, since one still has to live as if one were not vaccinated, and, as seen earlier from the CDC’s implication, the long term effects of the current vaccines are unknown, and therefore may or may not be more detrimental than COVID-19 itself. We just don’t know.
Personally, I’m not even against getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If I am given an opportunity to receive the vaccine and I think it prudent to take it at that given moment, I see no reason why I shouldn’t get it. But, those skeptical about taking the vaccine make a powerful case as to why one should be skeptical, and their justifications shouldn’t go unnoticed. Their reasons have persuaded me to wait a bit longer before taking the vaccine, and, until their justifications are no longer valid, I see no reason why any person not at risk of the virus should hurry to take the vaccine.
Harris on taking the Trump Administration’s Vaccine: https://twitter.com/ABC/status/1314013262082723840?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1314013262082723840%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.businessinsider.com%2Fkamala-harris-rejects-a-coronavirus-vaccine-from-trump-2020-10
Cuomo on COVID Vaccine skepticism:
Link from the CDC including a section on serious, long-term, or unknown side effects:
Madison Sciba '24,