"Maybe people should take a look at themselves first."
These are the wise words of a high school student who answered the question, "Should pro athletes be considered role models?"
While people in the media continue to place blame on the NFL, advocating zero-tolerance policies of any possible alleged violent conduct (which is inherently flawed due to the nature of the sport), this student seems to understand the situation more than her counterparts.
Of course, she's right. Parents likely have the most influence in a child's life; as does the child's friends and teachers. And the parent of the child was likely influenced by his or her parents, friends, and teachers. It's a cycle that continues on and on (sometimes for the better and sometimes not).
However, while parents have a great deal of direct influence in a child's life, the greatest indirect influence is likely the government - the people in charge of domestic and foreign policy.
Politicians (and courts) contribute to inflation, the business cycle, unemployment, wars, etc. Police officers (and jails) contribute to racism, crime, degradation of families, etc. Teachers (and schools) influence behavior, bullying, cynicism, destruction of critical thinking, etc. Of course, these groups may not intend to cause damage, but it is often a negative consequence of our democratic, criminal, and educational systems.
So, where is/was the hatred of politicians who commit "bad" or "harmful" conduct? Most presidents, including Obama, Bush, Kennedy, consumed illegal drugs one time or another. This is a list of American state and local politicians who were convicted of crimes while in office (thus, the list does not include scandals or arrests that have not led to convictions; neither does it include crimes that occurred before taking office). Are these good role models? While I may focus on the differences between crimes and vices, would these politicians pass the new NFL standard?
Unfortunately, finding the statistics of current serving police officers with a criminal history is nearly impossible. Police have historically participated in drug trafficking, assaults, and batteries. In the United Kingdom, almost 1,000 officers with convictions from drug dealing are still active police officers. Are police who commit stop and frisks on a daily basis of individuals simply because of their color suffice as good role models? What about police officers who murder dogs when they execute an illegal (or at least should be) warrant? Are these good role models?
Finding statistics for teachers with criminal records proved difficult as well. Of course, there are the occasional female (and male) teachers caught having sex with their students. In Iowa, of the 443 driver's ed instructors, three have DUI convictions, two have assault convictions, and four have 12 or more other convictions. In New Hampshire, a teacher was recently arrested for allegedly assaulting a student. Even with knowledge that he was to be arrested, the school continued to allow the teacher to work. In the United Kingdom (for some reason, these are the only statistics I'm finding), 100 headteachers, 800 teachers, and 600 teaching assistants were found to have previous convictions but are still serving in their educational capacities. Should a teacher who committed a theft five years ago be in "charge" of a classroom? Should a teacher who has sex with their students be responsible for disciplining students? Would these teachers pass the NFL standard?
While I remain completely intrigued of why it is so difficult to find statistics for all three of the above groups, it can be without any doubt that there are politicians, police officers, and teachers currently serving in their capacities who have some type of criminal record.
Maybe the lack of statistics is due to unions, who have the legal duty to advocate for their members rather than the public; maybe it's laws that prohibit sharing this information. I don't know. But regardless, people in positions of influence and power - in contrast to NFL football players - have committed crimes in the past and yet continue to wield their influence and power over others.
Violence is bad. No doubt about it. But it's worse - to a higher degree - when initiated by someone who holds power and influence over others. Especially when it is the State who supposedly represents the "common good."
Why is some discrimination alright but not others? Is it possible that discrimination can be positive? Is the problem really discrimination or could it possibly be other conduct (i.e. hate, envy, power)?
From 2002-2011, about 805,000 women were the victims of violent crime from an intimate partner (current spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends); compared to only 173,000 men.
However, while 2.3 million women were the victims of violent crime as a result of non-intimate crimes (i.e. relatives, neighbors, strangers), over 3.3 million men were victims.
Thus, both groups are almost equally affected by violent crime: 3.1 million females and 3.5 million (indeed, men were often victimized more than women!).
Regardless of these unfortunate statistics, the problem of any violent crime isn't nearly as bad as the media and government portrays. In a country of almost 320 million, about 6.6 million are victims of violent crime. That's only about 1.5% of the population. Just think about that.
It's not a secret, we are at war in Syria and Iraq. The politicians support it, as do "we the people."
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the vote was 273-156 in support of arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS (after all, we do have a pretty good track record training rebels). Only 1/3 voted no - 71 Republicans and 85 Democrats (now there's bipartisanship!). The U.S. Senate also voted in support of intervention. 44 Democrats and 33 Republicans voted yes; while only 22 voted no.
Public support remains high for intervention, with 71% advocating for the use of airstrikes in Iraq and 65% for launching airstrikes in Syria (about a year ago, 45% of Americans favored military intervention in Syria).
And people may soon be demanding more intervention. In a recent poll, about 55% of Americans believe that the United States either intervenes too little in the world or just the right amount. Only 39% believe it does too much (about a year ago, 51% of Americans believed the U.S. does too much).
It's pretty scary. All it takes is the beheading of two American journalists to increase public support by almost 26% (In June, 45% supported airstrikes in Iraq; this jumped to 54% three weeks ago and is currently at 71%).
It's hard to believe we are living in the "libertarian moment." On the "intervention spectrum," foreign military intervention is quite possibly the worst kind of intervention (as war is mass murder). Yet, the public supports military intervention in both Iraq and Syria. Are people really advocating the libertarian philosophy?
Maybe I am too cynical, after all, "only" 48% of Americans currently support assisting Syrian rebels; while 40% oppose arming them. In other words, 60% of American support arming Syrian rebels. Have we not learned anything from history? We don't even have to go that far back - just last year we provided arms to Syrian rebels; shortly thereafter, we even trained rebels who would later join ISIS. Yet, we want to intervene even more?
And, what happens when we intervene? When we intervened in Pakistan a few years ago, we killed about 50 civilians for every militant killed - a success rate of 2%. Would we accept such failure from the private market? Let's say you buy $100 worth of groceries, but when you leave the store only $2 worth of it remains in your shopping cart (and it's SPAM btw). You would be okay with this? Of course not, you would walk back in the store and demand the other $98 worth of food! And we are just dealing with food, not a human life! We call ourselves "civilized," yet we would likely get more angry about getting screwed at Publix then we would hearing that a recent U.S. air strike killed two ISIS leaders and 100 Syrians.
It's depressing how little we learn from history (especially when it is so recent). It's also terrifying how easy it is for Americans to support the mass murder of innocent people overseas. And, just wait until a few terrorist plots are unfolded here in the U.S. - support for intervention will increase even more! Indeed, it's already beginning to happen (a man in New York was recently indicted for supporting ISIS and planning to kill Americans in the U.S.).
The propaganda and fear tactics will work as they always do. And, like always, we will forget our role in creating this mess to begin with. Instead, we will demand even more intervention - maybe this time, a strong charismatic Republican leader. He will demand even more military intervention overseas. Public support will reach through the roof. And, as always, U.S. airstrikes will kill innocent civilian; a few militants will die, but hundreds more will join in its ranks. The leader of ISIS may die, but another Al-Baghdadi will take charge. ISIS may dissolve, but a new group will take its place.
In all of this mess, thousands of human beings will die. But, there is a bright side: American corporations will profit (during the Iraq war, contractors made over $138 billion) . And that money will be spent in the U.S., which will create jobs. Our economy will grow again! The lives lost are just collateral damage - a means to an end. It's all for the greater good, right?
Hello. My name is James. And I am a critical thinker. [Hello James]. Well, at least I think I am. Let me think about it some more.