Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. I am sensitive to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps it’s the four LONG years I spent in a rigourous collegiate journalism program. Perhaps it’s my hyper-sensitivity to the need to say what I want, when I need to say it. Regardless of the reason, I believe everyone has a right to freedom of speech, regardless of whether I agree with or am offended by what they have to say.* Imagine my chagrin when I heard an uproar about an art installation at a high school in my county. According to a news report (I’d love for more to exist, but it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by all of the local news outlets), students in an honors course “were given an assignment to create a display that shows what social justice means to them.” The result was on display in the high school’s lobby for weeks before it started getting widespread attention. […]
Bobby Shmurda, 20, took the internet by storm in early 2014 when a Vine of his song “Shmoney Dance” went viral. After a bidding war between labels, he signed a multi-album deal to Epic Records, and became hip-hop’s new flavor of the week. He followed it up with “Hot Nigga” and seemed poised for continued success (whatever that looks like in today’s music business landscape). Yet somehow, with lyrics that highlight drug sales, trap houses, and violent exchanges (or him and his crew just shooting people, as it were), there was some incredulity when Shmurda was arrested in December 2014 on a series of charges that include drug dealing, weapons possession, conspiracy to commit murder, and assault. Shmurda pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $2 million. Yet two months later, he is still in custody, and apparently upset that his label hasn’t been more supportive, specifically by posting his bail and voicing its support. My gut reaction to Shmurda’s sense of entitlement from his label was disgust. How dare this employee expect his employer to bail him out of a situation he got himself into by allegedly committing crimes? If I go out and catch charges, I’d sooner expect to be fired than for my employer to post my […]
This morning, Twitter is all a’flutter about a photo that was apparently posted to a teacher’s Facebook: The immediate question arose about whether the teacher overstepped her boundaries in doing the student’s hair. Was it the teacher’s place to judge the condition of the girl’s hair? Was it OK for her to style the hair? Was it acceptable that she posted it on social media? My first reaction is that I need the whole story, but I don’t have it at all. Too often, social media captures a portion of a situation and runs wild with assumptions. It happens all the time from celebrity deaths to everything else. People need to learn not to make snap judgments when they don’t have all of the facts in front of them. There’s no way to form an educated opinion if you don’t have a full picture (no pun intended) of what’s happening. My initial questions are myriad: Does the girl normally come to school looking unkempt/neglected overall? Was this a one-time event? Is the girl’s hair really all that unkempt or is it just that it was “out” instead of neatly braided/twisted? Is her overall appearance unkempt or was it just her hairstyle? Were the […]
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there’s some pretty significant legislation being considered in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that has the potential to severely impact internet freedom. The goals of the bills are to protect intellectual property, prevent copyright infringement, and add enforcement measures against rogue websites. The legislation, however, is getting a lot of opposition from prominent web-based services, including Google, Facebook, eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo!, Zynga, LinkedIn, and Twitter, who are concerned about how the government and corporations may be able to limit consumer access to the sites they want (and pay) to use. I know you may not be politically active, but I think this is a really important cause to know about. Even if you don’t agree with my stance, I hope you’ll take some time to read about them and consider how much they may impact the work you do, your personal interests, and the future of internet access. If you feel strongly, please reach out to your representatives to let them know how you feel – it’s quick and easy to email them, and they DO read them. (If you don’t know who your U.S. representatives are, you can find […]
Today Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment. While the official cause of death has not been determined, I think most of the world is assuming her death is the result of a drug overdose. If that’s the case, I won’t be shocked, based on the much-publicized (perhaps overly so) battle she waged with addiction to drugs and alcohol. What has shocked me is the sheer amount of comments I’m hearing about how disappointed people are in her ongoing struggle with addiction and her inability to overcome it. It seems so ignorant, insensitive, and removed. I wonder how many of these people have ever dealt with addiction up close and personal — in their own lives or of those they love — and not just through the media. I would venture to think that their outlook on the effects of addiction on the addict and the havoc it wreaks would be much different, perhaps less concerned with pointing fingers and more understanding of the rehabilitation process. After all, life is much different when you’re a participant instead of a spectator.