8 posts from June 2013

June 28, 2013

Rachel Jeantel, Handwriting, and No Child Left Behind

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

Her name isn’t as well known as Trayvon Martin’s, and her side-story is less sensational. And yet, Rachel Jeantel’s short time on the witness stand in the George Zimmerman trial—and the media’s response to it—says a lot about our contemporary society. As the last person to speak with 17-year-old Trayvon moments before George Zimmerman killed him, Rachel has been caught up in one of the most-watched trials of the last few years.

Rachel has been ridiculed on blogs and snickered at in the media for her time on the witness stand. She had testy exchanges with Zimmerman’s defense attorney Don West, some ”unpolished” responses to questions (i.e., responding to the hypothesis that Martin initiated contact with Zimmerman as “real retarded”), and at one point needing to speak up so the jury could hear her. It remains to be seen whether or not pointing out these attributes are attempts to undermine her credibility as a witness.

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June 24, 2013

#Language is #Culture

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

When I encounter hashtags, I am reminded that language is alive and a major element of culture. #duh

Hashtags are a word (or string of words) prefaced with the symbol “#”. First used to label groups and topics in discussion sites, then adopted by social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.), hashtags serve as a code or mark for a post.

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June 20, 2013

The Sociological Perspective on Other Animals

Corey wrennBy Corey Lee Wrenn

Instructor of Sociology and Ph.D. candidate,Colorado State University, Ft. Collins

Millions of Americans share their homes with dogs, cats, and goldfish. Have you ever considered what their role in human society might be? What about the spider in your bathtub? Are the members of other species persons, pets, or pests?

In the field of sociology, there are various ways of viewing society. Sociologists ascribe to one or more of these perspectives and this affiliation guides their understanding of social processes. For the most part, the social world of study is restricted to humanity. A growing body of research, however, argues that Nonhuman Animals play an important role in human interactions and have certainly shaped our environment. Several sociologists have recognized that the oppression of other animals tends to mirror and even aggravate the oppression of vulnerable human groups. Still others have argued that, regardless of the impact on humans, Nonhuman Animals deserve consideration in their own right.

Continue reading "The Sociological Perspective on Other Animals" »

June 17, 2013

Learning to be Human (From My Dog)

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter KaufmanPic 1

The other day I was out walking my dog, Emma, and we ran into Archie. Archie is a gentle old soul who lives around the corner. He is always eager to see Emma and usually goes out of his way to come over and say hello.

I’ve known Archie for a few years and have come to learn quite a bit about him: his favorite places to walk around town, what he likes to eat, his low tolerance for hot and humid weather, his dislike of cats and squirrels, and even where he likes to take a poop. In case you haven’t realized, Archie is dog, a black lab to be exact. Despite all that I know about Archie there is one thing I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know:  the name of his owner, much less anything about her.

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June 13, 2013

Educational Inequality: From Grade School to Graduation

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

Inequality in education seems to be one of the more counter-intuitive things I can imagine: how can our education system exacerbate existing inequalities?

And yet, we should not be surprised. Last summer I visited Arkansas, stopping by Little Rock Central High School, the location of one of the most powerful moments in American history.

Continue reading "Educational Inequality: From Grade School to Graduation" »

June 10, 2013

Where do Poor People Live?

SternheimerBy Karen Sternheimer

If someone asked you this question, how might you answer? For many of us living in cities, we might name specific neighborhoods that we associate with high levels of poverty. But that would only give us part of the answer.

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June 06, 2013

On My Honor: The Boy Scouts and Sexual Orientation

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

The Boy Scouts of America voted recently to change their membership policy. They passed the resolution to "remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone." The resolution actually reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

This is a large change for the organization as they have long denied membership – and leadership positions – based on sexual orientation. They also require members to have particular religious beliefs that are reflected in the oath.

The last word in the resolution sentence noted above is particularly interesting, as it suggests that sexual orientation may be still used as a reason for denying membership if other factors are present. Alone? Why would they need to keep that word there if they were opening up membership to youth of any sexual orientation?

June 03, 2013

Six Benches: Public Space and College Town Life

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn 

Urbanist William H. Whyte once wrote, "It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished." But, what happens when a place attracts the "wrong kind" of person?

This weekend, in my hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts, a group of 40 people stood in the cold rain to protest the removal of six benches from our downtown sidewalk. The mayor and the Business Improvement District made the decision based upon complaints from business owners over panhandlers using the benches "too much."

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