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Cody Gorman

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Free speech applies to everyone

Our First Amendment grants us four unalienable rights as Americans — the freedom of press, the freedom to public assembly, the freedom of religion and, of course, the freedom of speech. Our freedoms allow us a certain level of comfort and ease when communicating our thoughts and beliefs. There are certainly some limitations on free speech. The United States has laws against slander and libel, wherein the speaking party may be arrested or punished if the statement is made with malicious intent, deliberately false information or the intent to defame the person. One needs only to look at Supreme Court cases like New York Times Co. v. Sullivan to see how free speech can be scathing without defaming or malicious. Gitlow v. New York is another case that shows how free speech can be limited if it is dangerous to the state, or seditious in matter.


Burqa, niqab ban makes sense

Recently France put into effect a law that bans the public wearing of the niqab and burqa, two facial coverings used by conservative Muslim women, and began arresting and prosecuting women who wear the veils. To briefly paraphrase the law, women are being arrested because the facial coverings are a new form of religious enslavement that oppresses the civil rights deserved by and granted to French citizens by their government. The debate is centered on one question: Does a government that fights for and protects the freedoms of its citizens maintain the right to apply law to personal dress choices in an effort to legalize what their constitution would deem is "right" for them?


RUPA acted democratically

The Oxford dictionary defines democracy as "a system of government by the whole population or all eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives." The basis for democracy lies in participation of the general public, and the opinion held by the most voters will eventually be implemented. It is possible for this system to fail the intelligentsia of a population or the needs of a country. One need only look at the election of Hamas in Palestine, which drew criticism from Israel and the United States, or the 2000 and 2004 elections of George W. Bush as president of the United States, which drew criticisms internationally and among the liberals in the country. The resounding result of subjectively unfortunate elections is "tough cookies." At the end of the election, the result was final and left those who did not participate scratching their heads.


GOP backs poor candidates

With the recent presidential announcements of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, it's quite possible that the Republican Party is quickly approaching the threshold for ridiculous. While it is true that these three have only "unofficially declared" their intentions to run, it seems they have all intention of putting together serious campaigns. Some more "serious" candidates in contention — Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, and Fred Karger, a gay activist from California — have already announced they will run for the candidacy in the primaries. By all means, Pawlenty is a serious-seeming candidate with a shot of winning the candidacy. Karger is a qualified political consultant and would also, if he were to win the candidacy, be the first openly gay presidential candidate. Ironically he would be running on the ticket for the political party that has worked almost tirelessly to suppress other gays' rights to marriage in recent memory. That's a topic for a different day, though.


Arab world desires freedom

The United States has been engaged in a multi-front war in Afghanistan and Iraq since Sept. 11, 2001, mainly to hunt down Osama bin Laden and exact retaliation for the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people in the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the downed plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Then-president George W. Bush further explained the affront by affirming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that our military presence would ensure a rapid influx of democracy. Actual background research into Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi — fittingly codenamed "Curveball" — brought to light that the intelligence he presented to Bush's cabinet concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was entirely fabricated, and that al-Janabi himself was nothing more than a con artist and habitual liar. But at least we were spreading freedom, right?


Understand before accusing

BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice held an event a week ago entitled "Never Again for Anyone," which planned to shed light on the injustices faced by Palestinians in the frame of horrible injustices done to Jews in the Holocaust. The panel included two Holocaust survivors who intended to share the message that the atrocities committed in the Holocaust should not be forgotten or isolated from history, but rather remembered and kept in mind so that such events never happen again to anyone — hence the title. As is almost necessary in today's Israel-Palestine conversation, mistakes were made and problems were blown out of proportion until the situation reached and passed a threshold and entered the realm of prejudice. While the event organizer's choice to impose a $5 fee — which was outside of BAKA's control — the resulting hoopla brought more negative attention and contempt for opposing sides than the event alone would have originally created. The ensuing xenophobia and racial or religious slurs thrown at University students from protestors — who were mostly non-students — created an enormous debacle.


Religious rhetoric divides all

Religion is and has been a polarizing force in American and international politics. It has served as a source of inspiration, a moral compass and a guide of living for millions. It has also served as a means of destruction, death, slaughter and discrimination. Some of you may remember that last semester I penned an article regarding the mistaken aspirations of atheists like myself. The following may seem hypocritical, but after a few events over break and reading the Jan. 20 column in "The Daily Targum" titled "Anti-Semitism Exists Today," I feel it needs to be said. Christopher Hitchens was right when he posited that religion poisons everything.


Embrace Julian Assange as hero

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested yesterday morning. He has been refused bail for fear of fleeing the country and that his life will be taken by a political radical. The recent leaks, which have shown the United States to be less-than-reputable in some takes of international politics, have sparked debate, focusing mostly on whether the truth about politics is worth running the risk of American diplomats losing credibility in the realm of international relations. The answer is unequivocally yes.


Atheism does not define amorality

Religion, particularly the Christian religion, has been a long-standing American tradition. Christianity — along with apple pie, democracy, being white, baseball, and freedom — have for a long time been the faces of America as depicted in the minds of most politicians and demagogues. In recent decades, Judaism, and in some cases, Islam, have garnered the same respect among fellow believers in an Abrahamic God. Hatred and bigotry still do exist towards these groups, but in most cases, a belief in God seems sufficient enough to cement a person's values and moral foundation. Yes, atheists are godless, but immoral? That seems a bit much, especially in a land that was founded and settled in on the basis of religious freedom — which of course would rationally include the freedom to not believe.


Middle Eastern peace relies on moderate views

The letter titled "Ideology poses as scholarship at Brandeis U.," in Monday's The Daily Targum is another poorly constructed and illogical smear campaign on support of Palestinians in colleges across the nation. However, the author's attack on "social justice" campaigns throughout America comes off as decidedly racist in origin. The letter highlighted Brandeis University's week to recognize Israeli's occupation of Palestine, and he argues the recent willingness of today's youth to partake in "social justice" is either open or thinly veiled anti-Semitism. This position is further highlighted by the title of the Boston University professor's recent book "Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad against Israel & Jews."


We cannot repeat voting errors

I am, among many things, a fairly liberal Democrat. I feel that anyone who has read one of my past columns would clearly be able to connect the dots and reach that conclusion. I have a certain view of the world, of America and of the state. If presented with new information, I have no problem with altering my view to align itself best with the facts at hand. There are many like me in this country, especially at a fairly liberal state school like the University. However, there is one thing that sets me apart from people who feel as strongly as I do in the realm of politics.


Re-evaluate war on drugs

The war on drugs in the United States will celebrate its 39th birthday as a part of official political vernacular in less than a month. The ongoing prohibition of psychedelic drugs is now more than a century old. The phrase has been used by politicians left and right who want to seem tough on crime without much thought to its roots and the means of "winning" this war. In the 39 years that the war has been official, arrest rates have soared, prisons have become overcrowded and tougher laws have been passed to ban drug trafficking and punish users. So the U.S. government is clearly winning the war on drugs, right?


Tea party hides behind patriotism

The resurgence of political conservatism is no surprise in America. Since the dawn of the two-party system in America, the prominence of political parties have ebbed and flowed as national demands have. Shifts of power in Congress and the White House happen regularly, normally in shifts of two to three congressional terms or up to two presidential terms. It is then expected for a republican/conservative influx in the next few years to take place.


Learn true meanings of words

Words have power. Anyone who has been the victim of grade school or high school bullying can attest to that, cruel words of others can have a harsh, lasting psychological effect. By the time these children become young adults and enter the world of higher education — college, that is — most have grown beyond the point in their lives where petty bullying and physical harassment are unnecessary for social well-being. Despite the equality that should pervade every college campus, if not every American town, tacit discrimination is becoming more and more prominent. Most of the offenders have no idea that what they're saying is offensive, and the ones who do have some ill-formed logic to try to make them seem innocuous. But, derogatory terms describing gay people are finding themselves increasingly commonplace in our vernacular, which is shocking not only due to this generation's lack of creative vocabulary, but at the underlying implications about gays that the words carry while flung about with ease.


Respect religious freedom

Remember the "Little Albert" experiment notorious in psychology textbooks? It started in 1920 when John B. Watson, a researcher at Johns Hopkins began a conditioning experiment on an 11-month old baby — he would introduce the child to white, fluffy objects and eventually play a loud, frightening sound while each object (namely, a white rat) was introduced. The child began to associate the fear of the loud noise with the white rat and then, by extension, projected that fear onto all things white or fluffy: rabbits, cotton balls, even a man in a Santa Claus costume. After the conditioning was finished, "Little Albert" was taken out of the hospital experiments, and no de-conditioning took place. Due to the anonymity of the study, it is unknown when or if the child overcame the fear.

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