It’s Time To Change the Gun “Debate”

In response to the mass shooting that took place in my home state last week, President Obama said “we are collectively answerable” to the families of the victims of mass gun violence. I appreciate the political factors behind that statement, but I disagree strongly. Responsibility for gun violence does not rest on the shoulders of the policymakers and advocates who have tirelessly worked to enact gun control laws, to no avail. Nor does responsibility rest on the shoulders of the majority of Americans who support background checks for prospective gun purchasers and bans on assault weapons.

The president also said (this time correctly) that “gun violence is a political choice.” It is a choice made, not by all of us collectively, but by those among us who refuse to lend their support to smart gun control policies. And it is a choice which resulted directly in the deaths of ten Oregonians in Roseburg last week, many of them teenagers, and hundreds of thousands of other people across the county over the last decade.

The president’s comments should spur us to think about the conversation we routinely have after every incident of mass gun violence – why has it continually failed to produce meaningful reforms?

The answer is simply that it’s the wrong conversation. We respond too readily with lines like “we can have common sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals.” These responses, while ostensibly true, disperse the culpability for gun violence to such a degree that nobody feels compelled to change their behavior or their beliefs. This mode of arguing has been useless for achieving lasting and effective changes to our gun policies: 406,496 Americans were killed by a gun between 2001 and 2013, and mass shootings are happening more frequently than at any time in the past three decades.

It is time for a new line of thinking (and arguing) that focuses on the true impetus behind gun violence in America, and which shines a bright light on the actors responsible for bringing that impetus about. The fact of the matter is that there is only one factor contributing to the frequency of mass shootings. It isn’t mental illness. It isn’t evil. It isn’t poverty or drugs or religious extremism. Those things exist everywhere. The one variable that exists here at a level unparalleled in any other country, and which by every quantifiable metric is causally connected to our outlandish death-by-gun rate, is wholesale opposition to gun control.

From this point forward, our response to mass shootings should be one which centers around anti-gun control advocacy as a causal contributor to gun violence, and which casts those who engage in it as active participants in each and every mass shooting that takes place. I’ll go first:

If you continue to pay membership dues to the NRA, you had a hand in the deaths of ten Oregonians last week.

If you helped to elect a Tea Party candidate to Congress, you had a hand in the deaths of ten Oregonians last week.

If you refuse to support assault weapons bans and universal background checks even when those policies would have no discernible impact on your life, you had a hand in the deaths of ten Oregonians last week.

Either you support strong gun control, or you’re comfortable with your role in promoting domestic terrorism and murder. There is no gray area.

I would like to submit for the record that gun ownership (even gun fanaticism) and support for strong gun control are not mutually exclusive ideas, and in pointing my finger at gun advocates I don’t mean to suggest that gun ownership on its own confers complicity in gun violence. Rather, I intend to suggest that specific actions like supporting the NRA and Tea Party politicians, and opposing gun laws, should be taken for what they are: tacit endorsements of the status quo, and meaningful contributions to each and every instance of gun violence in the U.S.

As the president said, this is a political choice. So let’s start treating it like one, and maybe anti-gun control advocates will finally start feeling some pressure to account for the consequences of their actions. It may be a long shot, but I’d really like not to have to do this all over again in a few months.

Kim Davis Has Declared War on Red Lobster

Rowan County, Kentucky: Kim Davis, a local Christian woman, has gained notoriety for her enthusiastic support of the Bible passage that forbids eating shellfish and assaulting people trying to enter the town’s Red Lobster. She states that because the Bible declares that consuming shellfish is an “abomination”, it is her duty to prevent others from entering the restaurant and damning themselves to eternal hellfire. She said she will use any means necessary to achieve this goal.

“It is not a light issue for me. It’s a Heaven or Hell decision,” she said to local reporters, while executing a flawless armbar on an elderly man.

“God grows angrier with every order of oyster shooters, or lobster tails with sides of butter, or baskets of cajun seasoned crawfish…” her voice trailed off and her eyes appeared to glaze over. “Ma’am? You alright?” a bystander asked in concerned voice. “Oh, yeah, I was just thinking about… all the sinnin’… going on in there,” her eyes drifted to the restaurant. With a half-hearted sigh she landed a left hook into the man’s solar plexus.

When asked by a reporter what her response would be if, for instance, a Muslim waiter refused to serve her ham based on his religious beliefs, Davis responded, “Well that whole premise is stupid, I wouldn’t let no Muslim be my waiter.” She punctuated her statement by scissor kicking a passing couple.

Mike Huckabee (R, AR) flew in to show support for her brave resilience.

“You know, it takes courage to stand against the Lobster Agenda that’s trying to destroy the sanctity of our dinner. Nowadays, folks are saying stuff like ‘but I don’t believe in that part of the Bible’ and ‘I can’t help it that I like crab legs’ and ‘mind your own fucking business you twat’. But by standing up for what she believes in, she is bravely making other people submit to what she believes in. And isn’t that what living in a free country is all about?”

The thunderous applause was interrupted only by the whimpering of a child who thought he could sneak into the restaurant past the vigilant defender. But he was wrong. Punched wrong.

An Evolution of Texting, and Why I Can’t “Text My Age”

One of the strangest things about being a recent college grad is realizing that, to the rest of the world, you look like an adult, even though, in reality, your life is in shambles and you have no clue what you’re doing. On being launched out of the academic bubble, one of the things I have struggled with is how I am supposed to text now that I am no longer a college kid but a real live adult.

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I don’t mean physically how do I text. I’m a millennial, even if it isn’t a term I particularly identify with—which ironically is supposed to be typical of most millennials… bit of a Catch-22, huh? I matured side-by-side with the Internet and have had a cell phone since the Sixth Grade. Texting is part of my daily life. But as I have undergone this shift from school to Real Life, I have begun to reflect on the way that I text.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told that I text like a “ratchet thirteen year old” for using acronyms or not spelling out full words. Text your age!! Seems to be their silent plea. But it is so second nature for me to drop the “y” and “o” of the word “you” that I even hit my parents with a “love u” at the end of conversations instead of writing out its three letter form. If you know what I mean when I just type a letter, do I really need to spell it out for you?

Text your age!! Seems to be their silent plea.

As it turns out, my texting progression has come full circle as I’ve grown up. At first, using one of the countless Motorola Razrs I inevitably smashed, I would type as tersely as possible. I mean who really had the patience to click those little keys the thousand times it took to fully spell out a word?

Instant Messaging emerged on the computer and abbreviations quickly established a regular place in our lexicon. “Sup?” or even “wyd?” were commonly answered with “sos” “nm” “jc” and then the reply inquiry, “u?” We could speed type on both our computers and our phones, and understood each others’ shorthand perfectly.

Then high school hit. Now I was fourteen I didn’t need to text like the silly child I was in middle school anymore. I still had a navy blue Razr, but I was mature: I exchanged my single letters and acronyms for full words. Though I never had a Blackberry (I begged to be allowed to BBM my friends), I can imagine the advent of the full keyboard definitely influenced the resurgence of fully typed out words.

And finally, the iPhone: with autocorrect and autofill and the ability to type almost as quickly as you thought. But there’s the key part: almost as quickly as you thought, but not quite. The regression to letters was inevitable. Your phone would learn your frequently used abbreviations (it would also pick up your drunk typos and random capitalizations…) so using them became unconscious. By now, most people of our generation were typing pretty much in the same way, so shorthand was not only accepted, but it became a sort of norm.

It was not until this year that I experienced any sort of backlash for the way I text. My friends said that I typed in my own language, using “abt” instead of about, “esp” instead of especially, “tomo” instead of tomorrow, and, the classic, “u” instead of you. But otherwise I spelled most things out, my texting style hadn’t really changed much in four years, and people still knew what I meant, so what was the problem?’

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As graduation neared I lay in bed one night seriously contemplating the way that I text. Would that fly in the real world? I definitely wouldn’t type the way I usually do to employers, or even people that I was texting for the first time. My friends were already teasing me for my “ghetto” texting. Were my days of shorthand typing and abbreviations nearing an end?

The answer so far has been no. I definitely do type out full words more often than I used to, but some shorthand has stuck with me—and I know I am not the only one guilty of this!

We live in an increasingly digital age, and texting by some has come to be thought of as its own dialect within the English language. The way we text is considered more akin to the way we think or speak than the way we would write a paper or a letter. Just because I use my little shorthands doesn’t mean that I struggle with the English language—I literally was an English major. Maybe I am just a really lazy texter. Maybe it shows that I think faster than my fingers can move. Or maybe, just maybe, on some subconscious level it means that the “ratchet thirteen year old” inside of me isn’t ready to grow up.

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Political Event Calendar Everyone Needs to Know About

Want to understand this year’s election political memes but never know when the debates are? Well, look no further. The Daily Twenties put together a list of the important dates to look out for, so you don’t miss another opportunity to mock Trump via Twitter in real time.

To break it down for all you political dummies out there, we are still in the process of choosing a Democratic and Republican nominee for the upcoming election in 2016. They are elected state by state in two different ways: through a caucus or through a primary election. A caucus is system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support and send to the convention. A primary election is a statewide voting process where voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates. States either have a caucus or a primary election.

Currently five Democratic Presidential candidates are in the race for the nominees, whereas the GOP party has a whopping fifteen Republican Presidential candidates.

The major candidates to watch in each party, so far, are Secretary Hillary “I Did Not Have Relations with That Email” Clinton and Senator Bernie “Granola” Sanders for the Democrats.

For the GOP, Donald “You’re Fired” Trump, Carly “GOP’s Last Chance For Female Voters” Fiorina, Dr. Ben “Scrubs” Carson, Governor Jeb “I’m Not My Brother” Bush (FL) and Sen. Marco “The Baby” Rubio (FL) are a handful of the many candidates to watch.

As of now, these are the major events and happenings in this 2015-2016 Presidential Election season.

October, 2015

10/13: CNN will host a debate for Democratic nominees.* Time and candidates TBD.

10/28: CNBC debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

November, 2015

11/14: CBS debate for all Democratic nominees. Time TBD.

December, 2015

12/15: CNN debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

12/19: ABC debate for all Democratic nominees. Time TBD.

January, 2016

1/17: NBC debate for all Democratic nominees. Time TBD.

February, 2016

2/1: Iowa Caucus

2/9: New Hampshire Caucus

2/6: ABC debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

2/13: CBS debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

2/20: Nevada caucus (Democratic candidates)

South Carolina (GOP candidates)

2/23: Nevada caucus (GOP candidates)

2/27: South Carolina caucus (Democratic candidates)

2/26: NBC debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

March, 2016

3/1: Caucus for CO and MN

Primary election for AL, AK, AR, GA, MA, NC, OK, TN, TX, VT, and VA

3/5: Caucus for KS, KY (GOP), and NE (Dem)

Primary election for LA

3/8: GOP Caucus for HI

Primary election for MS and MI

3/10: CNN debate for the Republican nominees. Time and candidates TBD.

3/13: Primary election for Puerto Rico (GOP)

3/15: Primary election for FL, IL, MO, and OH

3/22: Primary election for AZ and UT

3/26: Democratic Caucus for AK and HI

April, 2016

4/5: Primary election in WI

4/19: Primary election in NY

4/26: Primary election in CT, DE, MD, PA, and RI

May, 2016

5/3: Primary election in IN

5/10: Primary election in NE (GOP) and WV

5/17: Primary election in KY (Dem) and OR

June, 2016

6/5: Primary election in Puerto Rico (Dem)

6/7: Primary election in CA, MT, NJ, NM, and SD

6/14: Primary election in Washington DC

July, 2016

7/18-7/21: 2016 Republican National Convention held in Cleveland, OH.

7/25-7/28: 2016 Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia, PA.

September, 2016

9/27: National Voter Registration Day

November, 2016

11/8: The United States Presidential Election Day of 2016

If you live in ND, ID, ME, WA or WY, your state has no firm date set for primary election day. As nominees are chosen and swing states** are created, this list will be filled with all-you-can-read dates, events and happenings regarding this upcoming election, so check back in accordingly!

*This is the first Democratic Primary debate THIS season, aka set your DVR’s now, because it’s going to be big. The five major Democratic candidates will face off in this debate.

** A swing state is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state’s electoral college votes. These states normally decide the outcome on general election day.

Racial Identity in Corporate Entertainment

Roman Reigns is one of the most popular (and most controversial) wrestlers working for the WWE today. Roman Reigns – whose real name is Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoa’i – has enjoyed much success in the WWE, first with the tag team/stable “The Shield” (with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) to headlining a wildly successful Wrestlemania 31 main event match earlier this year. 

Reigns, also half-Italian via his mother, hails from the Samoan Anoa’i family, a multigenerational professional wrestling dynasty whose most famous member is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The WWE develops storylines around the familial relationships with all of these wrestlers. Currently, the company acknowledges Roman Reigns and the Usos as real-life cousins.

However, former WWE writer Kevin Eck recently posted on his blog that the company, allegedly, ordered the writers and broadcasters not to acknowledge Reigns’ relation to the Anoa’i family on the grounds that it would associate him with Samoan identity.

Yet, CEO Vince McMahon and COO Paul Levesque (better known as Triple H) vetoed the idea on the grounds that they could not acknowledge Roman Reigns as Samoan. As Eck said:

“[McMahon and Levesque’s] belief was that it would pigeonhole [Reigns] and damage his mystique. The inference was that the audience had a preconceived notion of what a Samoan wrestler is. You know, a guy in a grass skirt who wears a puka shell necklace.”

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This statement is somewhat alarming because it reveals the ongoing struggles non-white performers face with race even to this day. While the WWE has yet to comment on these allegations, it is no secret that the WWE has a sordid history with race and racism.

Should we ignore one’s racial and ethnic identity to prevent stereotypes? What are the implications in ignoring these identities?

To answer the first question, not acknowledging one’s racial identity, or “colorblindness,” is not a viable option in preventing racism. Colorblindness does not prevent both interpersonal and structural realities of racism against people of color, which include stereotypes as well as disproportionate rates of unemployment, incarceration, and wealth disparities.

One cannot “unsee” race/ethnicity (as both skin color and culture) anymore than they can unsee other visible characteristics such as gender/sex and size. Rather, how people choose to act upon each other’s race is what defines interracial contact.

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As such, ignoring Reigns identity would not have disassociated whatever the audience’s preconceived notions would have been at the time.

More insidiously, by erasing a person of color’s cultural identity, one is essentially problematizing their existence by not being white. “Whiteness” is summarized by Audrey Thompson who says:

“Whiteness-privileging mechanisms work in several, sometimes paradoxical ways. For example, on the one hand, whiteness is normalized; it is taken for granted and therefore invisible. On the other hand, it is treated as preferable.”

Some scholars tend to understand post-racialism or colorblindness as a pattern of which to establish a “default.” As such, any racial/ethnic identity that is not white is immediately “othered.” Sometimes, this othering can manifest in exoticizing identities (such as Asians, Latinos, mixed races, etc.) or criminalizing them altogether (Blacks, Latinos, etc.).

Whatever way the othering presents itself, the result is ultimately the same: the person’s identity is as too distracting to the norm. The “other” is not allowed to function as individual similar to those who inhabit the norm; rather that person must act as a representative, if not the very essence of their identity as preconceived by the audience.

Can people’s racial and/or ethnic identities be acknowledged in public without being attached to stereotypes? The answer is yes. As such, corporations, artists, and audiences alike must share the burden in imagining all groups of people of color as being a diverse range of personalities and appearances.

The Usos perform the traditional Samoan Siva Tau dance before matches while their cousin Roman Reigns remains a stoic powerhouse dressed in military garb. Their current success in presenting different versions of Polynesian men is indicative of how ignoring someone’s cultural identity is nothing more than lazy uninspired thinking