Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Extremism

I believe that one of the reasons I'm respected around here is because I desire to be moderate. I don't often play the political accusation games that I see many members caught up in. I don't post from left- or right-affiliated sites if I can help it, and I actively search for the common sense view, rather than the accusatory one.
If what I just said seems arrogant to anyone who is reading this, consider the opinions I hold of the people who often comment on my column, or the other discussions that I moderate. I see what could be a promising seed or discussion about something that is barely political, if political at all, and yet someone enters the conversation and begins accusing the other side of the political aisle's views or actions, no matter what the issue at hand is. Quite often, those accusations have nothing to do with the discussion. All it takes is one person to say "Because of Obama..." or "Because of those lying republicans..."
I also see members taking rather extreme political views that turn into nothing more than catfight after catfight in discussions when two people begin to go at it. Newsvine members are often faced with the same choice as Washington: compromise your views to reach an agreement with each other, or argue on and on, regressing further and further into childish tones and ways, until one or more users violate the Code of Honor and get themselves banned for a period of time.
We all know about the continuing polarization of Newsvine and beyond. For this site in particular, most of the complaints come from users such as myself who have been here for several years and have watched this beautiful community grow more extreme, more polarized in its nature. And yet, I watch the very same members who complain contribute to this wickedness. You yell, you name-call, you argue on and on, and all over what- differences in beliefs? I am the one who should be acting childish, and I am the one who shakes his head and begins hitting the delete button, day after day.
We as a collective body must learn how to ground ourselves again, shift to the center, compromise more, mellow out. We must all remember what the word "moderate" means. I do not want to see people ditch those conservative or liberal views but, can we be honest here for a minute? I am growing tired of watching grown men and women act like children on my column. Extremism in itself accomplishes nothing. We all know this about Washington, how congress only gets things done through compromise. Why are we failing to translate this to our seeds?
We can expand this into the world beyond this website. Extremism, whether political, cultural or religious, has grown routine as the last several years have passed by. The ever-rising antisemitic behavior in Eastern Europe. The global terror threat from the middle east. The continuing existence of the American Nazi party, the KKK, the Westboro Baptist Church. Polarization is a real thing, and we now live in a world with far fewer moderates than before. Or really, the same number of moderates, but an increasingly silent body of moderates. We are letting our more vocal cousins on the fringe take control of the views our population collectively shares, allowing them to influence the way we perceive ourselves. 
The central reason for all of humanity's problems is the belief that one human life is more valuable than another. This is a problem we all face. We can connect this immediately to religious divisions, to sex divisions, to age divisions. But we can also connect this to political divisions. When I watch two members argue, it almost seems to me that they are really saying, "Well I am a liberal, my views are correct and therefore I am better than you" (and the opposite). Even though the user's fingers, or the person's mouth, never types the words or speaks the sentence, in a way this is happening. While a moderate may disagree with an opinion, they leave out the arrogance, the denial, and the aggression. They may even compromise, or change their own view from listening to another's. The beauty of moderation is to see different things in different ways.
So if this is the central reason, why aren't Churches teaching this? Why aren't politicians preaching this? Why isn't the world coming to its senses and realizing this? We have, slowly, but extremism yet again stands in the way. I see real-life extremism in the same manner that I watch the two users fight- growing more and more childish and ignoring the larger issue at hand to publicly harass one another. The Church is focused too heavily on social issues these days. The politicians are focused too heavily on poll numbers these days. Both ignore the larger issues at hand- God and Government, respectively- and continue down their self-centered paths of gain.
The Boston Marathon bombs yesterday were extremism at its core. Whoever is responsible for the destruction was so focused on whatever awful, petty goal they had set that they failed to recognize the gift and value of life, and failed to recognize the bigger issue: themselves. His or her extremist views caused this disaster, caused the lives and limbs to be lost, and all for nothing more than what I assume to be glory and fascination with destruction. He or she assumed that the lives were meant to be played with, like toys, and that their loss did not matter. This had the same outcome as the Holocaust, the Crusades, and 9/11: human lives were lost because of a set of beliefs.
I call upon all of you to act like adults and become more moderate around Newsvine. I don't mind if you disagree with one another, but please respect one another. Stop the name-calling, the personal attacks, and the catfights. Remove yourself from the petty politics. And spread the message of moderation and compromise to the world beyond. Extremism is capable of consuming us, but only if we let it. Pause once in a while, consider your actions and thoughts, and let this website become a little more positive in the days ahead.
My thoughts to my hometown of Boston and all who were involved.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Poll: Should the "morning after" pill be available over-the-counter to teenagers?

Recently news broke that a judge overturned a restriction that limited teen's access to the morning after pill by requiring a prescription for the drug. The order now makes the pill more widely available to people, including teenagers.
The judge's decision was met with both support and criticism. Many older, more conservative people oppose the ruling, saying that the best way to avoid becoming pregnant is through abstinence, however more sensible younger people support the ruling because, well, just because you tell a teen to not have sex doesn't mean that they are going to avoid it. In fact, a 2010 study reported that nearly 42% of teenage girls have had sex at least once. The number was about the same- 43%- for boys. (Citation)
Then comes the politician's views: President Obama recently announced support for legislation that requires girls younger than 17 to see a doctor before buying the pill.
So, my question to you today is: Do you support the judge's ruling to allow the "morning after" pill to be available as an over-the-counter contraceptive, even to teenagers? Why or why not?
Leave a comment below. And no matter what your stance is, you can take comfort that over 90% of teenagers use some sort of contraceptive- numbers that are higher than ever.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Introducing myself

To those of you who don't know who I am:

My name is Leafydebater and I write for newsvine.com. I made this blog for two reasons: 1. to store my written articles (most of them are satire) because I have far too many other things going on and it's nice to build up a portfolio for after college, and 2. to work around the barrier between newsvine's subdomain system and Adsense's sign-up requirements... but that's a secondary concern since it's only $20 per month (it's good gas money though).

Don't take any post with a grain of salt unless it's clear that the post is strictly informational from the beginning- if it looks questionable, it's satire.

Find all of these and more at the #3 Newsvine.com column: leafydebater.newsvine.com!!!

Lindsay Lohan Changes Her Legal Address to "Jail"

LOS ANGELES: Insiders have reported that earlier today, a district judge ordered Lindsay Lohan to change her legal mailing address to the jail she has been locked up on and off in, pending her being sent back there for another stay.
Immediately after ordering Lohan to appear in court for a probation violation from her accident- and alleged perjury- last year, the judge requested that, "Because Ms. Lohan will have spent more than six months of the calendar year in jail, she change her address to the penitentiary."
Lohan is expected to serve a few more months if she is charged with lying to the officers on duty who responded to the scene where she crashed her Porsche. 
The crash was another setback for the former star, whose last stay was for theft a few years ago, and whose movie, "Liz and Dick", was a critical catastrophe and slumped at the box office.

Michelle Obama gets into Argument at Whole Foods

WASHINGTON: Several witnesses have reported that Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, got into a heated verbal argument with another customer at Whole Foods earlier today.
While many think it would be impossible for the First Lady to go anywhere "normal" during her daily routine, one of her aides explained, it isn't unusual for her to go on brief outings, provided she has a nearby security detail.
"Ms. Obama enjoys shopping for the family one or two times a week, as well as taking short walks to the park by herself or with a few agents. With a simple disguise, she is unrecognizable until you stand right in front of her."
While her outings are usually low-key and kept relatively secret, today's took an entirely different route when she was angered by another woman, shopping with her son.
The First Lady noticed the woman buying some regular potato chips for her child, and approached the woman, suggesting to her that she should spend her money on healthy fruits and vegetables for her family, instead of, "Chemical-filled junk."
When the woman refused, Ms. Obama then tried to convince her to buy the low-sodium or low-fat varieties, and when the woman resisted, she began shouting at her, saying that the woman's choices were going to have consequences on her son's health later in life, and that she should be more focused on being a role model, rather than giving in to her son's demands.
"The son looked completely healthy." one witness said.
After the woman began to shout at Mrs. Obama, security intervened, and escorted the First Lady out of the store.
Joyce Welchinton, a regular customer at Whole Foods, observed that there was a good amount of fruits and vegetables in the cart. She added, "I support the hard work and energy that Mrs. Obama has put into the last four years of promoting kids' health, but I don't see the damage that one bag of chips will do. A little junk every once in a while won't hurt."

It's official: Palin files for 2016 Presidential Campaign

SOMEWHERE IN THE WILDERNESS: Despite Obama still having another 4 years in the White House, the 2016 campaign field has just gotten a bit clearer, thanks to Sarah Palin, who earlier today filed with the tax office in Anchorage to begin a run for President of the United States in 2016 on her second try.
According to sources, Palin had been spotted outside the US embassy in Ottawa, Canada a few hours before, trying to file for a presidential campaign there. She had also been taking a look at properties on the market for her campaign headquarters until she was informed of the mix-up by an official at the embassy.
When we caught up with her in Anchorage, she wasted no time in outlining her platform.
"I want to make sure America returns to traditional, god-given values by making gay marriage and abortions illegal through amendments to our Declaration of Constitution. I want to pressure Russia and Iraq into halting their nuclear weapons program. I also want to fix our economy. I want to open Alaska to further oil drilling. And, I want to tell all those countries to make peace with Israel.
We asked her to name the first country she'd go after first in negotiating with Israel. Palin replied:
"I think there are lots of countries we should go after. Stop asking me those gotcha questions!"
Expect to see a lot more Sarah Palin in the next four years, especially when the primaries really begin to heat up. In other 2016 news, Nate Silver has predicted that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate and retain a 1-seat majority in the house, and Tim Kaine will win the Presidency by a wide margin of votes.

Onion Employee Screws Up, Publishes Real News

CHICAGO: The Onion, a satirical news corporation founded in 1988, published an apology letter from the editor after reports surfaced that an employee had mistakenly written a real news report and had it featured on the website.
The employee, Wu Psee, a Chinese immigrant, had been hired a few days before. This article was supposed to be his first big post-training assignment. The former People's Daily columnist had spent hours writing and editing a report on the increasingly powerful Chinese military and its impact on the Asia-Pacific region. To celebrate the milestone, his superiors gave it a featured position on the site without checking its content beforehand. The error was caught 23 minutes later, after it had been viewed by thousands.
"We sincerely apologize for our oversight earlier today", the letter stated, "The Onion and its affiliates aims to differentiate itself from the large media networks and provide only humorous, satirical reports."
The letter was later lambasted for being too serious in tone.
Readers who fell for the real headline were shocked and dismayed by the blunder. "I can't believe The Onion would do something like this. I go to the site every day and read a few articles to begin my day on a good note, but this morning I was confronted with... that." said a disgusted Thomas Thatcher of Deerfield, NH.
Mike Bennington, a graduate student at Boston University, was less harsh: "A mistake is a mistake, but that was a big one."
Mr. Psee will not face any consequences due to his inexperience.
Still, many, like Bennington, wonder, "How did he not know he was writing for a site likeThe Onion?"