Censor Me

Censor Me

Nobody can be expected to change the world when they got half of an education - especially when it wasn't even the challenging, thought-provoking half.
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John Locke, a famous Enlightenment philosopher whose writings influenced the Declaration of Independence, once said, "The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it". And especially, in a world that has become seemingly more hostile and convoluted, today's education of our world - holistically - should be top priority.

Now, more than ever, we should focus on preparing our kids to deal with an unknown, dangerous world that is ever changing. Now, more than ever, we should talk about the uncomfortable subjects and analyze the history that we as humans have lived and created so that the future are prepared if and when it repeats.

Are we doing that?

Well... no.

Within the school systems are required reading books per grade level, each level being organized by a central theme that dictates the list of books that are read. One of the most anticipated books, and, in my opinion, one of the best that is read in school, is a book called Columbine by Dave Cullen. The book - predictably - analyzes the school bombing/shooting, but it also goes more in depth about everything - who the shooters were, what they had intended to happen, who the victims were, the aftermath, etc. It is extremely well written, and it focuses on a theme that, unfortunately, seems only to be growing in prevalence.

And parents have decided that this is too sensitive of a subject to be read, complaining that it is "disturbing" and "inappropriate", and it is now being moved to an optional read.

Besides the obvious dig that presents itself - that, for a generation that looks down on the current high school kids for being "overly sensitive, close-minded snowflakes", this is a pretty close-minded sensitive statement to make - one has to just stop for a second. When did education become about learning what was comfortable? Why should we learn only about what we want to learn about?

Jewish people do not choose to skip the Holocaust lessons, although I'm sure that that is a disturbing topic to discuss in depth for many people. Nobody avoids discussing slavery, even though I'm sure it's lovely to hear about the oppression of your ancestors. Columbine was legitimate history. It happened. People died. Just like both of the aforementioned historical events. And it is equally important that everyone is aware that it happened, especially high school kids whose peers - and I'm knocking on wood as I say this - could possibly be considering something similar. (I really hope not, but there was a threat at my school about a year and a half ago)

I recognize that you have the ability to censor your own child's knowledge, and if you'd prefer they not get their mind disturbed with modern, relevant history, that's your prerogative. But when you start raising hell and waving fists, you affect everybody's education. Because of you, children who are growing up to change the world (yours included) are missing out on exposure to world events and new points of view that could potentially be relevant later in life. Wouldn't it be better for somebody to read a book that freaked them out a little bit but allowed them to see the signs of the planning of a school shooting now? That's what education is for, at least.

Perhaps you'd prefer your child not to know about these things, but I believe education should be free and open, and everybody who gave permission to be interviewed and included in that book - who was personally, irrevocably affected by the events and thoughts that were written down and shared with the world - believe in that same principle. They believe their stories could possibly change the future for the better. As Neal Donald Walsch once said, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone". Being afraid to hear about history is a limitation you are imposing on yourself, and, by virtue of your sensitivity, you are censoring everyone else's education.

Literature is meant to be an escape. Throughout history, people have used expressive writing to put their thoughts and feelings into a shareable media that is relateable and understandable. It IS the softer way to hear history. And other people would like the benefits of the education that comes from a class reading of a novel - discussions, classwork, etc. - that you do not have the right to take from them. Talk to your children if something disturbs you; hiding from the world does not mean it doesn't exist.

There can be no democracy without freedom of speech, and there can be no freedom of speech when people get censored. Please, respect others' rights to education. Nobody can be expected to change the world when they got half of an education - especially when it wasn't even the challenging, thought-provoking half.

Cover Image Credit: List Challenges

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.

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It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

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