Kiddie Porn, the Harlem Renaissance, the NRA and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Something interesting-nay, exciting-happened this week while I was perusing over the Associated Content op/ed page. I had chosen four articles to spotlight when I noticed an unusual coincidence. Some might call it ironic, but of course that would be a complete abortion of the true definition of the term. No, it was a coincidence that sent a crack of electricity through the air. Every one of the writers I had chosen had a clout index of 1. One of the articles was the very first published here and another was only the second. I hope this exciting coincidence points to something even more thrilling: That new op/ed writers are discovering Associated Content. Although not every article I chose to spotlight is from a new writer, most of these writers are new to Associated Content, and if they keep publishing articles of such high quality we will all benefit.

Look at what Allison Tuttle accomplished with her first published article on Associated Content. Her article on MySpace.Com and how it can be considered a site offering up a certain low-level style of kiddie porn is a must-read for anyone who have kids of their own, or is just simply interested in the dangers inherent on the internet. Yes, there seems to be no end to the attacks on MySpace on this topic, but Allison digs a little deeper and investigates the psychology that drives so many of these young girls to post images of themselves in provocative poses or skimpy clothing or both. What Allison realizes that the writers of most other similar articles don’t is that these sexually-charged photos of high school and middle school students isn’t the problem itself, but rather a symptom of something much larger: low self-esteem and objectification by every aspect of American society.

Many high school students are sadly ignorant of the Harlem Renaissance, and I’m not just talking about white students. Having taught high school English, I can assure you that black students are just as ignorant as whites. But this need not be the case. The one single piece of writing that garnered the most attention from my students-whether white or black-was Native Son, the classic novel by Richard Wright. The writing of African-Americans typically get focused on during the shortest month of the year-Black History Month. My experience tells me that it doesn’t matter what the color of the author is, if it’s a good story all students will follow it. Matthew Lubin’s Harlem Renaissance paints an exhaustively researched and very fascinating history of the literary movement that makes up his title. Lubin is clearly not just well educated in this sadly overlooked part of American literary history, but he also relishes the subject.

Just say yes to Zachary Lawrence’s Just Say No, Abstinence Education and the Problems with Zero-Tolerance Policies. It’s hard to imagine that any one single person, much less an entire country, took Nancy Reagan’s Just-Say-No policy seriously and yet here we are years later attempting to apply the same ridiculous idea to teenage sexuality. Lawrence outlines in exquisite detail how funding abstinence programs at the expense of intelligent sexual education is just another example of how conservatives want to stick their head into the ground and ignore the root cause of every problem while wagging their finger of morality until it’s so weak it limply dangles in the air.

If u cn rd ths, u mst b a txt mssgr. Did you understand that sentence? Then you probably don’t want to read David White’s IMing is Killing the Language. Heck, you may not even be capable of reading it since David makes extensive use of something that you guys may never have heard of: vowels. White takes a look at the latest assault on the English language, text messaging. Following quickly upon the attempt by illiterate rappers to rewrite the dictionary by adding a ‘Z” to wordz to make them plural, David showz how the limited space and time involved in text messaging is leading us toward a future with a severely curtailed alphabet.

Nicholas Katers takes on one of the biggest moral criminals in the history of the United States in his article The National Rifle Association (NRA) as an Untouchable Special Interest. Anyone who still believes that the NRA is fighting to retain the first half of the 2nd Amendment is living in a dream world. The NRA is nothing but a lobby for weapons manufacturers, the same kind of weapons killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read Katers’ article and educated yourself on how the NRA really thinks.

OPINION OF THE WEEK
A couple of years ago I woke up at 5:00 in the morning one day and started to watch TV. As usual there was nothing on. I channel surfed past the F/X network and happened upon an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (For those obsessive Buffy fans who want to know, it was the one where Giles gets turned into a demon and the only one who can understand what he’s saying is Spike.) Like millions of fans before me, I was instantly hooked and became a fan. I have to say right here that I can’t stand Angel; Spike is the ultimate cool vampire. Of course, the Spike/Buffy relationship was not without its controversy and Heather Fowler’s Messages About Sex and Violence in the Buffy/Spike Relationship on Buffy the Vampire Slayer examines this controversy brilliantly. For those not familiar with this story, Spike is a vampire and Buffy is a vampire slayer. That would be bad enough, but toss in the fact that Spike tried to rape Buffy and yet they later become lovers and, well, you can see how this might be a topic for disagreement. I myself disagree with some of what Heather writes, but even on those aspects with which I disagree, I must say Heather makes a convincing argument. This is cultural studies writing at its best. She gives enough background so that those not familiar with the show can follow her, but not so much that obsessive fans will grow tired. Don’t miss this one if you love Buffy, vampires, pop culture or great writing.

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