How to Make Freedom Idiot-Proof

Every foreigner knows the U.S. for being the “land of the free and home of the brave”. Although the U.S. government avoids ratifying many specific human rights treaties they are still one of the top countries when it comes to upholding their citizen’s human rights. Freedom is a huge theme in America and everyone always talks about what their rights are, and they are quick to speak up when their human rights are being abused.

Maybe I should learn to speak up, too. Let me try.

Spending ten days in Ohio, I’m here to report that I’ve seen many public signs that violate basic human rights found in the U.S. Constitution. Some of them are hilarious, if you ask me. The very first Amendment, for example, is breached in most libraries across the country. How can one exercise their right to free speech when they read signs that demand ‘Library Silence’. I was shushed at in a university library the other day when trying to express a scholarly thought – not only was my right of free speech violated but in the shock of the experience robbed me of myintellectual property – that’s a double right violation right there. See what I mean? And that’s not all.

Another set of signs that violates our basic human rights begins with signs prohibiting people from littering. Every time we are not allowed to throw our burger wrapper or coffee cup on the ground because there’s a sign saying ‘Do not litter. Use the bins provided.’ we are forced to go out of our way to dispose of our trash which takes away from our precious free time and wastes our energy that could be used for more productive activities like watching TV – this sounds very much like involuntary servitude, to which the only exception is as punishment for a crime. So if you’re not a criminal, you are being cheated out of yet another human right. I protest!

Finally, it is frustrating to see signs demanding that people wash my hands with a description of how to do it – these signs that are seen most commonly in restaurants, schools and hospital bathrooms. Free people living or traveling in the land of the free should be free to choose to be dirty and bacteria-ridden if they chose so to be. Granted, I haven’t been able to find an Amendment to fit this particular crime against human rights, but I feel violated anyway. As if a bathroom door or mirror has any right to dictate any man, woman or child’s level of cleanliness. I protest again!

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t protest too much. After all, the second Amendment allows citizens to keep and bear arms…

Asking Strangers Controversial Questions

I came to Cleveland with a very ambitious project in mind. I wanted to write a compelling article about abortion. I could already picture myself talking to pregnant girls who were considering abortion, or those who had already had one. I thought I’d just as one student and they’d give me several contacts willing to line up and tell me their personal life stories. A week and a half later and I only have three days left in Kent. Despite me trying really hard, I have found no one who has had or considered having an abortion.

I didn’t realize the cultural differences in openness about speaking about abortion. Everyone here is extremely friendly, but they need to be approached with care when it comes to such a sensitive topic. Many people who I approach won’t even utter the word ‘abortion’ or will say it in hushed tones. Sometimes their facial expression changes too – whether it’s shock that I would ask a stranger such a delicate question or the amusement on a priests face when I ask for only 5 minutes of his time to explain the churches complicated stance on this.

By asking many different strangers questions about abortion, I have learned not to judge a book by its cover. Some of the young college-aged students who I approach seemed very timid and closed-minded. On the other hand, those who I was the most nervous to approach, a local Catholic Church priest or an older Amish man, were happy to share their views and never once asked me about my religious views and showed no judgment towards me for asking this.

Taking Iva’s advice, I have also learned to introduce myself in a way that will make people comfortable speaking to be, before busting out the big guns. Being raised in an Americanized International School gave me the false impression of understanding American culture. But I have realized that I am only now beginning to discover it. I hope to use what I’ve learned to gather more information so that I’m able to give my paper the justice that such a controversial and important topic deserves.

Guest Column: Remember May 4th, Support Ukraine

“Shame and tragedy in America; the photographs accuse; the crime in Kent remains unpunished…” Originally published by Izvestia, a Soviet newspaper, I saw this quote at the May 4th memorial at Kent State. Being at the memorial and watching the video had a significant effect on me because my parents are currently in the middle of a controversial protest in which people are dying. I believe the above quote could be adopted by an American newspaper and replace “America” with “Ukraine,” and “Kent” with “Kiev”; it would make a perfect headline for the horrifying events of which my parents are part.  Kent State and the city of Maidan may be separated by over 5,000 miles, with different languages and cultures – but they are one in spirit. Every Kent State student has heard about the May 4th massacre, but few know Ukraine’s story.

http://www.kentwired.com/opinon/article_552eb45c-8880-11e3-a5fc-001a4bcf6878.html

 

Remembering the Kent State Massacre – What is Freedom?

On Monday, May 4th in 1970 some students went out to gather by the bell despite the threat of tanks on their campus and being surrounded by the National Guard. They were asked to leave for their own safety, but they didn’t move until they were attacked with tear gas. They threw tear gas canisters as well as rocks back at the armed men that were advancing towards them. Once there, several of them got down and aimed their guns at those protesters who were the bravest and most vocal. The National Guard ended up the gathering and leaving and the students believed that they had won. They didn’t get a chance to celebrate for long, because out of nowhere a group of the guard looked back at the students, turned themselves around without provocation, and began to fire.

Are We Actually Free? was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.

Kent State University students thought they knew the answer to this question when they gathered on campus grounds to protest America expanding the Vietnam War to Cambodia on May 4, 1970. It was the promise and illusion of freedom that led them to fearlessly stand up to the National Guard and make demands to talk to the governor and to the president. But just like on the internet, not everything that you read on paper is 100 percent true, even when it’s written in the Constitution.

The students used their right to free speech and peaceful assembly as stated in the First Amendment as a shield against the government forces but this was not enough to protect them from tear gas and violence. The government wasn’t happy that these students, who were privileged enough to go to school on this beautiful government-funded campus, had the nerve to question and go against their political decisions.

Even though the protestors were facing violence and were treated unfairly and had their basic rights breached, they still believed that certain rights would hold up. On Monday, May 4th in 1970 some students went out to gather by the bell despite the threat of tanks on their campus and being surrounded by the National Guard. They were asked to leave for their own safety, but they didn’t move until they were attacked with tear gas.

Although the tear gas made them retreat they were not done protesting and they made this very clear. They threw tear gas canisters as well as rocks back at the armed men that were advancing towards them. The National Guard split up to chase all the students away from the grounds they had previously occupied and towards the parking lot. Once there, several of them got down and aimed their guns at those protesters who were the bravest and most vocal.

The students were taken back by such a display, but they continued protesting, believing that this was just a scare tactic and that the guns were not even loaded. The National Guard ended up the gathering and leaving and the students believed that they had won. They didn’t get a chance to celebrate for long, because out of nowhere a group of the guard looked back at the students, turned themselves around without provocation, and began to fire.

The students had no idea that the guns were loaded, and those who were too far to see and only heard had believed the sound to be of fireworks. But the sound was of death. Out of over seventy shots fired, thirteen hit victims – killing four, paralyzing one and injuring eight. None of them could have predicted that this would happen. They had false security from the words they read in their constitution and that they recited in their national anthem.

Forty years of so-called development later we see this sort of phenomenon repeat itself regularly worldwide. We hear the word democracy and we instantly feel safe without looking deeper into our situation. But we need to think and question to be able to decipher the truth. We need to be assertive individuals instead of a herd of sheep and only then will we have the ability to transform the system and create the ideal government. Freedom is more than just a state. It is ever changing and having freedom is an ongoing process that we must constantly work on in order to keep. The four students died in an attempt to regain their freedom for which we must commemorate them, and use them as inspiration to keep fighting so that we never lose ours.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

Are We Actually Free?

Kent State University students thought they knew the answer to this question when they gathered on campus grounds to protest America expanding the Vietnam War to Cambodia on May 4, 1970. It was the promise and illusion of freedom that led them to fearlessly stand up to the National Guard and make demands to talk to the governor and to the president. But just like on the Internet, not everything that you read on paper is 100 percent true, even when it’s written in the Constitution.

The students used their right to free speech and peaceful assembly as stated in the First Amendment as a shield against the government forces but this was not enough to protect them from tear gas and violence. The government wasn’t happy that these students, who were privileged enough to go to school on this beautiful government-funded campus, had the nerve to question and go against their political decisions.

Even though the protestors were facing violence and were treated unfairly and had their basic rights breached, they still believed that certain rights would hold up. On Monday May 4th in 1970 some students went out to gather by the bell despite the threat of tanks on their campus and being surrounded by the National Guard. They were asked to leave for their own safety, but they didn’t move until they were attacked with tear gas.

Although the tear gas made them retreat they were not done protesting and they made this very clear. They threw tear gas canisters as well as rocks back at the armed men that were advancing towards them. The National Guard split up to chase all the students away from the grounds they had previously occupied and towards the parking lot. Once there, several of them got down and aimed their guns at those protesters who were the bravest and most vocal.

The students were taken back by such a display, but they continued protesting, believing that this was just a scare tactic and that the guns were not even loaded. The National Guard ended up gathering and leaving and the students believed that they had won. They didn’t get a chance to celebrate for long, because out of no where a group of the guard looked back at the students, turned themselves around without provocation, and began to fire.

The students had no idea that he guns were loaded, and those who were too far to see and only heard had believed the sound to be of fireworks. But the sound was of death. Out of over seventy shots fired, thirteen hit victims – killing four, paralyzing one and injuring eight. None of them could have predicted that this would happen. They had false security from the words they read in their constitution and that they recited in their national anthem.

Forty years of so-called development later we see this sort of phenomenon repeat itself regularly worldwide. We hear the word democracy and we instantly feel safe without looking deeper into our situation. But we need to think and question to be able to decipher the truth. We need to be assertive individuals instead of a herd of sheep and only then will we have the ability to transform the system and create the ideal government. Freedom is more than just a state. It is ever changing and having freedom is an ongoing process that we must constantly work on in order to keep. The four students died in attempt to regain their freedom for which we must commemorate them, and use them as inspiration to keep fighting so that we never lose ours.

The Black Squirrels of Kent State University

Every time I step outside to walk through the Kent State University campus, I am on the lookout with my camera close by. In 1961 ten cages containing black squirrels from Ontario Park in London were brought to KSU. They were released on the campus and it became their home. The most unexpected thing was that the black squirrels could mate with the local gray squirrels and the black gene dominated which helped the population grow. The students and staff at the university took a liking to the cute black fur-balls right away and started the annual Black Squirrel Festival, the Black Squirrel Run, the Black Squirrel Radio and many more Black Squirrel Somethings.

Squirrel is the New Black – Since 1961 was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.

Being new to such a cold climate caused me to walk around campus at a quick pace and looking down to keep as warm as possible. It wasn’t until Candace Bowen pointed out that there were squirrels all over the place that made me decide to look up at a tree that I was passing and I saw one right away. This resulted in almost 20 minutes of me chasing squirrels from tree to tree trying to take a nice picture. At -18 Celsius this was not a good idea, but it wasn’t until my fingers were too cold to press the buttons on my camera that I realized that I was actually freezing and ran inside.

I have always been an animal lover and since there are no squirrels in Prague, I haven’t really gotten to see many of them. Now every time I step outside to walk through the Kent State University campus, I am on the lookout with my camera close by. It is amazing how many squirrels there are here, and that most of them are black. What’s even more amazing is the story of how they got here.

Speaking to the Dean of Communications and Information, Stanley Wearden, this morning I was told that there were ten cages containing black squirrels from Ontario Park in London. This was back in 1961. They were released on the campus and it became their home. Larry Wooddell and Biff Staples, the superintendent of Kent State’s land and a tree expert are the men responsible for this wonderful phenomenon. When the first release proved a success they went back for more cages. The most unexpected thing was that the black squirrels could mate with the local gray squirrels and the black gene dominated which helped the population grow.

The students and staff at the university took a liking to the cute black fur-balls right away and started the annual Black Squirrel Festival, the Black Squirrel Run, the Black Squirrel Radio and many more Black Squirrel Somethings. Three years ago, the squirrels celebrated their 50th anniversary at Kent, and they continue to live and thrive on the school’s campus. Hard to believe that Woodall’s “Operation Black Squirrel” turned into such a success. Walking around campus today you will find actual squirrels in almost every tree and running around leaving tracks in the snow – but you will also find black squirrel toys and other tokens of them on the desks of the university staff and in other unsuspecting places. I guess I’m not the only one who’s squirrel-crazed.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.