The incurable disease of senioritis

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here reaches a point in every teen’s life when one realizes their high school is ending. This is called senioritis, and it might as well be an actual, clinical disease.

The early symptoms seem normal. Hitting the submit button on the last college application and beginning to hear back from schools is definitely an incredible feeling.

But the moment I officially committed to the University of Montana, I began thinking less about high school and more about my future and how different my life will be in five months. That’s when senioritis hit me. And, for me, it’s terminal.

Long before my self-diagnosis, I found myself often bored after school. It was hard to get motivated, especially as second semester approached.

So, I took the matters of motivation into my own hands and found myself doing stuff that I actually enjoy. I figured if I found motivation for other things in life, such as a part-time job, school would come easier. However, the opposite occurred.

And that’s when the symptoms really flared up.

Symptom 1: prioritizing sleep over homework.

I don’t get much sleep anymore because I often work late. The loss of sleep makes me lose even more motivation for school. And as a result, I began prioritizing sleep over homework.

Years ago, I would never have even let that thought cross my mind, especially not in junior year.

Symptom 2: excessive tardiness.

As a freshman, I always made sure to show up at least 10 minutes early to school. For the rare times I was late, I would basically get a sick feeling in my gut that lasted all day long.

But now, when I wake up late, since I already know I’m late to class, rather than rushing, I take my time and have a huge breakfast or grab a cup of coffee before sauntering in under the 30 minute “truant tardy” cutoff.

Senioritis is not all bad, however. Experiencing the “disease” has been a learning opportunity for me. Through my job, I have effectively learned how to work on a team and have come to value the significance of a good work ethic. These are skills I could actually apply to my later life and that will help me in the future.

Senioritis allows students to experience what life is like outside of school, and for that reason, we should embrace it as a natural part of life.

So class of 2019, embrace your academic death.

 

Leone’s Chronicle: The feud between religious rights and the LGBT community

The Supreme Court began hearing the arguments for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on Dec. 5. The lawsuit began after Jack Phillips, a devout Christian, declined to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig.  He offered to sell the couple any other premade cakes as he did not feel comfortable customizing a cake endorsing a lifestyle which went directly against his religious beliefs.

Proponents of Mullins and Craig argue that a ruling set by the Supreme Court in favor of Masterpiece Cake Shop would allow people to reject serving others in restaurants, hotels, and other markets. To prevent this, the court needs to create a precedent narrow enough to protect religious freedoms but not wide enough to overturn Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. US and the anti-discrimination laws in the Civil Rights Act, both of which made equal service in restaurants, hotels and public accommodations.

Mullins and Craig’s counsel has successfully painted Phillips as a vindictive bully and bigot. Phillips however, behaved very reasonably. He politely declined making the cake for Mullins and Craig, then offered to sell them any other. The couple screamed, cussed, and made obscene gestures at the bakery employees, reported Fox Business. For weeks afterwards, Masterpiece Cakeshop was harassed with phone calls insulting Phillips with terrible names and taunting his faith.

The couple’s behavior was despicable. Phillips is a man of faith who wants to design his cakes and live his life, not to be at the center of the massive national spotlight. He treats every customer with respect, even if their desired cakes do not align to his religion.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is so much more than religious bakers versus the LGBT community. This case is about the right of religious liberty and freedom of speech. To command an artist to create a work expressing views he does not endorse is blatant bullying. It is wrong to force a gay baker to design a cake pushing an anti-LGBT agenda. Bakers have certain parameters about what cakes they will or will not make, and nobody has had a big problem with it until now.

It is so much more important to protect freedom of expression than the right to a cake. Although Phillips is instructed by clients on what cake to make for each occasion, he still expresses himself through his unique style. Phillips isn’t asking for any extra rights. He simply wants to use his artistic abilities in a way that is consistent with his personal beliefs.

Issues with forced expression in the Supreme Court has come up just like this in the past in the court case Wooley v. Maynard. The words “Live Free or Die” are stamped on the New Hampshire license plates. Jehovah’s Witnesses successfully took the issue to court and were allowed to reject the view they do not hold by covering the word up with tape. Religiously, the Jehovah’s witnesses didn’t feel free, and the courts recognized it. The precedent set in Wooley v. Maynard allowed for increased religious freedom over forced expression, similar to what Philips’ lawyers are asking for.

In a capitalist society like our own, selling goods is an agreement where both parties consent to trade. However, Mullins and Craig are arguing they deserve the ability to demand a wedding cake without the consent of the other party. This idea of forcing labor against consent is deranged and un-American. It’s why companies have the right to refuse service.

Nobody is entitled to a wedding cake. Nobody deserves to be forced to labor. But a ruling in favor of Mullins and Craig would lead to exactly that: artists being forced to create works that jeopardize their own personal views.

Leone’s Chronicle: Just say Merry Christmas

As the Christmas season rolls around, it’s pretty obvious the spirit of the holidays has undergone change over the last few years. Just a few years ago, December was marked with beautiful Starbucks cups, Christmas trees and lights in storefronts and greeting each other with “Merry Christmas!”

Now, the month of December is not “Christmas season” anymore. It’s “holiday season.”

It’s not just corporations that have phased out Christmas spirit. I get odd stares from waiters, teachers and friends when I tell them “Merry Christmas.” Almost every store has winter-themed decorations and few are brave enough to put up a Christmas tree.

Proponents of the term “Happy Holidays” claim it’s a minor change for everyone, but so much effort goes into stripping down Christmas-related garb.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) have initiated efforts to remove Christmas from advertising and public displays through lawsuits and boycotts. In the town of Mesquite, NV, teachers were no longer able to say the words Merry Christmas on campus according to David Courtman, an attorney on the case. Courtman noted how employees at most major corporations can no longer wish their customers a merry Christmas without their company risking formal complaints or legal action.

For example last year, students at the University of North Carolina were forced to sell “holiday” trees instead of Christmas trees to fundraise for their clubs out of “respect for other religions.” I guess the holiday of giving is offensive.

Except, the fact is that the majority of Americans are not happy with the greeting of “Happy Holidays.” According to a study by Rasmussen Reports, a little over two-thirds of Americans prefer to be greeted with “Merry Christmas” by companies instead of “Happy Holidays.”

Furthermore, the ACLU has discussed initiatives to remove secularly-celebrated Christmas as a national holiday. In doing so, millions of federal employees would lose a day off for Christmas, and companies across many states would no longer be required to give holiday pay to workers or even allow workers the day off.

It would be one thing if a small minority of Americans celebrate Christmas, either religiously or secularly. However, a Pew Research study found that 92 percent of Americans, a large portion being non-Christians, celebrate Christmas.

The group of non-Christians who celebrate Christmas generally do so completely secularly. Non-religiously celebrated, the day turns from a holiday of Jesus’ birth to a day of giving, family and feasts.

Besides, Christmas, celebrated secularly, is a national holiday. Without the religious aspect of the 25th, Christmas could still be celebrated as the day of giving. There is nothing religious about lights, trees and giving gifts. I wish my fellow Americans a merry Christmas because it is a secular national holiday.

So please, celebrate the greatest treasure in life this 25th. The gift of giving and the treasure of family, or the day of Jesus’s birth. Merry Christmas to all.

Leone’s Chronicle: Feminists should be pro-gun

It’s basic biology for men to be physically stronger than women. Studies show that muscle mass in men is generally 40 percent more than the amount of muscle mass in women. Even well-trained female fighters fall defeated to untrained men solely due to larger muscle mass and larger size. Although female self-defense training is offered at many locations, it is still not as effective as female firearm empowerment.

Last February, five feminists met and discussed the issue of protection at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Together, they discussed the outstanding virtues of concealed carry permits for women and the effects of safeguarding through armament.

Between 1966 and 1967, the media highly publicized a safety course that taught Orlando women how to use guns. The study of crime control through the private use of armed force found that Orlando’s rape rate dropped 88 percent in 1967, whereas the rape rate remained constant in the rest of Florida and the nation. Although it is an old study, it still holds up to modern standards. Gun training for small firearms is relatively the same as it was 50 years ago. Guns give those on the defensive empowerment, and criminals know that.

David Kepler, a constitutional law professor at the University of Denver, conducted a study relating the lack of guns to rape in the US and the UK. He concluded that in the UK, where it is virtually impossible to own a gun, women are three times more likely to get raped than in the US. With properly reformed background checks, guns could be in the hands of the defendant and out of the hands of the perpetrator.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, around 200,000 women have used handguns to prevent against sexual assault. Extreme gun control and the countrywide removal of guns could result in a greater number of women sexually assaulted annually.

There is always the possibility for the rapist to seize the weapon, turning rape into murder. However, that scenario is very unlikely. With the use of concealed carry weapons, only three percent of rapes were successful. Such a low rate was achieved simply by brandishing the weapon to the sexual offenders.  

One might think studies such as these would have feminists racing to get carry permits, but the gun market is generally a male driven industry. Although 62 percent of gun owners are male, the 263 percent industry in the number of concealed carry permits during the obama administration is believed by experts to be spearheaded by women.

Yet it’s been proven the increase in guns and concealed carry permits that have been responsible for lower crime. A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that states which allowed concealed carry laws had their rape rates drop by 5 percent and assault rates by 7 percent. In those states alone, it’s estimated that around 4,177 rapes and 60,000 assaults were prevented by concealed carry permits.

I believe in the same issue as feminists. Rape and sexual assault should end entirely. Female gun ownership shouldn’t be a Republican policy alone. Once we as a society understand that women are much more protected when armed, gun ownership would be bipartisan.

Leone’s Chronicle: The extremism we don’t talk about

I remember hearing about the Charlottesville protests long before it happened. I made sure I remembered the dates so that I could watched a livestream of the protest from a local Charlottesville news organization, not because I agreed with the protesters at all, but to see what was going on there.

I was, of course, disgusted by the ideas conveyed in the protest, and by members of the racist, hateful “alt-right.” But what surprised me even more was that I was equally disgusted by members of the “alt-left” countering the protest with riots.

I watched an ‘“anti-fascist” group counter this protest. They called themselves Antifa, short for anti-fascist, and were completely black-clothed and carried clubs, bats and other weapons. And their ideology is what political experts such as Mark Bray call the “Hard left” — violent responders to corporations, fascists and white supremacists.

The group is monolithic, without a strong central leadership, but it has local riot organizers who spread the word of protest. The main political demographic of the group are those who reject classic American values of free market capitalism — anarchists, socialists and communists.

What surprised me was how they fought “fascism.” I watched in Charlottesville as they traveled in a large pack and attacked the white supremacists with clubs and bats. Real fascist dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler were known to suppress other ideas by using sheer force of violence, similar to the way Antifa itself handles protests which they don’t agree with.

Two weeks ago, a group of late-night comedians, “Louder With Crowder,” infiltrated Utah Antifa and exposed its tactics to shut down right-wing speaker Ben Shapiro at the University of Utah. Organizers of the Utah Antifa demonstration distributed ice picks and knives and instructed the members to stab the attendees. The group mentioned how they had “two [AK-47s] for backup.” It was fairly obvious the guns were not for self-defense because when discussing a combat knife the leader possessed, the leader mentioned how “it’s really tiny, so you have to really stab them.” Video was then turned into the police and several arrests were made.

Furthermore, Antifa showed up and wreaked havoc on the University of California Berkeley campus earlier this year in response to the presentation of far-right provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos. Members set fires, smashed windows and pepper sprayed audience members, including moderates and liberals interested in Yiannopoulos’ speech. The group cost UC Berkeley $100,000 from damages.

These types of violent tactics conveying a political message are not new to America. In the post-Reconstruction era of America, KKK members would burn down houses, injure and even kill supporters of the Republican Party. They used fear tactics against southerners to influence them to vote Democrat.

Antifa’s tactics are just as similar. When conservative speaker Ben Shapiro spoke last month at the University of California, Berkeley, numerous people, including myself, reported feeling unsafe to go to the event due to Antifa’s violence despite the large sum of money Berkeley allocated to protecting free speech week. Their fear tactics are working, just as the KKK’s tactics allowed the south to consistently vote democrat post reconstruction.

One could easily compare the Kristallnacht, a night which Nazis destroyed businesses and homes owned by Jews, to Antifa riots, targeting businesses which are owned by conservatives and support capitalism.

On the alt-right, neo-Nazis, White Supremacist and KKK members are just as bad. Groups like these unfortunately still exist in American society today. They reject American values of equal opportunity endowed by our creator, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Alt-right organizations have been known to use tactics similar to Antifa: violence to convey their message. It just disgusts me to see those in the Charlottesville protest who criticize Antifa but continue to advocate for violence against minorities.

Watching numerous Antifa riots, I noticed the group kept screaming about punching Nazis. The Oxford Dictionary describes a Nazi as a member of the National German Socialist Party. Yet still, Antifa continuously targets Ben Shapiro, a strict Orthodox Jew and an advocator against large government, who I can assure you does not identify as a Nazi.

On inauguration day last year, about 500 to 600 antifa members were present to riot across Washington. They were shouting anti-capitalist chants and screaming about how capitalism hurts minorities. What I found most ironic was that they set a limo ablaze in a demonstration of wealth rejection. The burden of the $70,000 car repair bill was put on Muhammad Ashraf, a Muslim-American immigrant who owned a small chauffeur service.

This is yet another problem with the group. They choose targets completely counterintuitively, often jumping to conclusions of violence to demonstrate their ideology, ignoring someone’s identity.

This idea that Antifa has to fight fire with fire only serves to increase tensions on both sides of the ideological spectrum.

So the issue that I have with this group is their usage of violence to convey their message. Using fear tactics to influence voters is the exact same method with which Hitler, Mussolini, Vargas, and the KKK took power. The group jumps to conclusions and selects arbitrary targets to attack and riot against. If the group was really antifascist, they would use peaceful methods to stop the spread of ideological fascism.

Banned Book Week on Campus

The week of Sep. 24 is National Banned Book week according to the American Library Association. The objective of the week is to celebrate the reading of books which have been challenged both in the past, and in modern times. Most libraries celebrate this week by putting up large public displays. However, the HHS library celebrates differently.

“I found that when we do the traditional banned book week, it did not have the intended impact as if people would say ‘Oh I like that book but now I feel offended, or challenged by it,’” librarian Amity Bateman said.

Bateman has chosen not to celebrate the week as it might feel controversial to some students, she said. Instead, Bateman prefers to display lots of different viewpoints such as the LGBT community, Black Lives Matter and conservatism in the featured section of the library year round.

“We feature what could be considered controversial books throughout the year. In October for example, we like to feature books with LGBT characters that have been challenged,” Bateman said.

Across the Atlantic, however, Germany celebrates the week much differently. A large parthenon made of previously challenged in history is constructed atop the site where the Nazis burned thousands of books. At the end of the week, the structure is removed and the books are distributed to the neighborhood libraries and to the people.

Challenged books however, have been incorporated in our English curriculum. 10th grade world literature reading “The Kite Runner” was challenged by Buncombe County School District, Troy School District and Waukesha School District for its crude and obscene content.

Regardless of its content, the world literature team believes it’s an essential to the curriculum.

“The Kite Runner talks about a place in the world where it is in turmoil and very different from our place” world literature head Steve Lavelle said.

“Most books that are controversial are also great books such as ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘The Kite Runner.’ They bring up such important issues and lessons that are good learning points for us by reading them,” Lavelle said.

World literature teacher Megan Rupe also mentioned how the book exposed students to problems, issues and culture, many might not be familiar with, a goal of world literature.

“The reason people have this temptation to ban a book is because it’s offensive or uncomfortable but life is offensive and crude. So to gloss over those issues is doing our students a disservice,”Rupe said.

“Sure, when you’re in high school, a lot of people are sheltered from those things but it’s a reality that students should be aware of and need to learn how to deal with before they encounter those types of things in the real world,” Rupe said.

Leone’s Chronicle: The decay of the freedom of speech

What happened to the freedom to express ourselves? Freedom of expression is a natural right. Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” We as humans are born with the ability to express ourselves. This ability is not granted by the Bill of Rights, but protected by it.

Freedom of speech plays a fundamental role in American society. Our democracy relies on the ability for the minority group to advocate their viewpoints to the majority. Unfortunately, our democracy, has turned away from freedom of speech for what many believe is a new right: the right to feel comfortable.

College campuses are by far the worst offenders. They claim they have done an excellent job at ensuring diversity through race, gender and sexual orientation; however they fail to have diversity of thought.

As we have seen through the nearby Berkeley riots and protests on other college campuses, students and faculty members push for and demand the removal of those they consider “controversial” speakers, such as Ben Shapiro and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Note that these protesters have full right to express their demands. What I see here is the hypocrisy of protesters utilizing their freedom of speech to prevent other students from executing theirs.

The issue here is that the word “controversial” is unique to each individual. While a group of people might believe a speaker is provocative for example, another group may not

A study by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) claims about 54 percent of public universities have adopted speech codes, policies that prohibit forms of expression that would be protected by the First Amendment. Unfortunately, new Department of Education guidelines might have all universities adopt these speech codes.

Speech codes have a far greater impact than preventing freedom of expression. Under these strict codes, major voices of satire, commentary and public criticism would be silenced. Students would begin to feel they have a right to always feel comfortable and induce a feeling of self-censorship, preventing our society from changing.

How has freedom of speech allowed for our society to change? In the past, freedom of speech has directly led to the emancipation of millions of slaves through the abolitionist movement, the ability for women to vote through the female suffrage movement, and for civil rights to be installed in American values.

A nation which does not educate in freedom will crumble. We have seen this theory take effect with the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and other totalitarian dictatorships around the world. Our society thrives off of candor, as it always has. Once we as Americans have given up our freedom of speech for the feeling of comfort, then that is the time when we have lost our country.