S U P M A C

R 2012 E B O T C O

ol r t n o C d n a , s e s u a ,C e r u t ? l u C : Feminism s e d e c e N n o h Gun Viole • Mass Shootings and the Media • W
e wing Stat S a s a C N

CONTENTS FROM THE EDITOR

NC AS A SWING STATE

5 10 24
15 18 20 22 24 27 29 30

MASS SHOOTINGS AND THE MEDIA

Dear Readers, It might seem rather strangely timed to cover gun violence during an election in which gun laws aren’t even at stake. Why choose to cover guns rather than the economy? Frankly, I can’t think of a better time. The argument over the right to bear arms, in all of its moral ambiguity, epitomizes all that is complicated about American politics. If your right to bear arms can infringe upon my right to live and breathe, do we both end up losing? The question isn’t limited to gun control. Does the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest a gay soldier’s funeral infringe upon the right of the mourners to grieve in peace? Does a woman’s right to affordable birth control infringe upon her religious employer who doesn’t agree with contraception? If we can communicate about the issues surrounding gun violence, we can communicate about even the most complex, contentious issues at stake in this election. And if we can do that, maybe we can make progress with clarity and leave the violence behind. Happy reading! Carey Hanlin Editor-in-Chief

WHO NEEDS FEMINISM?
The Case For Stricter Laws Voter ID Laws NC as a Swing State What’s Happening to Medicaid? Medicare’s Dilemma Women and Latino Voters in 2012 Gun Violence Intro The Gun Control Debate Revisited STAFF
carey hanlin editor-in-chief molly hrudka assistant editor sarah edwards, wilson parker, troy homesley managing editors anna sturkey creative director audrey ann lavallee blog and multimedia
editor

3 4 5 8 9 10 12 13

Gun Control and Culture American Weapons Psychology of Mass Shootings Carolina’s Local Bands Who Needs Feminism? UNC Environmental Affairs Mars Rover and the Economy The Stag Hunt

travis clayton social media director tyler tran photo editor cynthia betubiza, michael dickson, carey hanlin, troy homesley, wilson hood, molly hrudka, audrey ann levallee, jen nowicki, wilson parker, kyle ann marie sebastian, luda shtessel, grace tatter, neha verma, peter vogel, ina kosova, lily clarke, gayatri surendranathan, sarah edwards staff writers janie sircey, paige warmus, katie coleman, sophie bergmann designers tyler tran, renee sullender, janie sircey, katie coleman, caitlin graham, gihani dissanayake photographers wilson hood, anne brenneman, michael dickson, kyle ann sebastian, peter vogel copy editors jeremy hollenbeck treasurer jennifer nowicki public relations director

On the Cover: “No Gun Violence” by Asia Morris

2  • OCTOBER2012

The Case for Stricter Laws

America’s gun violence far outweights that of any developed country in the world.

America prides itself on its freedoms, as it should. But after Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting, the Aurora shooting, and the Sikh Temple shootings... ...when should we ask if one person’s right to easy gun access is triumphing over another’s right to live?

CHART AND GRAPHIC BY CAREY HANLIN DATA FROM CDC, KRUG 1998, WHO 2012

OCTOBER2012  • 3   

VOTER ID LAWS KEEP MILLIONS FROM POLLS
GAYATRI SURENDRANATHAN As the presidential election rounds the corner, many states have been tightening restrictions on voting by requiring voters to present governmentissued identification before stepping inside the voting booth. This contentious legislation appears sensible at first glance — proving that you are who you say you are before participating in democracy’s hallmark process seems only fair. But in actuality, the laws serve to disenfranchise millions of minority voters in the name of preserving the integrity of the Constitution. There are 33 states that require some form of voter identification before voting, though IDs that are deemed acceptable vary from state to state. Of those, 17 states only accept photo IDs and five will turn voters away from the poll if they fail to bring acceptable identification. Mitch Kokai, a policy analyst at the conservative think-tank, John Locke Foundation, said the laws are essential to any functioning democracy. “Voter ID laws are a fairly simple way to suppress election fraud,” he said. “The potential for voter fraud is too great to allow us to move forward without implementing these laws in every state.” And Hans von Spakowsky of the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation said voter ID can prevent “voting under false registrations, double voting by individuals registered in more than one state, and and voting by illegal aliens.” 4  • OCTOBER2012 But a look at the rate of voter fraud everyone. Nearly 500,000 eligible votin America shows that the potential ers don’t have IDs or cars and live 10 is, in fact, slim. The closely-observed miles or more from the nearest state 2004 gubernatorial election in Ohio ID-issuing office, according to a Brenrevealed a voter fraud rate of .00004 nan Center study. percent — data released by the NationAs of now, North Carolina does not al Weather Service shows that require any identification to vote. U.S. Americans are just as likely to get Rep. Brad Miller, D-NC, said his 97-yearstruck and killed by lightning. Jeff old mother would struggle to vote if Shaw, a spokesperson for the NC Jus- North Carolina enacted a voter ID law. tice Center, said that in the case of “She insists on voting so we would voter ID laws, the treatment is harsher have to go to Richmond and get her than the illness. birth certificate from 1914,” he said. “Voter fraud is not a problem in the “It’s something we would do for her, slightest, but there are many problems but many people don’t have that.” that trying to imHe added that the plement ID legispeople who would be Voter ID laws lation creates,” he affected are disproare not only unsaid. “The people portionately demonecessary, they most likely to lack crats. IDs are the elderly, N.C. Governor Bev are dangerous. the poor, students Perdue vetoed a voter and minorities — groups who are tra- ID bill passed by the Republican-conditionally disenfranchised.” trolled state legislature in 2011, but if It is also unlikely coincidental that GOP candidate Pat McCrory wins the these groups tend to vote Democrat. upcoming election the bill will likely A study by the Brennan Institute for resurface and pass. Justice shows that approximately 11 “Pat believes that if people have to percent of Americans don’t have gov- show ID to buy Sudafed, they should ernment identification, and for African have to prove who they are to vote,” Americans the proportion is nearly 25 said McCrory’s press secretary Ricky percent. In several states with strict Diaz. photo laws, student IDs are not acVoter ID laws are not only unnecesceptable. sary, they are dangerous. Women and And though proponents of the laws other minority groups spent much of say they support the concept of a “vot- the 20th century fighting for suffrage, er identification card” that would be and these recent rollbacks of voting procured through a Board of Elections, rights threaten the underpinnings of they balk at the challenges associ- democracy. • ated with providing free voter ID for

GRAPHIC BY JANIE SIRCEY

WHY IS NORTH CAROLINA
LILY CLARKE AND PETER VOGEL In their 2010 book, “Why Nations Fail”, Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James A. Robinson of Harvard provide a framework for understanding the divergence in political and economic life in North Carolina and the rest of the South. They explain that small differences between the institutional makeups of different societies can launch them on different paths, one leading to a vicious cycle of extractive political and economic institutions resulting in poverty and autocracy, the other creating a virtuous cycle where political freedoms beget economic wealth, bringing more development and more freedom. While the difference between the Old North State and the rest of the Confederacy should not be exaggerated, by the end of the Civil War North Carolina differed from the rest of the region in one key respect: its planter class was much weaker, and subsequently, its small farming class was much stronger. According to UNC History professor Henry Watson, Reconstruction brought Republican governments, supported by free blacks and poor whites, to power in North Carolina and across the South after the Civil War. But soon the Tar Heel state began to distinguish itself again. “In 1890 the state diverged [from the rest of the South], the populist movement which was very strong in rural areas, allied with what was left of the republican party and took the state legislature in 1894,” Watson said. “This ‘fusion government’ scared the dickens out of white conservatives, who used violence and intimidation to drive the government from power in 1898.” On face, this action seems almost identical to the pattern established across the South, where the Democratic Party violently seized and maintained control of state politics from 1900 through the 1960s. Yet Watson contends that a difference remained. The Democrats that took office after 1900 were not uniformly conservative.

A SWING STATE?

Looking Back to 2008 and Beyond 2012
The party was divided between segregationist and progressives including Governor Charles Aycock who, along with Josephus Daniels, Charles McIver, Burton Craige and George and Francis Winston, formed the nucleus of a Chapel Hill educated group of progressive reformers, who “wanted to serve poor whites at least” and felt that “if something spilled over and helped poor blacks, that was okay.” This inclusive growth model soon generated the virtuous circle identified by Acemoglu and Robinson: the state started to industrialize, industrialization increased government revenue and public services improved. While North Carolina continued to lag behind the industrial Northeast and Midwest, it out-performed the Deep South, which, according to Watson, was governed by planters, race-baiters and demagogues. This status quo of slow growth in North Carolina, slower growth in the OCTOBER2012  • 5   

Deep South and racial inequity seemed ful change. Thus, North Carolina was stable until the presidential election spared much of the race-related vioyear of 1948 when Democrat Harry Tru- lence that plagued other states in the man decided to appeal to new, urban region. black voters. The Democratic Party split But can any of this history actually badly between liberals who welcomed help explain why President Obama the reforms Truman enacted, such as won in 2008 or why North Carolina is a the desegregation of swing state again in the military and “lost Extremism is not 2012? cause” racists. Strom According to Wilthe way in North liam Frey of the Thurmond’s third party Carolina. candidacy for presiBrookings Institudent on a pro-segregation, the answer is tion platform provides yes. Obama won 35 - Gov. Terry percent of the white a good barometer of Sanford racial tension in the vote in North CaroSouth at that time. lina (outperforming According to the U.S. Elections Atlas, John Kerry). Yet, the story was different Thurmond carried Mississippi, Ala- in the states Strom Thurmond won. bama, South Carolina, and Louisiana Obama recorded only 10 percent of with 87, 79, 71 and 49 percent of the the white vote in Alabama, down from vote, respectively, but won only eight 19 percent for Kerry, and 14 percent in percent in North Carolina, which voted Louisiana, down from 24 percent.   for Truman. While a myriad of factors influence Even when the stakes of racial equal- votes in any given election year, acity increased dramatically in the wake cording to David Bositis, an analyst at of Brown vs. Board of Education, North the Joint Center for Political and EcoCarolina managed to maintain a more nomic Studies, race is the most logimoderate tone on race relations. As cal explanation for voting behavior in Governor Terry Sanford, who served the Deep South in 2008. Thus, North from 1961-1965 declared, “Extremism is Carolina’s long history of relative racial not the North Carolina way.” Again, Watson stressed that the quality of life for African Americans differed across the state, observing that “in 1960 it was almost impossible for blacks to vote in the east but not in the piedmont.” Yet, North Carolina’s experience in the civil rights era remains consistent with Acemoglu and Robinson’s prediction that more inclusive societies will be better equipped to handle political transitions than their more extractive counterparts. Elites in North Carolina had less to lose by enfranchising African Americans than did Deep South planters, and North Carolinian liberals had a stronger base from which to advocate peace-

harmony helped Obama in 2008 and will help him again in 2012. Likewise, North Carolinians may be more receptive to President Obama’s message that the government can and should play a role in helping the country. After decades of world class public education, Watson believes that “North Carolinians grew accustomed to a strong state that could provide social services” These days those services must be varied to suit shifting demographic communities. According to the North Carolina Museum of History, the state’s Asian population increased by more than 125 percent and the Hispanic population by 574 percent  between 1990 and 2004. The Huffington Post notes a recent trend in African Americans migrating back to the South from northern cities. African Americans now represent 22 percent of North Carolina’s total population. These demographic groups tend to vote Democratic. Furthermore, according to M.V. Hood and Seth C. McKee of the University of Illinois, President Obama can expect to be aided by an influx of migrants from the Northeast. Historically, northern migrants have voted Republican, but

PHOTO BY TYLER TRAN

President Barack Obama at his April visit to UNC.

6  • OCTOBER2012

Which way will the state swing this year?

GRAPHIC BY JANIE SIRCEY

according to Hood and McKee, they are in national defense, veterans’ healthnow far more likely to vote for Demo- care and care for military families. Emcrats, a factor that may have proved phasizing civic engagement, criminal decisive in Obama’s 2008 win in North justice disparities, economic sustainCarolina. ability, education equality and healthThe change also represents the care and public safety issues wins the broadening spectrum of issues unique African American vote, while the LGBT voter groups find concerning. The blog community is interested in marriage, WhichWayNC finds the most press- workplace and healthcare equality. The ing concerns of voters vary greatly spectrum continues to grow in seniors’ depending upon interests in social setheir demographics. curity, Medicare and The director of While Latinos want financial security, and to see changes in Public Policy Poll- labor groups find jobs, immigration policy ing found Obama union rights and miniand health promum wage the most leads youth votes pressing issues of the grams, youth voters 62 percent to 30 are most concerned day. with voter rights, Winning North Caropercent. education funding lina votes in the 2012 and social issues. The director of Pub- election requires the presidential canlic Policy Polling found that President didates to convince all or most of the Obama leads youth votes 62 percent demographic groups that their unique to 30 percent. issues will be addressed in the next Women are concerned with health- four years. And while the heterogenecare, but they are more interested in ity of interests in the state suggests it equal economic opportunities and will swing from party to party in the want to see more women as political immediate future, President Obama leaders. Rural voters care about job may have helped win voters over at growth, state infrastructure, the econ- the Democratic National Convention in omy, education and rural leadership. Charlotte, NC. Veterans want to see improvements While the convention frenzy high-

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lighted the president’s staunch supporters, North Carolina represents an area of conflict for the presidential candidate. In May 2012, North Carolina overwhelmingly passed Amendment One, which banned the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In response, President Obama became the first president to publicly announce his support of same-sex marriage. A CNN poll showed trends favoring Obama nationally after the convention ended Thursday, Sept. 13.But only 46 percent of North Carolinians favored Obama after the DNC, according to the New York Times. Dumont Clarke, a Mecklenburg County Commissioner and Charlotte resident,who attended the convention two of the three nights, thought the convention was “well received” and left people feeling “positive about the city and the experience.” Which way will the state swing this year? While most analysts have the state in the “lean Romney” camp, only November’s results will reveal the true impact of the convention and the demographic and historical changes that have wrenched North Carolina from the “Solid South” and placed it squarely in the swing-state category. • OCTOBER2012  • 7   

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO

MEDICAID?
JENNIFER NOWICKI There has been no lack of attention paid to how President Obama and Mitt Romney’s economic plans will affect Medicare. Largely missing from the campaign rhetoric, however, is each candidate’s vision for Medicaid, especially in light of the Supreme Court ruling concerning the Affordable Care Act. This is an issue because 60 million Americans, consisting primarily of 31 million children and low-income individuals, depend on its services for basic health care. The program covers eleven million non-disabled adults, provides the costs for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. births, and cares for over 8.8 million individuals with disabilities and 4.6 million lowincome seniors. The relevance of Medicaid has increased with the disclosure that a record 46.2 million Americans are living below the federal poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. This finding is problematic, especially considering that the poverty line has barely budged over two decades despite rapid inflation, making quality healthcare for the disadvantaged even more difficult to procure. Although the Supreme Court left the ACA largely intact, it invalidated the bill’s original requirement that states expand Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the poverty level or risk losing all federal funding, leaving the decision up to states. Several governors wasted no time in taking advantage of this ruling, with at least seven indicating they will not expand the program due to per8  • OCTOBER2012 sonal beliefs about the federal government’s spending. The substantial federal funding for this Medicaid expansion remains, however, so most states are likely to still comply. At issue is the design of the law, which allows health care tax credits for those above the poverty line, but relies on Medicaid to cover those below it. Most states do not offer Medicaid benefits for everyone below the poverty level, rather, only those below a certain percentage of it, which is as low as 25 percent in some states. The law depends on states accepting federal funding for an expansion — a win-win for all — but over eight million of the country’s poorest will now be caught in a loophole as they will be eligible for neither tax credits nor Medicaid, effectively shutting them out of options for consistent, quality care. As for the presidential candidates, both seem to be mostly ignoring Medicaid, although they have thoroughly vocalized their opinions about the ACA. Obama has expressed his commitment to strengthening the ACA, which will, in turn, support Medicaid. Romney, however, has repeatedly waffled over whether he will maintain parts of the act or completely repeal it, though running-mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has established his desire to do away with it entirely. Regardless of who wins, Medicaid may be in serious jeopardy, and will require more attention than it’s currently getting. •

2010
States receive federal funding to provide Medicaid to low-income families.

2011
Creates community health homes to coordinate low-cost care.

2012
Provides additional funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

2013
Improves access to preventive services in Medicaid.

2014
Low-income individuals can buy insurance through the Affordable Insurance Exchancge

Medicare’s Dilemma
CAREY HANLIN

Medicare Funding:
HI Trust Fund
1. Pays for: Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) 2. The Problem: The HI fund is paid in part by the difference between its income and expenditures, but its expenditures are exceeding income, and rising every year.

Facts and Numbers:
1. Medicare costs began after President George W. Bush introduced Medicare Part D without a plan to pay for its costs . 2. The CBO predicts that Medicare and Medcaid spending could account for as much as 10.0% of GDP by 2035, and even 19.0% of GDP by 2082. 3. All money that either trust fund can’t pay back is added to the US deficit unless taxes or premiums are raised to pay for it. According to the Medicare Trustees, Part D alone has created an estimated $9.4 trillion liability over the next 75 years. 4. With HI fund expenditures constantly rising higher above income, it is estimated that the fund could be insolvent in as little as 4 years.

SMI Trust Fund

1. Pays for: Part B (outpatient coverage) and Part D (drug plan) 2. The Problem: Unlike the HI fund, the SMI fund has its financial needs predicted and met by the federal government every year. But with costs rising, the debt is growing.

The Proposals:

Team Obama:
1. Obama’s health care plan (PPACA) will save more than $716 billion in Medicare costs by reducing how much is paid directly to hospitals and private insurers over the next 10 years. 2. The reductions will not affect beneficiaries at all, and will actually extend Medicare solvency by 8 extra years (to 2024) while covering a great number of Americans. 3. Most probably, congress will reallocate funds to extend Medicare past 2024.

Team Romney:
1. Romney will repeal PPACA, ending the accompanying reductions to Medicare. 2. Medicare will keep paying providers at the same rates, and its solvency will end by 2016. 3. With Medicare costs continuing to rise, the program will be privatized, becoming a voucher system with no guarantee to any senior.
GRAPHIC BY CAREY HANLIN

OCTOBER2012  • 9   

PHOTO BY HAN NGUYEN OF OFA

WOMEN AND LATINO VOTERS KEY IN 2012
KYLE ANN SEBASTIAN

O

nce marginalized and disenfranchised by American society, women and Latinos now comprise vital voting blocks for any presidential candidate. Nationally, Democrats and Republicans are taking notice, and putting considerable effort into winning their support. Despite efforts by the GOP to appeal to these groups, women and Latino voters prefer Democrat candidates. A recent poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News found that President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney among women voters by twelve points; 53% of women polled said that they would vote for Obama. This poll reflects dissatisfaction both with Mitt Romney himself and with the GOP, which has spent the past two years engaged in what many are calling a war on American women. At both the state and federal level, Republican politicians have pursued policies intended to strip women of

their bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states passed a record 80 laws restricting women’s access to abortion in 2011 and followed up with 39 additional laws in 2012. Most efforts to restrict abortion access were led by Republican Governors or Republican-controlled legislatures. At the federal level, anti-woman policies have found support within the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. According to a report prepared for the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House “voted 55 times to undermine women’s health, roll back women’s rights, and defund programs and institutions that provide health care and support for women.” If the last two years fueled women’s fears over what a Republican president could mean for them, this election has confirmed them. The GOP platform is strongly anti-choice, declaring GOP “support [for] a human

life amendment to the Constitution and…legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” The GOP offer no explanation of what a “human life amendment” would look like, but if it resembles Mississippi’s personhood amendment it would grant legal rights to fertilized eggs, effectively outlawing abortion, emergency contraception, and in-vitro fertilization. Despite a history as a moderate governor, Romney has largely fallen in line with the GOP’s conservative social agenda. Romney opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest, and supports overturning Roe v. Wade. Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is more extreme. Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Todd Akin (R-Mo) intended to limit abortion access for survivors of rape and has referred to rape as a “method of conception.” President Obama and the Democratic National Party Platform offer a stark

10  • OCTOBER2012

contrast to the GOP. The platform reaffirms their support for a woman’s right to control her fertility. It stresses the benefits of the Affordable Care Act which include ending gender discrimination in insurance rates, prohibiting the classification of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition, and “provid[ing] women with free access to preventive care including prenatal screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screening, breast-feeding supports, and contraception.” The GOP’s approach to women’s health may deter female voters. Repealing the Affordable Care Act is central to the GOP platform. Republicans have also failed to address how their plan for Medicaid reform would disproportionately affect women, who make up 70% of Medicaid recipients, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. While the Democrats and the Obama administration have unequivocally supported gender equality legislation such as Title IX, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, and pushed for policies such as the Equal Rights Amendment, the Paycheck Fairness Act, paid parental leave, and the ratification of the Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Republicans have been less supportive. Republicans opposed the expansion of the VAWA, and the Romney campaign has avoided questions regarding the Fair Pay Act. Additionally, the GOP does not support the ratification of the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, agreements it considers “ominous.” Obama has also expressed support for gender equality in less explicit ways, appointing a record 72 women as federal judges, with minority wom-

en making up 29 of the appointments. as they are more likely to come from Obama’s most notable appointments low-income families. Additionally, were Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Ka- 57% of Latino voters reject the vouchgan to the Supreme Court. er system Medicare reform proposed The last time a majority of female by the GOP. voters supported a Republican PresiAlthough Obama’s immigration dential candidate was in 1988, with policy has been widely criticized by the election of President George H. W. immigration activists in the Hispanic Bush. As the GOP continues to shift community for deporting a record 1.1 farther right on social issues, it is million people in the past 3 years, likely the trend of women supporting Obama seems to have won back some Democrats will persist. good will after a policy change in June Similarly, an August poll conducted offered two year deportation deferrals by NBC/Wall Street Journal/ Telemun- to individuals under 30 who entered do shows Obama leading Romeny the country illegally as children, have among Hispanic voters by 35 points. no criminal record and are students or While Latinos made up only 9% of serving in the military. eligible voters in 2010, Hispanic voter The Republican position on immigraturnout has been on the rise; if current tion has won them few Latino fans. trends persist, 2012 could be a record The GOP platform strictly opposes election for Hisamnesty, supports panic voters. Those controversial imThe last time a ma- migration legislavotes could prove jority of female vot- tion passed in Aricritical in winning battleground states ers supported a Re- zona and Alabama, like Florida, Nevada, publican presidential opposes in-state New Mexico, Colotuition for undocucandidate was in rado, Virginia and mented students, North Carolina. 1988, with the elec- and seeks to desigEfforts to sway tion of George H. W. nate English as the Latino/a voters official language of Bush. have focused on the United States. the economy and While the imporimmigration. The Romney campaign tance of Latino support is understood argues with limited success that the by both parties, even more important Obama administration’s economic is the actual casting of ballots by Hispolicies have failed the Hispanic com- panic voters. Enthusiasm is down munity, emphasising unemployment among Latino voters, which could bode rates among Hispanics. According to ill for voter participation in November. the NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll, 59% of Republicans aren’t just excited about Hispanic voters approve of Obama’s this possibility—they are counting on handling of the economy. The GOP’s it. At a Christian Science Monitor lunpolicies however, are viewed nega- cheon House Speaker John Boehner tively by low-income Latino voters. said, “They [Latino and African AmeriThe GOP advocates for reducing fed- can voters] may not show up and vote eral financial aid for college student, for our candidate but I’d suggest to which would negatively impact Latino you they won’t show up and vote for students’ access to higher education the president either.” • and their future economic prospects,

OCTOBER2012  • 11   

GUN VIOLENCE
Mass Shootings and the Media The Gun Control Debate American Weapon Sales Psychology of Mass Shootings

IO AT TR US ILL N BY I CA TL IN AH GR AM

12  • OCTOBER2012

MASS SHOOTINGS AND THE MEDIA
Reflections on race, culture, and perception
that, had the shooter been a Muslim, the media would have hinted at his faith for somewhat ingraining in him a culture of violence and terrorism rather than casting him in a positive light. general public is empirically challenging. However, one can be certain that, had a Bangladeshi man ordered baking powder for a cake recipe, the SWAT team would have been at his door in no time. Holmes, however, was able to buy an extraordinary quantity of explosives through regular mail and quietly booby trap his house with them. Neither the neighbors, nor the mailing personnel or the company sending the explosives to a residential home seemed alarmed by his purchase. Double Standards To be sure, the act perpetrated by James Holmes does not appear to be an act of terrorism, if we define terrorism as the “systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.” (Merriam-Webster) However, the 1995 Unpacking White Privilege Oklahoma city bombings, and more reIn her 1989 piece called “White Privicently, the Norway killings by Andrew lege: Unpacking the Invisible KnapBreivik, were terrorist acts committed sack,” Peggy McIntosh writes: “I was by white people though they were taught to see racism only in individual rarely qualified as such. acts of meanness, not in invisible sysThe conversation about terrorism, tems conferring dominance on my though misused in the case of James group.” She provides a list of 50 adHolmes, raises interesting questions. vantages that white people have over Why do we hint at a person’s culture people of other races in everyday lives, as having triggered their violent be- advantages that seem equally ubiquihavior while retous today. Number fusing to concede 21 states: “I am never Had the shooter that white people asked to speak for all been a Muslim, the could be socialthe people of my ramedia would have ized toward viocial group.” lence? The Aurora After a Korean hinted at his faith for shooting reveals student shot dead somewhat ingrainhow the media, 34 students in Viring in him a culture and by extension, ginia Tech in 2009, of violence... the general pubsome in the Korean lic, makes sense of American community events in highly racialized ways. expressed their fear over a possible Assessing the impacts of the me- revenge as a result of the act. Korean dia and its representations on the groups offered their sympathy to the

AUDREY ANN LAVALLEE On July 20, 2012, twelve people died and many were injured when James Holmes attacked a crowd of moviegoers at the premiere of Batman in Aurora, CO. The coverage of the event by the American media distracted the audience from a necessary conversation about race in the United States. Distractions The first distracting trajectory was the conversation about gun control. Only months ahead of the US presidential elections, politicians across the spectrum expressed their opinions on issues of gun ownership. Gun rights cheerleaders, quite unconvincingly, went as far as arguing that the Aurora shooting could have been prevented had other people in the audience been armed.Those statements by right-wing politicians fueled various debates, none of which addressed the real issue at hand: who is using those guns, how and why? The second, and more dangerous distracting trajectory lies in the portrayal of James Holmes himself. Many alternative outlets, were quick to suggest

OCTOBER2012  • 13   

The twisted gun from the United Nations Sculpture Garden.

PHOTO BY HAKAN DAHLSTROM, FOTOPEDIA SWEDEN

14  • OCTOBER2012

families of the victim. The internalization of an individual act by an entire community is something unknown to white people. To put it more bluntly, we have yet to see white groups apologizing for Holmes’ actions. Why would they? Sadly, not everybody in this country has the luxury of finding the connections between an individual act and his larger community to be irrelevant. As underlined by Hugo Schwyzer, a professor of history and gender studies at Pasedena City College, the media plays an important role at connecting an individual’s behavior to a socio-cultural stereotype. In the case of SeungHei Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, “media attention focused on the likelihood that a Korean culture unwilling to acknowledge mental illness helped drive the young man to commit the worst mass murder in U.S. history.” Such negative socio-cultural stereotyping does not exist for whites. The description of Holmes in the news por-

trayed him at best as an outlier from lens to understand acts perpetrated his own racial group, and at worst as by whites. Like others before him, he someone brilliant gone mad. Holmes, notes that most mass murders in the a former “smart” neuroscience PhD United States have been committed by student was a “psychiatric patient,” white middle class males. By arguing described by friends as a “loner” and that “every killer makes his pain anotha recent college er’s problem. But Portrayals of “drop-out.” Those atonly those who’ve tributes do not draw marinated in privishooters who any negative conlege can conclude belong to minority that their private nections between communities are his culture and his pain is the entire act. Quite the conworld’s problem less apologetic, as trary, the articles and with which to if their crime was headlines conveyed deal,” Schwyzer arexpected. a sense of surprise gues that being soat an unexpected act cialized as a white that could only be the result of men- middle-class male cannot be separattal illness. Portrayals of shooters who ed from an individual’s experience and belong to minority communities are thus can trigger violent behaviors, too. less apologetic, as if their crime was This argument, which needs to be expected. appreciated for its attempt at breaking the so-called color blind policy which A white pathology? holds the white race as its default, is Schwyzer goes further and sug- not without its flaws. For one thing, gests possible ways of using the racial it is becoming increasingly difficult

PHOTO BY M. GLASGOW, FLICKR A gun show in Houston, TX.

to treat the white men as an insulat- that allows for such public display of ed group. One cannot ignore the fact violence on the part of white men? that women and other minorities have Scholarly articles on the correlation enjoyed, to some extent, more socio- between white privilege and mass economic opportunities in recent de- shootings are slowly emerging. In cades. Does that mean that white men their article entitled “Suicide by mass are more prone to becoming violent, murder: Masculinity, aggrieved entitleor that the notion of privilege will be a ment, and rampage school shootings” phenomenon across gender and racial Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel lines? point out to the Also, many counfact that it is “only But only those tries have historiwhen white boys who’ve marinated cally favored some began to open fire in privilege can group over others, in their schools did but mass shooting psychologists and conclude that does not seem to their private pain is journalists rush to be an outlet used diagnosis of menthe entire world’s to express anger tal illness.” problem with over disenfranIn addition to chisement. Michael presenting James which to deal. Moore, in an inciHolmes as an outlisive blog entry writer of his group who -Schwyzer could only have ing about the Aurora shooting entitled been afflicted by It’s the Guns – But We All Know, It’s Not mental illness, the media understood Really the Guns, explains how the US how he conducted the act in a racialis “responsible for over 80% of all the ized way. CNN reporters were quick to gun deaths in the 23 richest countries point at how “cold” and “calculated” combined.“ So what is it about the US his action had been. In ‘‘A Perverse

Kind of Sense: Urban Spaces, Ghetto Places and the Discourse of School Shootings,” Abraham P. Deleon addresses those very biases that distinguish between white and black crime. “Whereas the White school shooter is calculating, intelligent and conniving, urban crime is constructed as random, wild and tied to ‘‘ghetto’’issues like gangs, reputation and revenge.” In recent decades, some journalists have advocated for a “color blind” policy when it comes to reporting crimes, unless a suspect’s description is essential for the investigation. This color blind policy is a mere fantasy. We might not be as bold about making black and white distinctions in articles, but the understanding of violence is mediated in various outlets based on racialized understandings and socio-cultural stereotypes which recognize white as the norm. How else can we explain that all communities, except whites, internalize the behaviors of individuals of their groups and reflect on the impact that such actions will have on them? •

OCTOBER2012  • 15   

THE CONTROL
WILSON PARKER

GUN

America’s most contentious issue?
On the evening of July 20, a gunman entered a Colorado theater carrying multiple firearms and murdered 12 innocent moviegoers, leaving 58 others injured. On “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a noted proponent of more stringent gun control laws, called for a reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a prohibition on the sale of assault weapons for civilian use. “Weapons of war don’t belong on the street,” Feinstein said. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, on the other hand, said he wondered why no one in the theater was armed and able to protect themselves. “Well it does make me wonder — you know, with all those people in the theater — was there nobody that was carrying [a firearm] that could’ve stopped this guy more quickly?” Gohmert said on ABC News. It would seem that, even in the wake of a national tragedy, the two sides of the gun control debate are unable to agree on anything. Recent evidence has emerged, however, which suggests just the opposite. A recent poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Lutz on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns found widespread support for several gun control proposals among gun owners, and even among current and former members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the ultra conservative organization known for its aggressive opposition to gun control policies. The poll found that 74 percent of current and former NRA members and 87 percent of other gun owners said they supported implementing a

DEBATE

“Blood on Your Hands” BY TW COLLINS, FLICKR

16  • OCTOBER2012

CHART BY WILSON PARKER

requirement for criminal background that 87 percent of NRA members said checks before purchasing a gun. An they believe that support for the Seceven greater margin of NRA members ond Amendment goes hand-in-hand — 79 percent (80 percent of other gun with keeping guns out of the hands of owners) — said that they’d support a criminals. requirement that gun-retailer employThese findings are at odds with ees pass background checks. conventional wisdom on gun control, A full two-thirds of respondents said which suggests that little political supthat permits to carry concealed weap- port exists for more strict policies. Inons should not be allowed for people deed, in a recent Rasmussen poll, only who have committed violent misde- 41 percent of respondents expressed meanors. 74 percent support for increasing said they supported the strictness of gun Weapons of war control policies. making gun safety don’t belong on training a requireHow can only a ment for receiving a minority of the genthe street. gun license. eral public express 64 percent also support increasing Senator Dianne supported requiring the strictness of gun gun-retailers to recontrol policies, when Feinstein port whenever guns overwhelming maare lost or stolen. This is an important jorities of NRA members support cerreform not just for crime control, but tain additional restrictions? The likely for ensuring that illegal, under-the-ta- result is that most Americans don’t unble gun deals are less likely to occur. derstand how permissive current gun Perhaps most notably, the poll found laws are. Furthermore, they may asso-

ciate increased restrictions with more strict policies, such as an outright ban on carrying concealed weapons. It is extremely unlikely that the general public would oppose the policies mentioned in this poll which received such robust support from NRA members, a group well to the right of public opinion on this issue. This poll challenges the predominant narrative about our gun control debate, which holds that both sides are bitterly divided and that members of the NRA would never countenance any increase in gun control laws whatsoever. It also has serious implications. It means that proponents of gun control should focus on uncontroversial, common sense policies, because these policies may be fairly popular. It also means that there is common ground on this important issue, and that even if we are unable to prevent another Aurora, there are concrete, politically feasible steps that we can take to make another one less likely. • OCTOBER2012  • 17   

DATA FROM FRANK LUNTZ

AND INTERNATIONAL VIOLENCE
TROY C. HOMESLEY

AMERICAN WEAPON SALES

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un violence in the United States has treaty. Unfortunately, no consensus risen dramatically in recent years, could be reached and the U.N. Conferdue to a combination of factors includ- ence on the Arms Trade Treaty concluded ing easy access to small firearms, the with no treaty intact. ‘ripple effect’ in the aftermath of violent The National Rifle Association (NRA) shootings and a common sentiment was extensively involved with the pubthat the Second Amendment is at risk lic relations campaign against the ATT. of invalidation. This rise in gun violence Leading up to the conference, the NRA is not unique to the United States; in published several videos on their site. fact gun violence and violent crime has “What you’ll wind up with is gun control steadily risen inon an international ternationally. level specifically If there is a substanThe international designed to be tial risk that arms community has used against honexported to another attempted to take est, law-abiding country will contribsteps to curb gun people,” claims violence, but reone of the videos. ute to serious hucent attempts Records reveal man rights abuses, have been thwartthat the NRA is those arms supplies ed by individual heavily bankrolled states and superby the weapons must be stopped. powers. The idea industry, which of creating an inhas an estimated - Amnesty ternational Arms annual worth of International Trade Treaty (ATT) $60 billion. Actors has been a point within the NRA of contention within the United Nations have made explicit claims that the ATT since as early as 2003. would limit the ability of Americans to The ATT aims to limit conventional buy handguns and lead to the dismanarms sales around the globe and thus tling of the second amendment. reduce the number of deaths and vioThe Institute for Legislative Action, the lence due to conventional arms access. lobbying arm of the NRA, has voiced Throughout the month of July, countries strong opposition to any possibility of from around the world attempted to find passing the ATT. In fact, for such a treaty common ground on the text of such a to pass, it would require support from a 18  • OCTOBER2012

2011 Bahrain uprising

2/3 majority of the U.S. Senate. Because of U.S. predominance in the arms trade, the ATT would be meaningless without American support. In 2009, the Obama Administration changed the U.S. position on the ATT, a position that previously kept the ATT off the table under the Bush Administration. However, negotiations deteriorated at the U.N. leading to a deadlock that will bring actors back to the drawing board for another conference “in the not-sodistant future” according to the United Nations. International arms trading and conventional weapons sales are heavily driven by the United States. In 2011, the American weapon sales total tripled to

PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

an all-time high of $66 billion. In 2010, this figure sat at a mere $21 million. The United States now provides 79% of the weapons in circulation worldwide. Russia sits at a distant second, with a weapons sales total of only $4.8 billion. These figures are disheartening for activist groups such as Amnesty International. Since the 1990s, Amnesty International and similar groups have attempted to enact a global arms trade treaty to stop the black market in arms sales and limit irresponsible provision of weapons to governments and individuals who intend to use those weapons as a means to carry out human rights abuses, violence, and warfare. “If there is a substantial risk that arms exported to another country will contribute to serious human rights abuses, those arms supplies must be stopped,” Amnesty International argues. As the Syrian conflict escalates and human rights abuses continue to surface on both sides of the conflict, the U.S. is

beginning to wrestle with the need to control arms sales. Iran, who abstained from the original vote regarding an International Arms Trade Treaty, continues to provide illicit weapons to the Assad regime. Simultaneously, the U.S. continues to provide weapons to Saudi Arabia at an alarming rate. In the last year alone, the U.S. sold 84 advanced F-15 fighters to Saudi Arabia amongst a variety of upgrades and munitions packages. Other large sales include weapons provided to gulf states such as the U.A.E. and Oman. As weapons are pumped into Saudi Arabia and the gulf states, many in the Iranian regime and other developing countries are forced to question the true intentions behind a possible arms trade treaty in an arms trade that is almost entirely controlled by U.S. companies and associates. International complications surrounding the ATT were compounded by the fact that Iran was selected to serve as

Demonstration in Samara: US army soldiers secure front gate of a building in Iraq while protestors protesting US miliary presence during Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2003.

the Vice President of U.N. conference on the ATT. The U.S. condemned such action and took issue with the selection as the conference proceeded. The United States has historically set the status quo regarding the use of weapons and the sale of weapons. Because the U.S. controls such a massive portion of the global arms trade, cooperation and activism on the part of U.S. bureaucrats is crucial to the development of a binding and meaningful limit on the sale of global arms. As gun crimes within the United States continue to increase in magnitude and frequency, politicians and citizens are beginning to consider the global ramifications of a culture that promulgates and bolsters the sale of weapons. Recent outbreaks of intense violence in the Middle East towards fellow nationals and American representatives can be traced back to governments that have become militarized using U.S. weapons. The construction of a violent culture is one that requires the existence of violent means, machinery and tools. These means are provided, predominantly, by the United States. When the U.N. convenes once again to discuss an international arms trade treaty, the U.S. will face a challenging dilemma. The U.S. can agree to limit arms sales and enter into a legally binding agreement that would also deter Iran and other opposing forces from providing weapons to violent regimes. This would require a large cutback for the lucrative U.S. weapons industry. Or, the U.S. can choose to passively allow the ATT to fall into disarray and fail to pass due to technical disagreements. This would allow the U.S. to continue provision of weapons worldwide to regimes that may support our interests. This would also condone similar activity by governments worldwide that hope to protect their interests at home and abroad. • OCTOBER2012  • 19   

PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MASS SHOOTINGS
MOLLY HRUDKA

What drives people to kill?

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20  • OCTOBER2012

motionally disturbed. Depressive. A victim of parental abuse. Reclusive. Psychotic. All are terms frequently used to describe perpetrators of mass shootings. For years scientists, doctors and psychiatrists have tried to pinpoint exactly what drives people to commit such heinous crimes. While the media tends to gravitate toward oversimplified, sensational terms, the psychology behind mass shootings may not actually be quite that simple. When news of a mass killing breaks, people are quick to point fingers at mental illness. According to Dr. Carl Bell, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Illinois as well as the president and CEO of the Community Mental Health Council in Chicago, each perpetrator of a violent act has unique motivations. While it is true that mental illness is responsible for many violent

acts, it is certainly not the only factor A number of serious anxiety, mood, involved. People in full control of their psychotic, and personality disorders mental faculties have been driven to have presented themselves in perpetrakill in order to make tors of violent acts. political statements, According to the NaThis means that, to glorify and publitional Alliance on despite some irre- Mental Illness, sericize their personal suicides or to demous mental illnesses futable commononstrate their hatred include depression, alities between and anger toward schizophrenia, bipomany of the most a certain group of lar disorder, obsespeople. sive compulsive disnotorious cases, Even if mental illorder, panic disorder, there is not one ness was at the root post traumatic stress factor that is solely disorder, and borderof every mass killing responsible for episode, the range line personality disof illnesses that order. driving people to have been implicatIn an interview kill. ed is so broad and with the Washington each one so unique that the quest for Post, associate professor of psychiatry the root cause of mass killings would at New York University Michael Welner, not be narrowed. explained that “There has never been a

PHOTO BY PUBLIK16, FLICKR

neuro-anatomical localization of mass shooting behavior.” This means that, despite some irrefutable commonalities between many of the most notorious cases, there is not one factor that is solely responsible for driving people to kill. A study conducted by Dr. Eric Elbogen, forensic psychologist and professor at the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, provides further support for Dr. Welner’s statement. Dr. Elbogen’s study found that the incidence of violence among people with severe mental illness was higher, but only when those people also reported factors like substance abuse, a history of previous physical abuse or violent behavior and recent unsettling life events like unemployment or divorce. However, because many of these other factors tend to present themselves more frequently in people with mental disorders, these people tend to report violence more often. Developing a profile based on a set of risk factors such as these may not be as helpful as it seems. There are all kinds of people who were abused as children, who recently lost jobs, homes or family members who aren’t committing mass murders. This poses a special challenge for identifying people at risk for engaging in violent behavior. “The problem with that is that mass killers do this for multiple reasons, and even when you develop a profile of people at risk, 99 percent of them never go out and do anything bad,” said Dr. Neil S. Kaye, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Thomas Jefferson University, in an interview with the Washington Post. Another challenge to understanding the motivations behind mass killings is that the shooters are often killed themselves- either by police or by com-

mitting suicide. According to Dr. Kaye, in While the manifestations of many such a situation, “all you can really do is of our genes’ interactions are still unwork off their behavior.” known, there is one set of genes that, One famous exception to this is the if you happen to carry them, will make case of the Texas Tower Sniper. In 1966 you four times as likely to commit a viUniversity of Texas olent crime. That set engineering student of genes is carried The problem with Charles Whitman on the Y chromothat is that mass killed 13 people in a some, the chromoshooting rampage some that makes killers do this for from the top the you male. multiple reasons, school’s iconic tower. Obviously just and even when In his suicide note because someone you develop a Whitman requested is male does not an autopsy be permean he will comprofile of people formed because he mit mass shootings. at risk, 99 percent felt as if something This reintroduces of them never go abnormal inside his the question of brain had triggered what exactly shapes out and do anyhis sudden and overour behavior, how thing bad. whelming violent much of it is chemiimpulses. The aucal or genetic and - Dr. Neil S. Kaye how much of it is topsy revealed the presence of a tumor environmental. Our known as a glioblastoma that had behavior stems from the interaction of grown in such a way that it was putting our biology with dozens of environmenpressure on the region of the brain in- tal factors including divorce, physical or volved in regulating emotions, particu- emotional abuse, neglect, the death of larly fear and aggression. a family member and anger. All of these Whitman’s intuition was spot on; environmental factors have the potensomething beyond his control was re- tial to awaken a disorder in someone sponsible for manipulating his emo- who may have a genetic susceptibility tions and actions. While not the sole to it. The media often refers to this as cause, researchers believe that tumors the “trigger” causing the perpetrator to like Whitman’s or other biological ab- “snap.” normalities such as atypical concenBut until more is revealed about trations of chemicals in the brain have what causes people to commit mass strong links to violent behavior. shootings, or until we establish a deThere is another causal factor at play finitive risk profile for perpetrators of here and that is a person’s genetics. Sci- mass killings, we have to continue to entists have shown that susceptibility focus our efforts on responding to such for many mental disorders is heritable, events. By continuing to research how but interactions between genes are of- the interaction between biology and ten difficult to pinpoint. For example, environmental factors affects behavior, the same illness can result from several and particularly how it manifests itself mutations in different genes. Converse- in those who commit mass killings, we ly, the same gene mutations could re- will hopefully be able to prevent these sult in different syndromes. acts from occurring in the future. •

OCTOBER2012  • 21   

Locally Grown: A look inside Carolina’s Growing Local Music Scene
MOLLY HRUDKA AND CAREY HANLIN This semester will be all about making decisions and strengthening connections for UNC’s favorite bluegrass-inspired trio. The three seniors - Jacob Sharp, Joseph Terrell, and Wood Robinson - will be playing in some new places but mostly revisiting places they’ve already been. “You have to make these personal connections,” said Sharp. This ‘music networking’ will be essential if the trio decide to continue playing music together after graduation. Regardless of that final decision, the band is keeping busy this fall. Some of their upcoming shows include a Saturday night headliner at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival and a Nov. 3 gig at Cat’s Cradle. They are also planning to record a new album over winter break. •

PHOTO BY MOLLY HRUDKA

Despite what they may call themselves, the guys of “Virgins” evoke nothing of the classic stereotype. Exuding confidence and energy in every show, this self-described “double drum-kit, bossa-samba, indie jazz intersection” band is among Chapel Hill’s most unique and memorable musical groups. But rather than rely on their uniqueness to garner success, the band has been working tirelessly to spread their name across campus. They recently finished their third week-long bicycle tour, this one spanning four shows and 170 miles, ending in Wilmington. And while their last show this year sold out the Local 506, the band has decided to take a break from playing live to focus on recording their sophomore album, the follow-up to their 2011 release “RGB.” The band expects to release the album in late November or early December. • 22  • OCTOBER2012

PHOTO BY MICHAEL SPICKA

OCTOBER2012  • 23   

PHOTO BY SHANNON KELLY

Since their formation in late 2011, the Morning Brigade has fine-tuned their orchestral folk-rock sound so efficiently that they have already garnered a significant fan base around Chapel Hill. Vance described the band as a continuing musical journey. “We had taken these songs that I had written before the formation of Morning Brigade and transformed them…” Vance said. “The more we played together, the more my writing style was evolving. I had been on my own journey before finding these awesome musicians and people, and now we are continuing the journey together.” You can expect to find Morning Brigade playing anywhere in Chapel Hill, from the pit to the Local 506. •

PHOTO BY MARY KOENIG

Clockwork Kids are a 5-piece rock band who describe their music as coupling the orchestral triple-guitar sonics of bands like Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, and Shearwater but with more introspective lyrics like those of Elbow or R.E.M. According to frontman Justin Ellis, the band name is inspired by the robotic dolls built by 18th-century French watchmaker Pierre Jacquet-Droz, evoking “a mix of dark and the innocent and the mechanic with the organic – which is also an apt description of the band’s sound.” The band’s shows make it obvious that its five members are not only talented musicians, but talented showmen as well. Whether leading with a soothing acoustic guitar from Jeff Deluca or a manic electric from Chris Petto, the band’s deft blend of vastly differing guitar styles is bound to put you on your feet. •

PHOTO BY ALWAYS AUTUMN PHOTOGRAPHY

Between running Resound, UNC’s first and only student-staffed online magazine focused solely on the local music community, playing weekend shows, and recording a new EP, it’s hard to believe singer-songwriter Catie King even has time to take classes. King has been invited to ‘Embracing Identities,” a performance event hosted by the LGBTQ Center as part of Coming Out Week Oct. 8-12. The event is being held to celebrate those who identify as part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Ally (LGBTIQA) community. An openly gay musician, King played in a rally to unite North Carolinians against Amendment One last semester. With a planned release date early next semester, King said the EP will be themed around “Things that keep me awake at night.” •

WHO NEEDS
SARAH EDWARDS

FEMINISM?
The 16 students of Professor Rachel Seidman’s “Women in the Public Sphere” class spent last semester contemplating a simple question: who needs feminism? Or at least, it had the minimalist appearance of a simple question. But questions relating to the nature of feminism are rarely simple. The question began in response to a perceived misunderstanding of feminism among the students’ peers. Students felt that the word was viewed as inflammatory, taboo, or, worst of all, unnecessary in a world that has changed so much since the beginning of the women’s rights movement. In response, the class launched a PR campaign for the word. At first, the campaign was just a simple blog with pictures of Duke students holding up signs that said things like “I need feminism because I’m not just worth 75 cents per dollar” and “Because people still think jokes about raping someone are funny.” But the blog gained traction as more people from different places and backgrounds sent in their own responses. Asking a question like “who needs feminism?” might seem extraneous in academic environments where you can major in Women’s Studies and are supposed to be able to talk openly about feminism. But from the immediate flood of responses, it became clear that the conversation had arrived at exactly the right time. “My sense,” Professor Seidman said, “Is that they have both tapped into and ignited a new level of engagement around the country and world.” But why now? What is it about the ecosystem of today’s colleges that make the topic of feminism more pertinent? Kate Gadsden, a Duke senior and one of the original founders of the project, has an idea. “In the political climate this year there was a clear divide in terms of issues. People are taking a strong stand on women’s issues.” Although the “Who Needs Feminism?” founders have made it clear that the project is not intended to be partisan, the current political climate makes it impossible to leave politics out of the equation. The oft-touted “War on Women” by the Republican Party - a term that came into vogue after attempts last spring to pass a series of laws that would limit women’s access to healthcare and equal pay, among other thingsas well as an onslaught of terrifying media remarks about women from public figures like Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin, have made it impossible to talk about the election without talking about the election’s implications for women. The 2012 election has reignited conversations about feminism and its relevance in both politics and the daily lives of women. It is easy to be on a college campus and feel the tide of cultural discrimination against women (sometimes, just by walking down the street) but to lose sight of regressive political policies that

Pictures of the Who Needs Feminism? Photo Project.

24  • OCTOBER2012

PHOTOS FROM “WHO NEEDS FEMINISM” PROJECT

still discriminate against women outside of the college bubble. The 2012 election, then, has united the cultural and political aspects of feminism. “Who Needs Feminism?” also has implications for contemporary activism and social media. Without social media, a multimedia project like this would look very different: it could be an art exhibit or a traveling scrapbook, perhaps. Propelled by social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, the project was able to attract national and international attention. The lasting power of online social activism is still hotly contested. Although it has a farther reach compared to activism 50 years ago, some critics like author and jouranlist Malcolm Gladwell argue that online activism, often referred to as “slacktivism,” is less

likely to have a lasting impact because it takes less risk than physical actions like marching the streets or boycotting. “I think it is a big risk.” Ivanna Gonzalez, another founder of the project, said. According to Gonzalez and Kate Gadsden, the project has faced constant online harassment. Some participants asked for their pictures to be taken down due to the personal harassment they were facing as a result of having their picture online. As the months passed the curators of the “Who Needs Feminism?” Project began to see a trend: afraid of the consequences of sharing a story (many of those stories related to extremely personal topics, like sexual abuse), people began to hide their face. It takes a huge risk to tell a story. Seidman says that one of the most shocking submissions came from a fe-

male professor who, instead of sending in a picture, submitted a typed explanation of why she needed feminism. As a professor, the letter said, she was forced to toe a tenuous line with her students, afraid to fulfill the stereotype of tough female professor yet not free to be easygoing with her students lest she be termed “soft”. The letter then went on to say that she is unable to show her face because she is not tenured and is afraid of losing her job over such a statement. When word spread about the professor, a tenured professor offered to hold up the sign in the untenured professor’s place. While harassment grimly proves the necessity of the project, “Who Needs Feminism?” is also couched in an overwhelming show of support from men OCTOBER2012  • 25   

and women around the world. Five conversation. months after the original Duke FaceBut the phrasing was uncalculated, book album was posted, the project according to Ivanna Gonzalez. What has expanded beyond a temporary in- does she think would have happened if ternet trend. Perhaps, then, just as the the phrasing was different? “I think this word feminism took on new life when campaign would have gone very differapproached by asking a different ques- ently,” she said. tion, activism can take on new life by Seidman agrees. “We’re not going to accepting social media as both risky say what it means, we are asking what and necessary. it means to you and to open it up and One of the reasons that “Who Needs ask. Our role is not to define the terms Feminism?” is so successful is that it of the debate.” taps into a highly personal and upliftAllowing people to share personal ing perspective reasons for the “why” on contemporary of feminism exposed ...from the imfeminism. Instead common issues that mediate flood of of falling into a people tend to beresponses, it becircle jerk circular lieve are isolated to came clear that conversation that their own experiencthe conversation tries to define es (“I need feminism feminism or asks because I should be had arrived at people to defend able to travel alone exactly the right feminism to idenwithout fear”) and time. tify as a feminist united them. Not with a phrase like only are people able “I am a feminist because” the question to see that other people share their exoffered is: why do I need it? The ques- periences, they are able to see the dition opens up the parameters of the versity of people who need feminism:

26  • OCTOBER2012

the Tumblr features fraternity brothers, military women and parents with their babies. It’s not the typical role call you might see in a Women’s Studies class, and that’s encouraging. It represents the movement of the feminist question from a women’s rights issue to a human right issue. In August, the Omega Phi Beta Sorority brought the photo campaign (and with it, the conversation) to UNC’s campus. Michelle Pujal is one of the leaders of the sorority. When asked about the longevity of an off-shoot campaign, her answer is simple. “I think what I’ve seen with this campaign is a lot of healing.” Projects like “Who Needs Feminism?” don’t just deal strictly with the past. They also open up the door for a whole new wave of feminism. Because the answer to the question posed, of course, is that everyone needs feminism. •

GIHANI DISSANAYAKE

UNC’S ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS FOR THE 2012-2013 YEAR
An Interview with Logan Mauney
MICHAEL DICKSON

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ogan Mauney is a co-chair of the UNCChapel Hill Environmental Affairs Committee, which is a part of the executive branch of UNC-CH Student Government. The EAC works with the university administration and various student groups to foster communication and collaboration and work on projects relating to issues like sustainability, recycling and financial transparency. Last year you helped put together SBP Will Leimenstoll’s platform; how has that and the specific goals and initiatives outlined in it informed your plans for the Environmental Affairs Committee (EAC) this year? Mauney: Well of course we want to address the line items in the platform— those things you can just check off the box—and also we want to channel the spirit of the platform. The environment was integral to Will’s platform, coming from his background. But also, we don’t want it to limit us to certain topics. We just got our committee last week, and one of the biggest things we’re trying to push is that we want this to be their committee, and though we’ve got a long list of things that are already in the works—you know, things leftover from last year, things that we as co-chairs have stumbled into in the first month of school—we want to hear their

ideas, and try to work on those throughout the year too. Can you tell me about how you plan to work with other environmental groups on campus? EcoHarmony was a program started by the Cooper administration to bring all those different groups together; what are you planning to do with that initiative this year? Mauney: EAC, we want to be a hub for environmental affairs on campus. I wasn’t a part of the planning or execution of any of that last year, but I think it’s a great resource; we’re actually trying to grow the usability of it. I think right now it is useful in that it brings together some of the organizations on campus, but I still think there are some that aren’t represented there, and I just want to make it a little more interactive. Right now… it’s a great source of information, but I think we could just take it that next step further so it’s a little more usable. What are you planning on doing with the green round table discussions started last year? Mauney: The whole idea there was just bringing together the leadership of student groups just for us to have a time to meet. I’m hoping bi-weekly, maybe once a month—I think it was a little

more infrequently last year—but just to have a quick time so we can have that familiarity amongst ourselves. Last year I got to go to some of the first meetings; I thought it was a great idea, because one of the things we’ve kind of identified this year is that we have the Office of Waste Reduction and the Sustainability Office, which are the administrative—the long-term—you can think of them as the rock of environmental affairs on campus, but on the student side, things are pretty fragmented. We as student groups aren’t very aware of each other or what’s going on. And I don’t think there’s ever been a time of stepping on toes or doing the same thing, but I think that in terms of accomplishing more, and making more of an impact, we can get a lot more done if we’re really aware of each other, especially recognizing that we’re coming from a lot of different angles. I think in Will’s platform it says something about ‘supporting and collaborating with other student groups on campus,’ and it’s just that central idea that we want to be a hub for communication and collaboration, but the other half of it is that we want to streamline and initiate projects on campus. That could definitely help students more easily find groups to volunteer with that really match OCTOBER2012  • 27   

their interests, too. Another issue on the platform is the lack of transparency regarding UNC’s $2.2 billion endowment fund. What have you and the committee done about that so far? Mauney: I think the date is October 29—we have to confirm that with the administrators—but it’s the Endowment 101 Forum. We had some talks last year with the administrators about having this open place where they could talk about the endowment and what its uses are. Being able to give a spiel on their side, to say, “[this is] the purpose of the endowment; this is how it’s allocated; this is how it’s managed,”—but then to have that opportunity for students to hopefully have some prepared questions, that we could get from those student organizations. Like Students for a Democratic Society had a big voice last year—we talked to them—Sierra Student Coalition, the Student Power Assembly— you know, working with them to have good questions and really get a student voice up there, and then hopefully have a spontaneous Q&A too. We want to make sure that students can get the full information in how the endowment impacts the environment, and also just creating the environment—in a different sense—on campus, of having that openness. So basically trying to work with the administration and just bring everyone involved together to cooperate and get on the same page? Mauney: I think that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We’ve been talking to the executive board of officers under Will about something like an Endowment Transparency Committee that has student representation…That would 28  • OCTOBER2012

be maybe a realistic step towards that divestment. What are some other projects you’re planning to work on this year? Mauney: So we’re going to be working with the dining halls, the Greek system and housing. In housing, dorm composting is something… the sustainability living-learning community sort of had the pilot program I think, but this year it’s going strong, and actually…in Cobb they’ve got composting. But again we’re hoping to set the model, see what sort of success we can have, and then make it an option that all students can have on campus. In Lenoir they’re going to be launching compost right outside Freshens. That was something that we brought up last year just as an idea, something that I was really excited about, and this year we’re going to have the pilot at least. We’re going to be supplying volunteers for that to monitor the compost and hopefully educate people too. Could you tell me some about the Game Day Challenge and what else you might be working on with the Athletics Department? Mauney: It’s another thing that’s coming up—on October 6 I think it’s going to be this year—so it’s one of our big focuses right now. Hopefully it’s going to be a day where we can try some pilot projects. It could be a zero waste game, where we have a lot of volunteers that go through and sort everything into recycling and compost, and then that little bit of trash that would be left over; something like that that we can try one time, and see what the feasibility is of institutionalizing these practices. It could be composting the Blue Zone or the chancellor’s box. If we could

convince the right people that this is something that, one, is really little effort on their part, and two, a big impact, or something that could be a positive PR move, and also just something they should do. We’ve also collected some contacts with the Office of Waste Reduction to do a lot of research on our peer institutions and hopefully compile a report of best practices, and maybe a wish list for things that we could add here at UNC that there’s already a model for at other universities. And hopefully they’ll be watching us too. Do you have any kind of more long-term goals or general themes for the committee to work on? Mauney: One of our big pushes this year is visibility and outreach; we really just want to raise awareness and be like an educating tool. One of our big goals is to change the culture a little bit. So it’s things like tweeting short articles that could be interesting, or little things that students can do on campus, or little reminders. It’s things like working with the administration to institutionalize maybe a little greener curriculum—that was one of the projects last year. You know in the top corners of the Daily Tar Heel there’s a little tiny bit of empty space, but if there was just a little something, “remember to recycle,” or something like that on every page—little things like that. Or maybe in the administration, [these issues], in a more tangible sense, could be part of the chancellor’s platform, or part of the message of UNC. I mean, we’re the flagship university of the UNC system, and with this much influence and this many students, we can really set a good example—I think we have more of a responsibility to be a role model . •

NO ATMS ON
NEHA VERMA

MARS

Why the curiosity rover is worth every penny

T

he successful landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover has been a source of excitement and celebration over the past month. Curiosity’s arrival on Mars was so highly anticipated that NASA’s website crashed on landing day from nearly two billion hits, and the rover now has over one million Twitter followers. However, in the midst of concerns about unemployment rates and the growing national debt, many people are not so thrilled. Instead, they are questioning Curiosity’s $2,500,000,000 dollar price tag. Space exploration is often seen as analogous to tossing money up into the sky. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that the money spent on space research actually helps fuel our economy. “People wonder about throwing money at Mars… no money was spent on Mars,” NASA spokesperson Guy Webster said in a recent statement. “There are no ATMs up there. All the money was spent here on Earth.” According to NASA, building Curiosity has supported roughly 7,000 jobs over the past eight years. In total, US companies from 33 different states helped build the rover. These companies ranged from Honeybee Robotics in New York City to Ocean Optics in Florida, and even included a Chattanooga-based bicycle company. During its two-year mission in space, the rover will continue to provide private-sector jobs here on Earth.

An artist’s conception of the Curiosity rover on Mars.

Furthermore, while $2,500,000,000 sounds like a large sum, it must be put into perspective: the amount spent on the entire Curiosity mission is the same amount that the Department of Defense spends every 36 hours. “To describe (the cost) a different way, we spent a dollar a year per person for eight years,” Patrick Gray, president of UNC’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) said. “That dollar a year built one of the most advanced machines in all history.” Moreover, a price tag cannot be put on the inspiration Curiosity has given to those watching at home. In a time when school systems are trying to figure out how to get students

more interested in science and engineering, sending a spacecraft up to the red planet may do the trick – especially when that spacecraft writes fun, firstperson tweets, such as: “They see me rovin’.” In addition to the support it has lent to our economy, Curiosity is aptly named in that it has inspired people to keep asking questions and looking forward, even during an economic downturn. “It is especially during times of depression or general disappointment that we cannot stop dreaming and pushing forward,” Gray said. “We cannot halt the progress of science and education during short- or medium-term problems or else, we might never get out of them.” • OCTOBER2012  • 29   

PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Russia’s role in the Syrian revolution
INA KOSOVA

THE STAG HUNT
increasingly clear that President Assad Assad’s sanctions-ridden regime is a will not step down, that the rebels will significant market of the Russian econbe forced to wage a war of attrition un- omy. Perhaps most importantly, Syria’s less some form of international military Tartus port is Russia’s only Navy post in action takes place. But the prospect of the Mediterranean. With so much that international action seems slim at the Russia stands to lose, the inability of moment, given Russia’s essential hand- the United Nations to act on the mattying of the U.N. Security Council. The ter of Syria does not stem from Russia’s Obama administration’s attempts at self-interest but rather from an inherent shaming the Russians into abstaining flaw in the U.N.S.C. The veto privilege of from a veto in the U.N.S.C. have failed the five permanent members does not repeatedly. Even a relatively mild reso- recognize the fact that these nations lution that recommended “a Syrian-led are not always willing to subordinate political transition to a democratic, plu- national interests to the needs of the ral political system, in which citizens international community. are equal regardless of their affiliations But, even if Russia chooses to cooperor ethnicities or beliefs” failed to pass ate, even if the United Nations is able on Feb. 4, 2012, doomed by a Russian to act in Syria, the fact of the matter is it veto. Looking at may not elect to go With so much that Russia from the perbeyond humanitarspective of game ian and ideological Russia stands to theory, its actions lose, the inability of support. According appear perfectly justo Miriam Cooke, the United Nationtified. A game often Asian and Middle sto act on the mat- East Studies Proassociated with inter of Syria does ternational affairs is fessor at Duke Unithe Stag Hunt. Five not stem from Rus- versity, the biggest hunters surround deterrent to intersia’s self-interestthe stag; if they conational action in but rather from an operate and shoot Syria is its “geopoinherent flaw in the litical position bethe stag, they have U.N.S.C. a high probability tween Israel, Iraq of eating well for and Turkey. Furtheran extended period of time. However, if more, Syria’s relations with Iran and Heone of the hunter’s chooses to go after a zbollah means intervention might well rabbit instead and defects, he eats well ignite a regional war.” while the stag escapes through the gap It is clear that the Sunni rebels of Syria in collective security. Russia benefits are linked to the Sunni tribes of westif it chooses the rabbit, if it continues ern Iraq, a country where deep divides to support Assad. Its outstanding arms between Sunni and Shi’ite have reignitcontracts with Syria will provide billions ed a deadly sectarianism over the past in revenue; its import relationship with year. President Assad also strategically

O

30  • OCTOBER2012

n March 15, 2011, a small group of men and women marched through the streets of a tiny Syrian town in protest of the government’s brutal treatment of a young boy charged with anti-regime graffiti. In response to the army’s uneven use of force, protests spread throughout the country, Syria joining Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in what would come to be known as the Arab Spring. The Syrian people were entitled to the sentiment of optimism that swelled the rebel ranks; under Assad’s iron-clad fist, they witnessed the peaceful transition of power that took place in Tunisia, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali resigning on Jan. 14, 2011. And, just one month later, on Feb. 11, after 18 days of protests, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt stepped down. The movement’s successful formula was clear: the people rise up, supported by the international community, against decades of oppression, violence and misery, to topple a regime feared by all and abhorred by many. Unfortunately, that formula appears to have an exception. It is now September 2012; the Syrian revolution has degenerated into a brutal civil war, the optimism of those early days transformed into a dark cynicism, the number dead at 21,000. And so, the question the world is asking becomes: what plagues the Syrian Revolution; what stands in its way as it attempts to add to the narrative of a successful Arab Spring? Perhaps the key distinctions that separate Syria from Egypt, from Libya, have less to do with Syria intimately and more to do with factors beyond the rebels’ control. It is becoming

ceded authority of Syria’s towns in the Turkey in terms of arms donations, supnortheast, on the border with Turkey, to ports Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Ughaidy Kurdish forces, only aggravating Turkish as commander of the forces in Aleppo; fears of Kurdish uprisings and terrorist however, those same forces view as attacks. Most importantly, Syria faces their commander Abdel Aziz Salama. the possibility of becoming a proxy war Colonel Ughaidy defected from Assad’s between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Saudi forces and was chosen by a group of Arabia funding the rebels and Iran wealthy elite funding the rebel effort the Alawites, further exacerbating the in Aleppo to head the Tawhid Division, country’s Sunni/Alawite divide. comprised of many of Aleppo’s rebel The Alawites, a forces. However, the Most importantly, tiny sect of Shi’ite Tawhid harbor deep Syria faces the Islam, have ruled mistrust of the Colofor decades over nel, placing their loypossibility of bethe Sunni majority, alty with Salama, a coming a proxy first gaining control local leader with no war between Sau- formal military trainof the military and di Arabia and Iran, ing. It was this interthen of the governSaudi Arabia fund- nal struggle for powment under Hafez al-Assad. It is now ing the rebels and er that doomed the in President Assad’s most recent attempt Iran theAlawites, interest to calculaat taking Aleppo, further Exacerbat- the Tawhid Division tedly aggravate this ing the country’s sectarianism, premarching head-on Sunni/Alawite dicting carnage for into the city despite the Alawites if they Colonel Ughaidy’s divide. are to be left withwarnings, facing out his army’s protection. In fact, Cap- heavy bombardment by Assad’s forces tain Umar, an anomaly as an Alawite and ultimately forced to turn back. and rebel fighter, explains, “This is why As the rebellion has progressed, a the army is killing the people in the new faction has emerged to vie for the streets. They are scared the Sunnis will movement’s ideological control, this massacre us.” time in the form of Islamic extremists. As long as the Alawites cling to Assad’s Despite rebel claims that Al Qaeda and protection, as long as they bolster and other extremist groups have had little defend his rule, Syria lacks the unity and influence over the revolution thus far, resolve displayed in Tunisia and Egypt. the facts on the ground seem to conAnd what’s more, this lack of unity goes tradict these assertions. Doctor Jacques beyond the civilian sector; the Free Syr- Bérès, founder of Doctors Without Borian Army is a myriad of fighting forces, ders, recently returned from a humanilacking any sense of military coherence. tarian mission to Syria’s refugee camps. The village forces led by village seniors, “It’s really something strange to see,” the large platoons led by former loyal- he said. “They [foreign rebels] are diists to the Assad regime, the Islamic- rectly saying that they aren’t interested tinged groups led by religious leaders; in Bashar al-Assad’s fall, but are thinkthey are all fighting Assad while under- ing about how to take power afterward mining each other. This was most re- and set up an Islamic state with Shacently seen in the battle for Aleppo. The riah law to become part of the world international community, specifically emirate.”

Dr. Bérès’s observations in Syria seem especially relevant given the recent protests in Egypt and Syria over a YouTube video defaming the Prophet Muhammad; the protests turned deadly as Egyptians and Libyans scaled the American embassy walls, leaving J. Christopher Stevens, United States Ambassador to Libya, along with three other Americans, dead. These protests drastically undermine the Syrian rebel argument that intervention in Libya justifies intervention in Syria; the United States, though it supported militarily the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and the movement for Libyan democracy, continues to face deadly anti-Americanism where militant Islam is involved. The thought of jihadists on the ground in Syria cannot but deter international military aid. So what is to be done? Will the United States act unilaterally, without U.N. Security Council support, careful to weed out Islamic extremists? This course of action seems unlikely according to Thomas Oatley, Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The Obama administration,” he observed, “is keen to recover legitimacy for U.S. actions in the face of the penchant of the Bush administration for unilateral action.” With no real prospect for international military support, including even U.S. military support, faced with slaughter, will the Syrian people finally give in? This option also seems unlikely, according to Professor Cooke. “The repression of freedoms of all sorts has produced the resoluteness of the people not to give up,” he said. And so, as the death toll rises, the world waits, hoping the rebels muster up some form of coherency, of organized resolve…the United Nations waits, hoping Russia ignores the rabbit and chooses the Stag. •

OCTOBER2012  • 31   

Published with support from: Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Campus Progress works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org
Also paid for in part by student fees.

Campus BluePrint is a non-partisan student publication that aims to provide a forum for open

dialogue on progressive ideals at UNC-Chapel Hill and in the greater community. 32  • OCTOBER2012

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