Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dispatches from a Refugee in the Land of Privilege, Episode 2: Drugs, Welfare, and Other Unrelated Issues

An acquaintance posted this article on facebook with the comment "NICE!" I was immediately enraged, as I still am. This was, of course, backed by the GOP, and opponents cited a similar case in Michigan in which this sort of bill was struck down. I can only pray that the same happens here.

Let's take this apart piece by piece: the welfare applicant would be forced not only to take the drug test but to PAY FOR IT themselves! They claim that the people would be reimbursed, but can we discuss how ridiculous the entire thing is? If you are applying for welfare, disposable income is not really a known universe to you. Therefore, you would not be able to take the test and, as a consequence, to receive assistance. So what we have here is a situation in which the poorest are being doubly punished for being that poor. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is NOT what the welfare program is meant to do.

While I don't think my family was ever on welfare, we did receive food stamps on a number of occasions. If this regulation had been in place them, I know that if my mother had applied, we likely would not have had the cash for her to take the test. She wasn't on drugs, but without the test, no welfare. So she and her family (including 2 kids) would have suffered.

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.
-Avram Noam Chomsky

What this is is yet another example of the over-privileged dictating what happens to the least privileged of all. How is this okay? On what level is this supposed to be right? And there are a lot of people in this misbegotten state who likely support this travesty in the name of "protecting the interests of the taxpayers." What this translates to in normal language is: "further lining the pockets of the already rich by preventing the poor from having anything." WAKE UP! Defending this bill with the "there are drug users abusing the welfare system"card is the exact same as "I won't help the homeless because there are those who want to be where they are" (for my rant on that topic, see this blog post). You are not protecting anything except those who do not need protecting.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fixing Samantha: Beauty, Imperfection, and Cowardice

Seven-year-old Samantha Shaw of South Dakota recently underwent cosmetic surgery to "fix" her ears, which stuck out a bit and one had a small fold. Her mother claims it was to prevent future bullying. There had apparently been comments made in front of the girl by kids and adults about her ears, and her mother decided it would be a good idea to alter the "problem." As cosmetic surgery is rather expensive, the Little Baby Face Foundation covered the cost, and the doctor who performed the surgery was quoted as saying Samantha's surgery was not cosmetic but necessary. (If you go to Little Baby Face, the "deformities" they usually cover are listed, things like cleft palettes, for instance. Not usually ears that stick out.)

Am I the only one who sees a serious problem with all this? Her mother has, by doing this, stated unequivocally to her child that anytime the outside world finds fault with her, she should alter herself in any way possible to "fix" it. This sort of belief system is the basis of eating disorders and women who stay in abusive relationships. The problem is not the girl or her ears. The problem is the bullies.

Why is it that we are so ready to alter the world to suit those who are in the wrong? Samantha Shaw should not be made to feel that she is somehow defective because others find her imperfect. The defect lies in the bullies and ignorance of the people who made her feel this way. Instead of seeking out the surgery, maybe her mother should simply have stood up for her daughter when these comments were made instead of taking the coward's way out. Catering to the ignorant will only make it easier for them to operate. She should have taken the opportunity to teach her that no one is perfect, but everyone is beautiful in some way--even the bullies.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm Pissed, Y'all: A Short Exposition on Ignorance

While waiting on my 19th British novel class today, a few classmates and I were discussing people with poor grammar--the ones with no idea what the difference is between it's and its, your and you're, etc. Another classmate decided to put her two cents in but in an entirely different vein. She began a short rant on her "hickey" boyfriend and his y'all's and yonder's. I proceeded to explain to her that those words and many others are actually descended from Old English, Irish, and Scottish dialects, the literature of which is taught in our department as classic. I also told her that "y'all" is basically the only elegant and efficient way to denote a plural you in English and that she was offensive. She looked shocked, and I walked off. After class, she came up to me and said, "I didn't mean to offend you." I responded, "Then you shouldn't have said it."

First, that isn't an apology. An apology would have been: "I'm sorry I offended you." "I didn't mean to offend" means you actually did mean what you said, but you're incredibly sorry you were overheard. So, just no...Second, when are people going to learn that country and ignorant are two entirely separate things. I am quite country most of the time, but I simply know how to write and speak in a more academic manner. My accent never really disappears, and I wouldn't want it to. But I am sick and tired of my extended i's and odd word choice calling my intelligence into question. For the record, there are just as many ignorant people from northern cities as from the rural south.