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How Not to Defend Voter Restriction Laws

I was listening to this NPR story today that presented two rebuttals to the claim that voter restriction laws make it difficult for historically disenfranchised people to vote. They both strike me as bad rebuttals, and I’d like to consider them in turn. (You can listen to the story above).

The first is that it claimed that activists against voter restriction may be hindering their own cause by helping people vote. Pam Fessler claimed that as activists succeed in getting people what they need to vote, they provide evidence that these laws are not that harmful – that they don’t stop qualified voters from voting. That’s such an odd position to take. In any case where someone succeeds in helping someone overcome an obstacle, it’s not evidence that there was no obstacle. Suppose we removed all accessibility ramps from all of the town courthouses. Suppose outraged activists stood by some of the courthouses and helped lift people in wheelchairs up the steps. It would be silly to say that these activists have provided evidence that removal of the ramps is not harmful. It’s still true that a vast majority of people without the assistance of someone would not access the courthouse, and that they would have to do more than your average person to access the courthouse. The same seems true of voter restriction laws; many people must jump through burdensome hoops

Second, it is argued that because black voters in Georgia out voted white voters (by percentage) in the last general election, the voter restriction laws do not harm black voters. This does nothing, what-so-ever, to show that voter ID laws haven’t made it more difficult for black voters. The relevant statistic would be whether the percentage of black voters has decreased in recent years, and there is actually some evidence to suggest that it has. Approximate 1,329,000 black people voted in the 2008 general election. Approximately 1,280,000 voted in the 2012 general election. That’s a decrease in black voters. If the population of black voters remained constant or increased (which is likely), it’s a decrease in the percentage of black people voting in the state of Georgia.

You can accept everything I’ve said here, and still be in favor of voter restriction laws. My point is simply that this is not the way to defend voter restriction laws.

Kids for Ca$h Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion

Come out to Prindle on Tuesday, November 4 at 7 PM for a screening of the film Kids for Ca$ha riveting, non-fiction thriller about a judicial scandal that shocked America when it catapulted to the headlines in January of 2009, and lead to the wrongful jailing of over 3,000 kids.  The issue of zero tolerance policies and incarceration of juveniles is of incredible interest to any individual who studies, works, or cares about children.

Announcing the Prindle Institute High School Essay Contest

Large group of protestors surrounded by police officers in riot gear. The police have their backs to the camera and seem to be pushing on the protestors. One of the protestors is yelling.

I am very happy to announce the beginning of the annual Prindle Institute High School Essay Contest. Each year, the Prindle Institute will award high school students for the best essays on a topic of ethical concern. This year, we will award five (5) high school students $300 each for the best essays on this year’s topic.

This year’s topic is Ebola. The question we would like high school students to consider is whether the United States should impose a travel ban to and/or from regions that have been inflicted with an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Complete details are available at the Prindle Institute High School Essay Contest Page. Students can submit their essays using the online submission form at the contest page.

We look forward to reading your submissions.

Politicizing a Tragedy, 30 Years after Bhopal

One would certainly hope that, as far as environmental regulation goes, we are better off than we were fifty years ago. We would hope that novels like Rachel Carson’s ground-shifting Silent Spring, a work chronicling the dangers of the U.S. chemical industry, have made enough of an effect to prevent the author’s dystopian predictions from becoming a reality.

Continue reading “Politicizing a Tragedy, 30 Years after Bhopal”

The Ethics of an Epidemic

As the outbreak of Ebola enters its seventh month, the ethical dilemmas facing the world continue to increase. While the issue of experimental treatments remains unresolved (see my previous post on the topic), new problems have entered onto the stage. Treatment of Ebola in America, the media’s response, and the treatment of health care workers who have dealt with Ebola are just a few of the new questions being posed to society.

Continue reading “The Ethics of an Epidemic”

What Halloween costume choice says about our ethics

From trick-or-treating to carving silly faces into pumpkins, Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a child. But my joy in dressing up as my favorite super hero and going to haunted houses inevitably diminished once I started college. Halloween’s driving force suddenly transitioned from getting the most candy to getting the most intoxicated, and from dressing up like a Power Ranger to dressing up as an Arab terrorist. It seems that while dressing up for Halloween we are dressing down our ethics.

Continue reading “What Halloween costume choice says about our ethics”

Stigmatizing Food Choice to People Without Choices

These days, it seems that everyone is trying to “eat clean.” As I browsed the news this week, I clicked over to the “Healthy Living” page of the Huffington Post and found a myriad of “Eat Clean: Fall Edition” articles like this one about 6 high-fat foods you should be eating, and this one about how to cook with pumpkin that doesn’t come from a can. As Michael Pollan, American food ethics guru, famously said, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” Sounds simple, right? Just follow the advice given in the articles above, and you’ll be eating properly!

Continue reading “Stigmatizing Food Choice to People Without Choices”

The Mortal Code Paradox

Should one be allowed to choose his or her death date? Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel’s recent post in The Atlantic explains why he hopes to die at what many would consider the young age of 75: an age he has chosen to refuse medical treatments meant for prolonging life unnaturally. Openly opposed to legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted dying, Emanuel presents the unique question of whether we should be able to choose when we die.

Continue reading “The Mortal Code Paradox”

The Peace of Wild Things – Poetry Reading

Polaroid picture of a young woman with yellow hair and sunglasses

Joe Heithaus, professor of English at DePauw University, read several poems at The Campus Farm Dinner in October. Here he is reading a famous poem called  “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry.

Poetry (and the arts generally) is a great way to raise awareness or just inspire contemplation on critical issues of our time. This poem is no exception.

Envisioning Zero Waste at DePauw: Where do flip phones go to die?

Guest post by Anthony Baratta, Sustainability Director at DePauw University.  Check out the Office of Sustainability on Facebook and Twitter.Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.53.07 AM

Soulja Boy CDs, broken office chairs, flip phones, jean shorts, used plastic forks, Capital One junk mail, and homemade Christmas gifts from ex-girlfriends. What do these items have in common? No one wants them.

Technological advances, fashion trends, and the allure of the “new”  banish some of these items to discounted bundles on eBay and spots on nostalgic Buzzfeed lists. Unfortunately, though, most of them are simply thrown away, tossed in a black garbage bag when Dad decides that it’s time to clean out the basement, or a high school locker is cleared out, or a dorm room is packed up in May.

But where is “away?” What will happen to the items purchased by many of us on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Where will iPhone 6s, black leggings, and Hunger Games tote bags be five years from now? Where do toothpicks, Gatorade bottles, and receipts go now, and why should we care?

The answer to these question matters, and it’s why DePauw’s theme for 2014-15 is “Envisioning Zero Waste.” Most of these items end up in a landfill or incinerator, creating more greenhouse gas emissions and harming air and water quality. The production of these items is not benign, either, often involving unethical extraction of resources in other countries with assembly in unsafe factories. The scenario is much more complex than a glossy Best Buy advertisement.

What is zero waste? We define the term as an ideal, where everything that could be reused, repurposed, or recycled would be kept out of a landfill or incinerator. The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, Facilities Management, Environmental Fellows, and others are partnering with the Office of Sustainability to consider zero waste this year.

DePauw students are leading the way. Many of DePauw’s 20 Eco-Reps—students who gather weekly and work on small group sustainability projects—are taking on various initiatives related to zero waste. Mary Satterthwaite ’18 and Anna Muckerman ’15 are doing a recycling audit of campus, and Nick McCreary ’15 and Eric Steele ’15 have worked tirelessly with members of the Campus Sustainability Committee and Facilities Management to implement recycling at home football tailgates. The juniors in Environmental Fellows are considering a parternship with Bon Appetit and local farmers on compost efforts too.

We invite the DePauw community to participate in our “Envisioning Zero Waste” theme year.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle, at the office and at home. For a more complete set of goals and context to the theme year, please check out a recent DePauw web story on the project. And please consider coming to any of the What a Waste! Reclaiming the Value of People and Things events, led by Professor Jennifer Everett. On November 17th at 4pm, we will be screening Terra Blight in Watson Forum, a documentary about the harmful effects of “recycled” electronics sent abroad. You can watch the trailer below.

It’s issues like these that we should consider as we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, for Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. When you make your purchase, please consider: where will this item be in five years?

News media must fight back against negative image

Color photograph of a man in front of a bunch of trees

Originally appeared in The Indianapolis Star

The dim news for the journalism industry just keeps coming. A recent Gallup news poll shows public trust of the media is at historic lows. Only 40 percent of the public has a measure of trust in the media. This long-term trend indicates trust in the media has dropped 15 percentage points during the last 15 years.

Citizens say the media are biased. Most Gallup respondents think the media tilt liberal, but a growing number of others think the media tilt conservative. Either way, it’s hard for news consumers to trust an institution perceived as incapable of reporting news impartially.

The New York Times has announced another round of staff reductions. That’s bad for the Times, of course, but the rhetorical message sent to the nation about the struggles of the country’s primary agenda-setter is even worse.

CNN is whacking another 300 jobs, even though industry estimates indicate the formerly respected channel will make more than a half-billion dollars profit this year. CNN is only one division of mega-media giant Time Warner, which clearly looks at journalism as a profit center, not as serving the information needs of the nation. By contrast, CNN founder Ted Turner lost money with CNN for a decade before it turned a nickel of profit, but he kept it going anyway because of the service it provided.

Public bashing of the news industry is quite fashionable. Talk-radio hosts enjoy beating up the journalism industry. Even President Obama took a shot at the media last month for exaggerating foreign crises. “If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart,” he said. He also has accused the media of reporting “phony scandals” and watched as his Justice Department snooped into reporters’ emails and phone records.

Studies show the news agenda has softened over time, with less news about public affairs and high-impact stories that broadly affect people, and more news about celebrities and the bizarre. Such an agenda brings few real news consumers to the tent, but surely chases off genuine newshounds.

These developments individually might seem insignificant, but the cumulative effect explains why the public attitude toward the journalism industry is deteriorating. As Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly recently lamented, things have changed since the days of Walter Cronkite, Howard K. Smith and Chet Huntley, who, as O’Reilly said, “were almost revered by the population.”

The public’s lack of respect for the news media has broad consequences for America’s system of government. Citizens have to know what’s happening if they are to effectively elect and hold their government leaders accountable.

When citizens don’t trust the media, they obviously are less likely to consume news. That helps to explain Americans’ woeful performance on the recent News IQ quiz conducted by the Pew Research Center. The average person can answer only five of 12 questions regarding developments in the news. Even with a multiple-choice format, most Americans don’t know the unemployment rate or the name of Israel’s prime minister. Adults ages 18 to 29 — our nation’s future leaders — know the least about current events.

It’s high time the journalism industry rallies and fights back against the negative trends. It’s not an exaggeration to say the nation’s health hinges on a robust press and informed citizenry. Surely, an industry engaged in professional communication can create messaging that wins back public confidence and takes on government abuse of the press. New York Times reporter James Risen, himself a target of government pressure, recently said in a speech, “Journalists have no choice but to fight back because if they don’t, they will become irrelevant.”

Plenty of solid journalism is being done in America. Citizens must have enough sense to seek out those reliable sources and avoid the ones they don’t trust. News consumers should challenge themselves to seek news of substance and avoid wallowing in social media sites for pop culture updates. It would help if high schools and colleges taught news literacy and guided young people into a mindset in which they valued the currency of news and public affairs. Finally, news corporations must act as adults and recognize that journalism, while still a business, has a greater purpose than simply building a bottom line.

Is Your Degree Important?

What’s the point of a liberal arts degree? Is asking whether it’s useful even a valid question? Inside Higher Ed spotligthts St. John’s College as a model of a broad education, and how just because it may not provide specific technical knowledge, it can give a depth of meaning and understanding to technical subjects — and the ability to “jump in with both feet,” according to St. John’s senior Colin Willis. Continue reading “Is Your Degree Important?”

‘Slacktivism:’ The problem with benevolence

You may have heard the term ‘Slacktivism’ thrown around in reference to charitable acts diluted with apathy. ‘Slacktivism’ can take theform of anything from donating small amounts of money to a cause – to participating in ‘voluntourism’ trips and sharing photos of marginalized peoples on social media sites. Nonetheless, such efforts often end up serving one’s ego more than the cause itself and fail to attain the structural change necessary in confronting global inequalities. Continue reading “‘Slacktivism:’ The problem with benevolence”

The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation Event Recap

Is it ever alright to take elements of a culture that is not your own and apply it to yourself? Be that in music, fashion, food, or events – is it ever okay to take those elements and incorporate them into your life? Should you be allowed to wear clothing influenced by foreign customs, use other culture’s musical traditions, or cook food from a culture that is not your own? What is the difference between appreciating a culture and appropriating it? When is cultural appropriation permissible – or is it ever?

Continue reading “The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation Event Recap”

Misinformation in the Age of Ebola

As the Ebola outbreak has progressed, public discourse of the matter has reached a fever pitch. From announcements that airports will screen for the disease to coverage of the growing number of cases in Dallas, we are inundated with coverage of the outbreak. And as some call for the closure of borders and bans on flights from West Africa, it is clear that our perception of the issue is at its most fearful, and indeed its most vulnerable, since the epidemic began.

Continue reading “Misinformation in the Age of Ebola”

A Libertarian Argument for Public Education

A recent Gallup poll found that 70% of Americans favor using federal money to expand pre-school programs across the country. There were differences along party lines. Only 53% of Republicans favor the expansion, while 87% of Democrats favor the expansion.
To some extent, this disparity is unsurprising. Fans of small government typically concede that government should tax for the purposes of a minimal police state. We need the police to protect liberty at home. We need the courts to enforce contracts and protect people against fraud. We need the military to protect our liberty from aggressive foreign states. All of this is justified by the libertarian ideal that governments may tax in order to protect liberty and freedom. Taxation encroaches on liberty, but if the tax is to secure greater liberty and freedom, then it is okay for libertarians and conservatives.
Typically, this libertarian ideal is thought to exclude funding for other programs that aren’t for securing liberty such as welfare, health insurance, scientific research, public works, postal service, and public roads. If people really want those things, the free market will find a way to make it so. The libertarian ethos is also typically thought to exclude public funding for public education. It’s this latter thought, that I want to challenge here. I think libertarians, on libertarian grounds, ought to strongly favor public funding for high quality education for all.
A well-educated America would be populated with people who are not as susceptible to fraudulent assaults on their liberty. A well-educated America would be populated with people who could spot attempts to deprive other citizens of liberty. A well-educated America would be populated with people who would creatively address, perhaps even via the private sector, assaults on liberty.
Libertarians think we can permissibly invest in soldiers and police because they are an effective insurance against encroachments on liberty. Why not think of every citizen as a potential defender of liberty? Investing in quality education for every citizen is excellent insurance against fraud and violation of freedom and liberty, which is at the top of the libertarian/conservative list for things a government can tax to provide.
You might argue that our current system of education is broken. It’s a mess, you might say. Funding it is an inefficient means to ensure quality education for all students. However, that’s not an argument for not funding education. At best, it’s an argument for transforming our public education model. If we have planes that aren’t that good, we use them to defend our country while we build better planes. We don’t abolish the Air Force.
You might worry that as we transform citizens into defenders of liberty, we also educate better criminals and better con-artists. However, this is a risk that we take training soldiers and police, and they do sometimes use their skills to violate people’s liberty. But we don’t cut funding for the military and the police simply because we realize that in training potential heroes we also train potential menaces. The solution here is programming that is designed to mitigate the number of potential menaces and the degree to which they can inflict harm.
The bottom line is that education is not just about individuals securing better lives for themselves. If it were, then it would make sense (by libertarian principles) that people should pay for it if they want it. Education is a route to the kind of public good that is central to what a libertarian (typically) thinks we can tax for. It is an effective means to stabilizing our democracy and ensuring that we have vigilant footsoldiers everywhere who will defend precisely the thing that a libertarian thinks the government can pay to defend – our freedom. If you ascribe to libertarian ideals, you should support funding for education.

Conflict Kitchen will be hosted Oct. 27-30 by Prindle, Conflict Studies and the Art Department

The Conflict Studies Program, The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, and the Department of Art and Art History are thrilled to announce an upcoming visit by artists Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, and chef Robert Sayre, of Conflict Kitchen.

We will welcome them to campus the week immediately following fall break. Public events include:

Public Lecture by Dawn Weleski and John Rubin, founders of Conflict Kitchen
Monday, October 27 at 4:15 PM
Peeler Art Center, Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Meal at the Prindle Institute
Thursday, October 30 at 6 PM
Prindle Institute, Great Room
Open to the public. Tickets $15 ($9 for DePauw students)
Tickets go on sale Wednesday, October 15 and are available for purchase at the front desk of Peeler Art Center Monday thru Friday 10 AM-4 PM

Conflict Kitchen is an art project that takes shape as a restaurant in Pittsburgh that “only serves food from countries in which the United States is in conflict,” with the country of focus changing every few months. The restaurant is currently in its Palestinian phase, and past versions include Venezuela, Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, and Iran.

Using strategies of socially and publicly engaged art, Conflict Kitchen places an equal amount of emphasis on preparing authentic meals as they do on educating customers on the conflict of focus. Not only do they visit the countries to gain a greater understanding of the conflict and cuisine, but they also interview Pittsburgh residents from these nations to better understand different perspectives. The food at Conflict Kitchen is served in paper wrappers that function as informative handouts with direct quotes from these personal interviews as well as information about the cuisine, politics, and culture of the country.

Artists Dawn Weleski and John Rubin, the creative founders of Conflict Kitchen, will present a public lecture on Monday, October 27 at 4:15 PM in Peeler Auditorium. While on campus, they will also visit several classes, meet with students and faculty, and conduct art critiques with Studio Art majors.

On Thursday, October 30 at 6 PM, Dawn Weleski and Robert Sayre, the chef at Conflict Kitchen, will serve a Palestinian meal at Prindle and give a presentation about the politics of food in Palestine and the way it is used to establish cultural identity. A limited number of tickets to this event will be available on October 14 to DePauw students, faculty, staff, and Greencastle community members.

We hope you will consider attending the Conflict Kitchen lecture and meal to learn more about this unique restaurant, social practice art, and the conflict in Palestine.


Aspire to be Better

I have always been told that everything in life happens for a reason. When adversity strikes, something great is waiting around the corner and it’s up to you to battle through and seek it out. Cyclist Moise Brutus is a living example of a person who never gave up despite great misfortune. In 2010, Brutus was riding his motorcycle on a turnpike in Miami when he was struck by a vehicle, crushing his motorcycle and leaving him sprawled in a ditch. In an attempt to call for help, Brutus reached for his phone only to realize his left arm was gone and so were his two legs. Instead of panicking like a majority of people would have done, Brutus found the strength within to reach with his right arm, retrieve the phone, and dial 9-1-1.

Most people would not have been able to find the strength to battle and survive that terrible accident. I even grapple with what I would have been capable of doing in such a traumatic situation. However, Brutus did not give up that day, and he hasn’t since. After four years of intense therapy riding a stationary bike, Brutus realized that he could physically cycle and that he was actually good at cycling and enjoyed it. Now, four years later, Moise Brutus is a thriving college athlete at Marian University in Indiana. He is a member of the university’s nationally recognized cycling team. Not only is he a standout on a team of superior cyclists, but he is greatly respected for his overwhelming drive and perseverance.

Brutus’s story serves to remind us of true athletic virtue and excellence. Brutus worked for everything and never gave up despite being a triple amputee; a setback most people would never find the strength to overcome. The IndyStar reports that he is thankful every day that he is alive and never takes a day of training for granted. He has even given his teammates a new perspective on overcoming hardships and disadvantages.

Brutus’s story is inspiring and rare in contrast to the recent NFL scandals. These athletes seem to have a totally different perspective when it comes to hardships. Although they are talented and probably did work hard to reach the elite level of NFL play, they are blinded by privilege, rather than awakened by it. Their fame as athletes has given them an air of invincibility, and for some, this privilege has led them to falsely believe that they can get away with acts of violence. They have in many ways taken for granted their privilege and have failed to use their talents to inspire others through athletic excellence and virtue.

So the question becomes, what responsibilities should those with privilege have?

In the athletic world, very few are granted the opportunity to play at a professional level. Every roster spot is an honor and should be treated like one. As one person makes the team, another is cut. It is a privilege to be given the chance to play on a professional team. Therefore, professional athletes need to be leaders on and off the field. They represent more than just themselves in everything they do. Their actions reflect not only on their families, but their teammates, their league, their fans, and the states that they represent. If Brutus can accept being a triple amputee as a ‘privilege’ because it opened his eyes to what is really important in life, then we all can do more with what we have in life. He has raised the bar of what others with privilege are capable of doing, and what we ought to be doing.

Literary Hazing “Ain’t” Ethical

That’s right. This post has the word “ain’t” in its title. So what?

In a recent interview, Harvard University Professor of Psychology and celebrated writer, Stephen Pinker, explains the “curse of knowledge,” and his perspective that academia has placed too many old-ruled restrictions on how writers should or should not write. Explaining that the word “ain’t,” for example, is the product of an upper class tendency to use “isn’t,” instead, Pinker notes that this stigmatization became a rule, rather than being left up to one’s literary license.

Continue reading “Literary Hazing “Ain’t” Ethical”

History’s (Un)Truths

Fifty years, two months, and one week ago, a US destroyer was attacked (or was it?) by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam. This event marks the beginning of the Vietnam War era and the controversies that would come to surround the conflict. Things only continued to get murkier, as  New York Times reports. Not only do the controversies and tragedies of the past continue to haunt us, but so too does the way in which we struggle to portray them. Continue reading “History’s (Un)Truths”

No Jubilation in For-Profit Education

Does anyone remember Occupy Wall Street? Hello? Anyone?

Well just when you thought they had packed up and gone home, the movement is back and is taking on America’s embedded institutions in a totally different way.

The Washington Post recently reported on a story regarding one of the most widely discussed problems in American economics today: the exponential increase in student loan debt.

Collective student loan debts in the United States have now topped $1.2 trillion. Yes, you read that right, that’s trillion – with a t. This number seems astounding, unbelievable really, but the reality is that everyday the number of students taking out loans in order to pursue some sort of higher education is growing exponentially.

So what’s the problem with ambitious students looking to borrow a little cash in order to pursue a better life? In an ideal world there’s nothing wrong with this model; students take out a loan, receive a quality education, find a position of high employment, earn the money to pay back their loans and proceed to live happily ever after.

Sadly, this fairy tale cycle of higher education is far from the truth. Reckless lending practices, predatory interest rates, and a repressed job market are making eager-to-learn students victims of the big-money business of higher education. And there are no greater predators in the wilds of the educational jungle than for-profit universities.

For-profit universities are institutions that are grounded in making a profit from the deluge of students rushing to acquire a college degree in a world where a high school diploma can only take you so far. These organizations treat the college degree as a commodity, selling it to people that have limited educational opportunities or are not in a position to attend a conventional college.

So what is exactly wrong with these sorts of institutions?

For-profit colleges are extremely expensive and thus require students to take out huge amounts of both federal and private students loans. What’s worse is that many for-profit graduates are absolutely struggling to find employment in a competitive job market. This leads to a default rate that is nearly four times higher than the national average for conventional college grads.

The stagnation of the job market coupled with a lack of interest in many educational institutions to find graduates productive employment opportunities are churning out more and more students who are deeply indebted and have little to no employment opportunities.

Hold on, how does the Occupy Wall Street movement have anything to do with the questionable track record of for-profit educational institutions? Well, here comes an unlikely hero in this story of financial woes.

Rolling Jubilee is a project of the Strike Debt group, which arrived on the scene in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests. The project is designed to buy up the loans of highly indebted students at a bargain price, and then simply forgive these debts. It’s that simple, and so far the program has acquired and abolished $3,856,866 in debt, from 2,761 borrowers. These are real people, each with their own story, who have been relieved of an immense amount of personal debt.

Sound like a meaningful impact and a worthwhile cause? Well, to put it in perspective, this is only 0.00000321405% of the total amount of student loan debt owed by American college graduates. So, although this may be a noble endeavor, it is just the tip of the iceberg in tackling the problems associated with the modern education system. Rolling Jubilee has actually canceled the influx of donations to the funds stating that, “We want to roll into larger, more aggressive tactics…We want to make all public higher education completely free – that’s a practical, achievable goal.” However, this causes us to question even the motives of Rolling Jubilee. Is it a moral imperative to provide everyone with access to free higher education?

For many, college is a pathway to success and often university study paves the way for opportunities that would have been impossible without it. However, it is clear that there are flaws in higher education, imperfections that are scarring the face of a system that should be focused on the beauty of self-development and academic exploration.

What obligation do educational institutions have to ensure that their students will be able to pay off their debts? Has the moral high ground of education been eroded away by the nature of big-business universities?

Recognizing the magnitude of these problems, we are now forced to grapple with a variety of ethical dilemmas. Those of us lucky enough to have received a worthwhile education can begin putting this investment to use, finding solutions to these problems and making progress towards answering the moral conundrums that permeate our world.

American Horror Story: Freak Show

American Horror Story: Freak Show

Season 4 of the FX television series, “American Horror Story” just premiered this past Wednesday night with their newest season titled, “Freak Show”.  Although I am a huge fan of the AHS series, something about this particular season did not sit right with me. Don’t get me wrong, cinematically,  it looks like it will be an incredible season. However, ethically, how acceptable is it to have a show that features “freaks” in a way that is meant to be disturbing?

The word “freak” itself is derogatory and American Horror Story uses perverse humor and exaggeration to exploit those who were naturally born with physical, yet innocent, abnormalities. Continue reading “American Horror Story: Freak Show”