Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guns on Campus Bill

Recently, an Idaho State Representative introduced a bill that would have made it illegal for public colleges and universities to prohibit firearms on their campuses except within undergraduate housing. HB 222 passed the House State Affairs Committee and the Idaho State House of Representatives. It was killed in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

I was against this bill the minute I heard about it. Of course, usually any legislation that rolls back gun regulation is on my black-list automatically, but this bill was especially offensive.

The fact that Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, introduced this bill would anger me enough; what is most unforgivable about this piece of would-be legislation is that he did not talk to any of the colleges or universities before he wrote it. 

I am a student at North Idaho College, and I feel safer there than I did at my high school in Sandpoint. Most likely this is because I trust the security force that NIC employs. They have Taser guns and not a day goes by that I don’t see one of them in even the farthest corners of the campus. If there is a situation they cannot handle, the Coeur d’Alene police are only minutes away, and some officers are on campus already.

I know that almost any of the instructors, administrators, or even my fellow students would help me if I needed it. We are a community, and I am never afraid to walk on campus, a woman alone, even at night.

NIC has not had a threatening incident with a gun in over three years, and the school came out against the bill, just like Boise State University, University of Idaho, College of Southern Idaho and Idaho State University. Law enforcement, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement, Western Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and the State Board of Education all stated their opposition as well.

If this bill had passed, I would have felt very exposed. I do not care for guns: they make me nervous, and there are few people I consider mature enough to handle a gun responsibly. To have guns allowed on my college campus would have made me fearful in an environment that I have come to feel extremely safe in.

I contributed to the conversation in the best way I could come up with. I wrote to my state senator, asking her to vote against the bill in the event that it reached the Senate, and I wrote to my state representative, thanking him for voting against the bill in the House, where it passed despite his vote.

This bill was full of holes, and one of the greatest problems with the bill was that it specifically allowed firearms at athletic events. Sports tend to bring out adrenaline and encourage tribal behaviors, both of which contribute to violence.

The other problem with the bill was that it did not permit public colleges or universities to regulate firearms in places like daycares. Had this bill passed, someone with a concealed weapon could go in to the Children’s Center at NIC, and no one could do anything about it.

I personally believe guns have no business in any learning environment, and to force them on educational institutions, ignoring their wishes, is simply irresponsible.

I am proud that the Senate State Affairs Committee voted against this ill-conceived bill. I know I breathed a sigh of relief, and the administrators I talked to felt the same way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church at NIC

I got out of my car this morning and heard faint shouting. I remember. WBC is supposed to be here today. I walked by where the CDA police had blocked off the street, and headed toward the Student Union Building. As I got closer, I saw colorful signs and heard a cacophony of noises. At first, I was angry.
I knew that members of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas had scheduled time to come up and protest the NIC production of "The Laramie Project" - a play that chronicles monologues from the people in Laramie, WY, after a young gay college student, Matthew Shepard, was brutally tortured and murdered there for his sexual orientation. I also knew that the WBC is infamous for protesting at military funerals - not against war or the waste of human life - but that they were glad these soldiers were dead because they died for what the WBC sees as a damned country for its extension of rights to LGBTs.
While I was cursing the people holding the signs in front of the SUB, which I have come to regard as a cozy, safe zone, I got closer, and realized that there was more to what I was seeing. The gathering I saw first was actually the counter-protest that NIC students and others had organized. By the time I got there, which was half an hour after the start, there were still about 50 or more people - unlike the 200+ there originally. The WBC people were of the other side of the street, coralled into a small portion of sidewalk. 
And then I was smiling.
The fight for rights and justice does for me what I imagine church/temple/mosque does for religious people. I have dreamed about protests since I was little, desperate to be a part of something larger than myself. 
The dozen or so WBC people could not be heard.
My people - my school - was singing, and cheering, and shouting. They were waving signs that said things like "I love my aunt" and "There's a reason Dorothy left Kansas," and waving American flags.
They sang "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and later, the National Anthem.
What must be understood about me is that I have not felt patriotic since I was eight, and Bush was "elected." After that November, I spent eight years hating my government. Even with Obama in office, I find that I cannot love my country as I should - I have missed a crucial stage in my intellectual development, and my patriotism died because of it. Being proud of my schools happens rarely, and I was too new to NIC to cultivate true loyalty.
But today, NIC won my love. I am a proud NIC student.
With so much love and acceptance pushing against the hate, the WBC signs ("God hates Fags" and other nonsense) looked almost laughable.
Love really does beat out hate. (And may it always do so)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I can name the day that I first knew that I wanted to vote. November 4, 2000. George W. Bush had just been "elected" (I use elected in quotation marks because there is strong evidence that the election was fraudulent), and I was angry. I knew that I wanted a voice in this system - I wanted to oppose idiots like Bush Jr.
The desire never faded. While other people were looking forward to age 21 and drinking, all I really cared about was being 18 so I could vote.
It shocks me how few people in America vote. About 30% of our population decides who gets into the offices that run our country.
A democracy in which only a select few vote is not a democracy - it might as well be an oligarchy.
If people don't vote, how can they expect any change? They can't complain about the direction their government goes in if they don't exercise the basic privilege of their citizenship.
Too many of the people I went to high school with, who are now of age, have no desire to vote. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who intend to vote.
Our country cannot function without an educated populace who completes the most basic duty of all democracies: voting. It only takes a few minutes - registering takes even less time.
And you should care - government affects everything in your life, and if you're not helping to choose what the government is doing, then you're allowing terrible mistakes to be made.
Start caring; start voting!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Planned Burning of Korans

It is with great anger and disappointment that I write this. A pastor in Florida and his small congregation are planning to burn a great number of Korans.
Several American officials, including the Attorney General, Eric Holder, and General Petraeus have warned him that this is not only reckless, but dangerous. Rev. Terry Jones continues to say that while he has considered it and he and his congregation have prayed about it, they believe this to be the right course.
While I believe they have every right to do this - just as I have the right to go out and have a bible bonfire - I find this to be offensive, stupid, and wrong.
If he had said that this was their constitutional right, I would still be angry and upset, but I would have little to say on the matter, since it truly is their right - just as the people of New York City have the right to build a Muslim Outreach Center complete with mosque, three blocks or closer to Ground Zero.
We have a right, in this country, to do anything we like, say anything we like, as long as it does not create a "clear and present danger."
But what Jones quoted was not his country's promises, but those of his religious leader. And in that sense, he is quite wrong.
He told ABC News that he believes God wants him to do this. And I cannot think of anything less true.
The God that he follows was described by Jesus Christ, whose beliefs and ideals spoke of peace and kindness, not violence.
By citing Jesus and God as his reasoning, he has in fact, proven himself incorrect. Jesus would not condemn another religion - especially not a religion so similar to the one he founded.
Islam is not by nature a violent, evil, or wrong religion, any more than Christianity or Judaism is. It is extremists that make headlines, and extremists who misread their religion and use it to cause harm. Do we burn Torahs and Bibles to protest Israel's continuation of its violence with Pakistan, or to protest the use of the Bible to justify killing doctors? No.
And while Jones is within his rights to burn these books, I sincerely hope that he realizes how insulting, unnecessary, and violent the act he is planning is.
The thought of burning a book - any book - is repulsive to me. And I wonder what Jones would say if I burned an American flag in front of him. Is that not also my right? And while I would cause fury among those I disagree with - Tea Partiers, for instance - I would also anger people who have nothing to do with what I would protest - like veterans. The burning of the Koran is the exact same case. And in this particular instance, it will only serve to increase the motives and self-righteousness of Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists. Muslims do not deserve this slight, and it will prove no points - only harden the belief that America is anti-Islam.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I was reading about Ruth Ginsberg's speech - the one her husband wrote and that she delivered in his place - on Slate, and they brought up Sarah Palin.
Now, I cannot stand that woman (Palin, not Ginsberg - I love Ginsberg).
She labels herself a feminist, and I cannot think of anyone who is LESS of one.
She is against abortion - THE women's right - and LGBT rights. She continually voted against healthcare measures in Alaska that would have helped thousands of lower-income children get coverage.
The brand of feminism that Palin promotes in not feminism - she only takes one facet of it (motherhood) and even then she takes away the choices inherent in it.
Real feminism is the fight for the rights of all, no matter their gender.
Despite many people's beliefs to the contrary, the feminist movement is not over - women make about 80 cents for a man's dollar, LGBTs have almost no rights in the legal or social system, and pro-lifers continually wreak havoc and violence on those who make the difficult choice to have an abortion - and with people like Palin gaining popularity through false labels and skewed values, it does not look to be over any time soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Something New

I find myself in between stages of my life. I have graduated from high school, and am impatiently waiting for the college year to start.
So what to do with myself? I could sit around reading like I always do, or I could try something new. Having never blogged before, I find myself drawn to the idea. 
I had a column in my high school's newspaper, but subject matter was restricted to what is considered school-appropriate, which can be suffocatingly strict.
What will follow in this blog will likely be mostly political in nature, as that is what largely occupies my interest. I am open to hearing what you think about my ideas - I am open to a discussion.
While I experiment with this, I anticipate that I will make mistakes, that I will say something in more antagonistic a way than I intend, and that someone will be kind enough to correct me. I am a passionate individual, and sometimes I come off too strongly, and must rein myself in so as not to insult everyone around me. 
With that in mind, please do not become personally insulted by something I say - call me on being too narrow in my argument.