current-events

Violent Video Games, Mass Shootings and Mental Health

The Second Amendment

(Photo Credit: Fox News)

As Dr. Patrick Markey, Associate Professor of Psychology at Villanova University, recently disclosed on CNN, no empirical research evinces that playing violent video games leads to real-world violence. Although researchers should continue to investigate any potential connections between violent video games and violence in society, we shouldn’t get distracted by the most important issue we should be focused on concerning the recent mass shootings: mental health.  Even though all of the most recent mass shooters covered in the national media devoted significant time to playing violent video games, all of them had serious mental health issues that were not addressed.

While it seems that the divisive national debate about gun control and gun rights is dominating our attention, we need to dedicate more attention to mental health.  We need to make greater efforts to ensure that those with mental health problems do not get their hands on guns, and we need to provide them with the critical mental health services they warrant.

If we really desire to make America safer, then we won’t simply have discourses about how to reduce the number of guns in the hands of Americans; we will have meaningful discussions about how to decrease the likelihood of the mentally ill getting their hands on guns.  It’s time to get real about guns—not overly emotional.  Guns in the hands of mentally healthy Americans save lives.  The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the fundamental right to protect themselves with guns.  Knee-jerk reactions to recent mass shootings shouldn’t lead to diminishing the freedoms safeguarded by the Second Amendment.

It’s probably a good idea for parents to prevent their children from watching violent movies and television programs for exorbitant amounts of time, and it’s probably a good idea to keep your children from playing violent video games for an abnormal number of hours.  Adults should be aware of the number of hours they give to watching violent television programs and movies as well.  For those adults who play violent video games, reflect on the impact that this video game playing may have on you.  We have to be more responsible about the things we allow ourselves and children to consume, considering those phenomena could have negative impacts on us that go undetected.

Let’s not give violent television programming, movies, and video games too much credit for the recent mass shootings, however.

Our efforts to reduce the number of mass shootings should be concentrated on addressing mental health issues, preventing the mentally ill from obtaining guns, and ensuring that those who aren’t mentally ill are able to get guns to defend themselves and others from those who would attempt to engage in mass shootings.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Stop Paying Lip Service to Dr. King’s Legacy

President Obama and Dr. King

(Photo Credit: BET)

Too often we hear people quoting lines from various speeches Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered, and they express their commitment to working to achieve and honor King’s legacy.  Unfortunately, too many people who quote Dr. King’s lines are only paying lip service to his true legacy.  Although King envisioned a day when America would have a Black President, he would be disappointed with President Obama’s economic record.  The national unemployment rate for Black is 13.4%.  In many major cities across the nation that are heavily Black, the unemployment rate is at least double what it is for Blacks nationally.  While all of the blame cannot be placed on President Obama for his horrible economic record, most of the blame does have to fall squarely on his shoulders.  This is the same President who said that he has the ability to bring people together across party lines to accomplish “change you can believe in.”

President Obama promised that he could come to Washington, D.C. and work across partisan divides, breaking political gridlock in Washington, D.C., to pass substantive legislation that would ameliorate Americans economically, socially, educationally, professionally, and personally.  When is this going to happen? President Obama has had over four years to make significant progress toward making this happen.

Although many people desired to romanticize his speech about Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the reality is President Obama has failed miserably in providing economic uplift for Blacks and the poor—the very people Dr. King gave his life for and the very people the March on Washington supported.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for more people to stop being mesmerized by those who employ Dr. King’s words, and start to hold them accountable for having deeds and records evincing a real commitment to fulfilling King’s dream.  King was not a man who simply talked and gave speeches around the nation—he was a man of action.  He had such a deep love for marginalized people that he found it necessary to risk his own life advocating for them.  Dr. King was not interested in self-aggrandizement.  He found it more essential to prioritize the collective good over any personal ambition.

Dr. King strongly opposed war, which is seen mostly clearly in his opposition to the Vietnam War.  King warned America of the dangers of her rising militarism.  On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama expressed how great of an influence Dr. King had on his life.  Unfortunately, this great influence is not materializing in his actions.  President Obama is now asking Congress for authorization to use military force against Syria.  As a candidate for President in 2008, President Obama said that he would always rely on diplomacy and talk with all world leaders, including those who are not friends of the United States.  What a dramatic change: diplomacy advocate to warmonger.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on foreign policy?  No.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on the economy?  No.

Gracie Mansion, Rev. Martin Luther King press ...

Photo by Dick DeMarsico. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

For those who continue to support every action of President Obama, they’re no better than he is.  You cannot be truly committed to the legacy of Dr. King and agree with every decision of President Obama, especially those economic and foreign policy decisions diametrically opposed to King’s economic and foreign policy positions.  While this piece is not attempting to get you to discontinue your support of President Obama, it does call you to hold him accountable to aligning his actions with the words and actions of King.

Until President Obama gets legislation passed that truly advances King’s dream, he will continue to pay lip service to the dream and not be a foot soldier in the mission to help Americans fully experience the dream.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

It’s Time for Catholic Priests to End Celibacy Vows

Pope

It’s becoming increasingly clear that many Catholic priests aren’t able to abstain from desiring and having sexual intercourse.  Unfortunately, a number of them have elected to have sex with children, which, of course, is child molestation.  For those Catholic priests who want to marry and have sex, they should be allowed.  A change in the celibacy doctrine for Catholic priests will improve the image, mission and purpose of the Catholic Church.  While it’s certainly possible to remain faithful to a lifelong commitment to celibacy, those Catholic priests who cannot persist to honor this vow are attempting to hide their inability to keep this vow.  By having sex with innocent children, they think their misdeeds will go unrecognized.  Fortunately, their unlawful actions are being exposed.

During the current election process of a new Pope, Catholic leaders need to select someone who will help the Catholic Church to take a serious stand against child molestation.  It’s also vital for the next Pope to begin a candid global discourse about allowing priests to marry and have sex if they desire.  Although many will be resistant to giving priests the authority to marry and have sex, this is the right thing for the Catholic Church to do.  If the Catholic Church does not take meaningful steps to end child molestation from within its borders, then the Catholic Church will inevitably become associated with evil instead of good.

Why continue a practice that causes more harm than good?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Political Correctness Threatens Free Speech and Dissent

At the recent Fellowship Foundation National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson gave a speech that has received tremendous national attention because it critiques President Obama’s handling of the national debt, healthcare, education, taxes, and etc. in ways unfavorable to him.  What should not get lost in the responses to the speech, however, are the powerful comments he makes about America’s current insistence on political correctness.  Political correctness is threatening to diminish one of most important purposes of the First Amendment: protect unpopular speech.  While the First Amendment still protects unpopular speech, many people in positions of power are finding ways to create conditions where dissenting voices will face serious repercussions.  While it was not the politically correct thing to do, Dr. Carson did not allow a burgeoning American penchant for political correctness to keep him from disagreeing with President Obama on substantive issues while at this event that traditionally has not been a place where dissent has been accepted and while being in close proximity to President Obama.

When one elects to defy political correctness, he or she must be ready for backlash.  Many employers will establish a hostile agenda against employees when they voice disagreement with their policies and practices.  Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with the responsibility of protecting employees from this type of discrimination, employees are not always safeguarded from this discrimination.  Many employees are too afraid to exercise their First Amendment rights because they fear losing their jobs.  Political correctness informs employees to remain silent and keep their disagreements with their employers private.  Unfortunately, too many people buy into this promotion of silence and end up getting crushed by the misery of their silence.

More lawyers, philanthropists, organizations, and etc. need to be willing to help individuals to combat efforts by powerful employers to mute their employees.

What good is the First Amendment if the American people are afraid to exercise the rights it guarantees?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other organizations deserve tremendous appreciation for their offering of free legal representation to individuals to fight against employers’ efforts to abrogate their employees’ First Amendment rights.

America would have never gained her liberation from Great Britain had it not been for the value of dissent the colonists evinced.

Some employers are even arrogant enough to place in writing that they forbid their employees from using their First Amendment rights to speak in opposition to them.  We certainly need more organizations like the ACLU and NAACP to rise up and aid in striking a mighty blow against political correctness and First Amendment violations.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needs to be much more aggressive in defending employees against employers who engender conditions where political correctness is mandated, especially when it comes to employees’ rights and requests to have religious, racial, and viewpoint accommodations.

While this piece has focused primarily on political correctness in the workplace (and a little on political correctness in general), it is crucial to understand that political correctness is present in virtually every space of American life.  We deny the dangers of political correctness and don’t engage in efforts to eradicate it at our own peril.

What did you think about Dr. Benjamin Carson’s statements about political correctness?  What did you think about his critique of President Obama’s handling of the national debt, education, taxes, and healthcare?  Do you agree or disagree that political correctness is a threat to free speech and dissent?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

5 Things Republicans Can Do to Recruit More Hispanic Voters

Marco Rubio

If the Republican nominee for President in 2016 would like to have a chance to win, he or she must receive significantly more Hispanic votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012.  As Republicans attempt to improve their outreach with Hispanic voters, this article offers five things they can do to gain more Hispanic voters.

1.      Nominate Senator Marco Rubio for President in 2016.  By nominating Senator Marco Rubio for President in 2016, this sends Hispanics a substantive and symbolic message that the Republican Party is committed to ameliorating its relationship with Hispanics and to championing policies that will make a difference in their lives.  Hispanics need to see a Hispanic nominated on a national Republican ticket, and Senator Rubio is an excellent choice for fulfilling their longing.

2.      Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Congressional Republicans must be active in passing comprehensive immigration reform to bolster the number of Hispanics who vote for the Republican nominee for President.  Republicans need to support a bill that would include the Dream Act, a pathway to legal citizenship, and grant a temporary legal status to undocumented workers who don’t have criminal records.  Yes, include strong border security in the bill, but don’t let your passions for border security blockade granting a temporary legal status for undocumented workers who don’t have criminal records.

3.      Don’t Mention the Word “Deportation.”  When Republicans mention the word “deportation,” they send Hispanics unwelcoming messages.  These messages are usually linked to some of the most unappealing statements.  When Republicans mention the word “deportation,” Democrats will remind Hispanics about Mitt Romney’s comments about “self-deportation,” which proved to be wildly unpopular with Hispanic voters.

4.      Focus on the Economy.  Republicans do a better job with Hispanics and most groups when they concentrate on the economy, instead of on divisive social issues.  Meet with Hispanic business leaders and entrepreneurs and let them know exactly how Republican economic policies can enhance their economic circumstances.

5.      Have Substantive Meetings with Hispanics.  Republicans need to travel across the country and meet with diverse groups of Hispanics, even those who have never voted for a Republican.  Seek advice from these diverse groups of Hispanics and adopt at least one idea you hear from many Hispanics that you don’t necessarily agree with.  Our representative democracy is heavily dependent on compromise.  In order to govern effectively, Republicans must present themselves as being equipped to govern.  If Hispanics don’t see the Republican Party as a party willing to compromise, then they will not vote for a party that’s so beholden to its positions that it’s willing to sacrifice effective governance for its stubbornness.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Letter to Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Dear Colin Powell:

I would like to thank you for your many distinguished years of military and public service.  The work you’ve done is extraordinary.  Your true American story is inspiring and speaks to what is possible in this great nation.  Mr. Powell, I have deep respect for you.

It’s becoming increasingly ostensible that you’re no longer a republican.  You’ve voted for President Obama in the last two presidential elections and have been fiercely critical of the Republican Party for the last 8 years.  While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being critical of one’s political party, you seem to find nothing you like about the party any longer.  You, however, have no problem with finding things you like about the Democratic Party and President Obama.

If you really believe that the Republican Party does not value minorities, then why are you still claiming to be a republican?  Why not change your political affiliation?  Are you masquerading as a republican when you’re really a democrat for the potential political benefits this can offer the Democratic Party?  Are you really that thrilled with the Democratic Party in the last 8 years, or do you just have a fondness for President Obama?  If you’re using the label of republican against republicans, then it’s having little to no impact on voters.

You’ve never really been too comfortable in the Republican Party in the first place.  Why continue to experience this discomfort?  Would the Democratic Party make you feel more comfortable, or would you feel more relaxed as an independent?  Are you enjoying the spotlight that your opposition to republican presidential candidates gains you?  Do you feel the need to have substantial national political power and see this as your way to command this desired power?

The policies, values, and worldview of President Obama are diametrically opposed to the Republican Party.  You’ve given the policies, values, and worldview of President Obama ringing endorsements.  You cannot honestly admit that you’re committed to the Republican Party.  What would it hurt if you changed parties?  Someone with an illustrious record as you have is more than entitled to do what you please.  If you’re truly a republican, then publish a piece about why you’re a republican and how you reconcile this with being a zealous supporter of President Obama.

Mr. Powell, you’ve given many people the right to question the authenticity of your claim to be a republican.  Don’t get angry when people question your genuineness about being a republican—simply explain to them why you are.  Many democrats, republicans and independents are curious about why have elected to remain a republican.

Would it be best for you to sever all ties with the Republican Party?

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Letter to All Ungrateful Parents

Black Family

Dear Ungrateful Parents:

When you have children who are going great things and you never give them any praise, you deserve to be called ungrateful parents.  You should show your children who are doing wonderful things how much you appreciate them.  You could have children who have dropped out of school, on drugs, selling drugs and/or etc. but they are not.  Don’t simply say the reason they‘re not doing unbecoming things is you reared them effectively.  While you may have done an excellent job rearing your children, this does not mean that they had to make good decisions.  They had free will to make horrible decisions and live a life that would bring you shame.

Too often children who always get into trouble receive the most attention from their parents—while the children who are doing honorable things are overlooked.  This shouldn’t be a reality in many homes.  Take time to show your children you love them and are thankful for the positive things they do.  When your children see you’re not going to give them any special recognition and attention for the noteworthy things they do, then they can turn to doing negative things as a means of getting your attention.  Children know poor behavior gains attention from their parents.  Your children want to know they have your attention.

Don’t work your children like they are your slaves.  Your children are not your slaves!  When they do things around the house to make a valuable contribution to the workload, let them know you appreciate what they do and do something special for them from time to time to prove your appreciation.

When your children bring home good or great grades, this is a big deal and you need to show them this is a big deal.  Don’t simply act like getting good or great grades is what they’re expected to do without truly rewarding them for their grades.  Classroom demands are increasing for students and their great work needs to be acknowledged and rewarded.  Everyone likes to be acknowledged and rewarded at some point.  It’s quite understandable for a child to want to receive praise and incentives for the great work they do at school and home.

Learn to listen to your children before it’s too late.  Your child can be considering suicide and you not even know because you’re too busy fussing and/or cussing at him or her about some inane matter(s).  When you talk to your children, you can learn about their problems, fears, dreams, and etc., which can help you to be better able to lead them on a path to success and aid them in proper development.

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that left many young children dead, this should reveal to you how important it is to treasure each moment with your children.  When your child goes to school and you’re at work, it’s not guaranteed that he or she will return.  Every opportunity you have to love on your child should be seized.

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison