Letter to the Editor: Feb. 14, 2018

In last December’s issue Jimmy Graham, a sophomore Business major argued that UW-Parkside was unlike “many colleges” who “discourage free speech”. To some extent, I agree with Mr. Graham, since UW-Parkside does not inhibit the free exercise of constitutionally protected speech. But that is about all that I agree with from his argument.

Mr. Graham, like many other conservatives, lazily confuse “free speech” with the freedom to be free of the consequences of their ostensibly free speech. Moreover, many across the political spectrum, erroneously labor under the illusion that all speech is constitutionally protected; this too is a mistake.

While Mr. Graham may have had some negative experiences, they hardly compare to the institutional suppression of speech by others in this country, against those who suffer far greater consequences than his, for far longer periods of time (Colin Kaepernick being one particularly salient example).

I find it hard to credit his assertion that DePaul “did not promote free speech whatsoever”. If that were true, that school couldn’t have any curriculum in the social science or humanities, given the centrality of free speech in the classrooms to those disciplines. Indeed, it’s consistently ranked in the top 50 or top 20 film schools in the nation and in the top 25-18 drama schools in the nation thereby illustrating the absurdity of that claim.

He incredulously argues that the cancellation of his invited speaker was based on claims that “his views encouraged violence”. Surely Mr. Graham recognizes that universities have an in loco parentis responsibility to protect its students from violence wherever and whenever it might occur.

There’s certainly sufficient evidence that the mere appearance of some of the favorite conservative speakers (Milo Yiannopoulos for example) will predictably trigger a response in others to vigorously and sometimes violently, react to their presence. Thus for Mr. Graham to bemoan the cancellation of this event is tantamount to him gleefully looking forward to such reactions if only to substantiate claims, that university campuses are bastions of intolerance. When in fact, those institutions are doing their level best to ensure no one gets hurt and public facilities that we all pay for are kept intact.

In keeping with the espousal of his not too subtle ideological critique couched in a compliment, Mr. Graham then argues that “DePaul…is not the only school that is silencing the voices of conservatives” and that “across the country it is becoming seemingly more apparent that only one kind of thought will be tolerated”. Leaving aside how Mr. Graham’s many experiences with multiple universities across the country have equipped him to make such broad generalizations, his conclusion that public universities are somehow– in plain sight no less –stifling student speech by willingly hiring faculty with the knowledge that they’ll censor students in their classrooms, while paying them – is laughable in the extreme.

Mr. Graham’s diatribe traffics in the worse kind of political propaganda by reproducing a false persecution complex replete with anecdotal evidence, but woefully lacking in actual evidence or data to substantiate his claims. I’m glad he loves Parkside, but it’s no different than most public universities and their commitment to protect constitutionally protected speech as best as it can.

 

Michael Johnson Jr., Ph.D. Lecturer and Faculty Advisor, The Center for Liberal Studies

Community Connections | Suicide prevention… you are not alone

 

KRYSTAL DODGE | thorn008@rangers.uwp.edu

Suicide does not have a single cause. Substance abuse and untreated depression lead to higher risk of suicide. Having a strong circle and a good support network can help prevent suicide. It is a very complex issue that requires the collaboration of healthcare workers, individuals and their families, treatment services and loved ones.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the tenth highest cause of death in the United States for all ages. Approximately 105 people die by suicide daily, and suicide takes the lives of 38,000 Americans a year. The highest rates of suicide among Americans are in Whites, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives. There is 1 successful suicide for every 25 suicide attempts, and that increases to 1 successful suicide for every 4 attempts in the elderly. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) states that only half of people experiencing a major depressive episode receive treatment.

Warning signs

According to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, there are warning signs to look out for: talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself, about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain or worrying about being  a burden to others. Other things to watch for are increased substance use, withdrawing, extreme mood swings, sleep changes and recklessness. These are all acute signs. If you observe these signs in yourself or someone else, you should seek help. You can call 911 or go to the hospital. You can also call Lifeline (USA) at 800-273-8255 OR Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling. There are many other crisis lines available.

Resources at UW-Parkside

According to the UW-Parkside website, free personal counseling services and referrals are available to all UW-Parkside students. These services are performed by licensed personnel and meet federal guidelines. There is both individual and group counseling available for a wide variety of things.

These services are free and confidential, and this means the information will not and cannot legally be shared without your written permission. You can call to set up a counseling session at (262) 595-2366. If you have an emergency, you may call the UW-Parkside police at (262) 595-2911.

If you or someone you know are feeling suicidal or depressed, please seek help. There is hope. According to the TAPS study, 80-90 % of Americans who seek treatment for their depression can treat it successfully using therapy and/or medication. In the words of Phil Donahue remember that, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Keystone spill adds to the reasons against expansion

Keystone
A photo of the pipeline from outside the perimeter where the sign warns of pipes under high pressure. COURTESY OF WWW.POPSCI.COM

JOSEPH CANNING | canni001@rangers.uwp.edu

Rebuking former President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump reversed his predecessor’s late 2015 decision in March of this year to halt the construction of the fourth phase of the Keystone oil pipeline system commonly referred to as Keystone XL.

Trump’s—admittedly predictable—greenlighting of the pipeline once more drew the ire of environmentalists across the United States who have collectively focused their energy on preventing this pipeline’s construction as well as advocates for Native-American sovereignty.

Despite a spate of protests, Keystone XL’s fate looked more certain than ever before; however, on the 16th, a massive oil spill from one of the existing pipes in South Dakota made it clear that environmentalists’ concerns were far from unfounded and that Keystone was not the state-of-the-art pipeline system that the national and concerned state governments had been led to believe.

Keystone is unsafe

This latest spill—totaling about 210,000 gallons according to CNN—is the third in six years and is the second in South Dakota where 16,800 gallons leaked in 2016. The third release was about equal in volume to the 2016 incident. The clean-up for the smaller spills each took roughly two months; this latest spill will take an astronomically larger amount of time to remedy. The full extent of the recent spill’s damage remains unclear.

As stated in an article published by Reuters on November 27, TransCanada—the company responsible for Keystone—claimed the risk of a release of more than 50 barrels (2,100 gallons) to be “no more than once every seven to 11 years over the entire length of the pipeline.” Comically, a spill was estimated to occur in South Dakota “no more than once every 41 years.”

It is truly baffling how unrealistic these risk assessments were. Spills, some catastrophic, seem to be much more common than anyone was led to believe. Further complicating matters, the oil contained within the pipelines is sourced from Alberta where the so-called “dirty” oil is thick and especially hazardous and difficult to clean up.

New pipeline, same issues

As for the Keystone XL pipeline, it seems insane to go ahead with its construction with the knowledge that TransCanada was either obfuscating the dangers posed by its pipelines or has been grossly misunderstanding those dangers. It is also negligent to public health and safety to continue with the project when a high volume of ground-water exists along its approved route.

Furthermore, as a strictly political concern, Keystone XL would unacceptably infringe upon the land-rights and spiritual concerns of native peoples along its path. The scope of the protests last November over another pipeline near Standing Rock reservation also in South Dakota show that American natives will not stand to have their rights be ignored.

It is not worth it

Any economic benefit the Keystone XL pipeline may bring, it is growing increasingly difficult to reconcile to the immediate damages to civil rights and the environment it is sure to cause.   

 

Trump plays victim despite growing evidence

JOSEPH CANNING | canni001@rangers.uwp.edu

The allegations and investigations directed toward U.S. President Donald Trump and his team have created a mounting tension since he was elected almost exactly a year ago. Defying these allegations, Trump has repeatedly accused the accusers of supporting a baseless “witch hunt” against him over Twitter.

On Monday, Oct. 30, Paul Manafort—Trump’s former campaign manager—had twelve charges of money laundering and conspiracy formally brought against him.

While Manafort’s crimes may not directly incriminate Trump of anything, they reveal a dizzying thread of events that refutes his “witch hunt” narrative that much more.

The charges

Manafort and his accomplice, Richard Gates, allegedly used offshore bank accounts to hide about $18 million from the U.S. government according to the indictment. The same document also stated that “Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income.”

These charges would be bad enough, but the curious source of all that money landed him with the charges of conspiracy: extensive involvement in Ukrainian politics. Manafort acted as an adviser to the former, infamous Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who was deposed by popular vote in early 2014.

Controversy abounds

Yanukovych was the most prominent member of the Party of Regions—a pro-Russian party within Ukraine. His tenure was marred by widespread cronyism, corruption, critically mishandled finances, and violence toward protesters.

Already, Manafort’s role as Trump’s campaign manager should be looked at with suspicion. Manafort is evidently a man who does not concern himself with morals which is terribly ironic for a conservative platform; however, it does suit Trump’s dethatched pragmatism.

The news that has Trump sweating under his collar though is the confirmation of clear connections to the Russian government that were available to him through Manafort.

The Russian connection

Returning to Yanukovych’s tale, after he was ousted, he promptly fled to Russia, a natural ally to him. According to an October 2014 article by the BBC, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated he “will say it openly—[Yanukovych] asked to be driven away to Russia, which we did.”

It is no stretch to say that the campaign manager would have been able to contact Yanukovych in 2016 and it is apparent that Yanukovych has personal ties to the most powerful person in Russia.

On July 11, emails were widely circulated that revealed Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 who claimed to have “dirt” on rival politician Hillary Clinton. That meeting reveals that Trump’s campaign was considering Russia as a possible political ally.

On Twitter, Trump defended Manafort with lies to the last, claiming “NO COLLUSION”. Unfortunately for the president, Manafort plead guilty to that charge just a couple of hours later.

 

Wisconsin senate talks new immigration bill

WisconsinStateCapitol_senate_img_1001
The interior of the Wisconsin State Senate. Senate Bill 275 was introduced here on May 25. Photograph taken by Dori (dori@merr.info).

JESSICA DIAZ | diaz0034@rangers.uwp.eduSenate Bill 275 was introduced by Senator Nass (R-Whitewater), Stroebel (R-Saukville), Craig (R- Town of Vernon) and Vukmir (R-Brookfield) on May 25, 2017. Senate Bill 275 prohibits cities, villages, towns and counties from enacting policies that protect undocumented immigrants. Furthermore, the bill would require that local law enforcement cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Under the proposal, those in violation can face fines between $500.00 to $5,000.00 for each day.

There was a public hearing regarding this bill on Oct. 12 and Representative Nass indicated that this bill was aimed at “criminals”. Unfortunately, in some instances undocumented immigrants are often labeled as “criminals.” There was a crowd of about 500 people, and the majority opposed the bill.

On Nov. 3, the bill was referred to the Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform and Senators Nass, Wanggaard and Lasee voted for the bill to move forward and it will now go to the assembly.

There are several problems with Bill 275. For one, the bill is too open ended, and this can lead to negative repercussions. Additionally, the bill can increase racial profiling. It can cause immigrants without documents to become more vulnerable, and if they are victims of crimes, they will be afraid to report the crimes. If this bill were to pass and be signed into law, Wisconsin would meet the criteria to be considered “hostile” towards immigrants.

We must stop and look around us. We are all immigrants, and we live in a nation of opportunities. There is a need to be more inclusive and civil with others. It is time to tell our state representatives that Wisconsin does not want this type of legislation. We need to let them know that there is no room for hate, fear and separation in Wisconsin. I urge you to call your representatives in the Assembly and tell them to vote against Bill 275.

Jessica Diaz is a senior majoring in political science and is the President of PSG.