Laws vs. Lives

Justin Berryhill wakes up in a panic. For days this has happened ever since the incident. He can’t get away from the nightmare that is his life now. His family killed, and him left to survive without them. Cassadi four,  Kandice two, and there mother were all killed in a car crash in November of 2012. They were driving in South Haven, MI and a car operated by David Johnson crossed the centerline and killed the three but left the father unharmed. David was under the influence of alcohol.

This one example is the main reason the laws need to change.  At the present, it takes three times for a person to drive drunk without receiving the full consequences. The first offense is up to 93 days in jail, six points off your license, plus license suspension, and a fine. On the third offense you reap the full punishment, a year of imprisonment and charged with a felony, license suspension, and a fine. But why give them three chances, why not have the punishments the toughest in the beginning so they won’t do it again. With providing separate charges for each account I feel we are letting them get away with it for two times.

Some say that changing the law won’t solve the problem, people will still drive drunk. Drinking is so common in our society that increasing the laws won’t solve the problem. We either need a bigger police force or stronger security at bars and saloons. Or the possibility of creating cars with built in breathalyzers, and the car won’t start if you don’t pass. I think that all of these are a good idea, but these changes can’t be made instantly and we need to have fast results. For the number of deaths by drunk driving isn’t decreasing. The main question is, “Is the system working?” In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.  That’s 1% of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.

Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of drunk driving disasters. How many people have you come face to face with today, held the door open for a few of them, sat in class next to any of them. Imagine your same day and all these people just gone because someone decided to drive drunk? Or how would you feel if someone was driving drunk and decided to swerve toward your sister or brother. How would you feel then about the laws on drunk driving and giving so many people second chances?  In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 53 minutes. Will you be here in the next 53 minutes?


Already as a freshmen college student I constantly stress over my future debt that I will have to pay off some day. I constantly ask myself, “Is this worth it?” If a student pays for college in all loans at Western Michigan University for four years, like myself, they will owe over 200,000 dollars after interest. There are different ways to pay loans but many college students do the “6 months after you graduate” plan. The thing is, how many students have a full-time job 6 months are they graduate decent enough to pay off their loans as well as any other bills and payments they might have like car payments, electric bills, etc, etc. According to statistics from , one in six students default on their loans and unemployment rate has shot up from 7.1 percent to 12.1 percent.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the cost of college has risen over 42 percent since 2000. . The government, parents, teachers, etc say apply for scholarships, grants, and loans, but there are only so many scholarships out there and even when students do obtain scholarships it only covers a little portion of their cost. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that every cent counts but since the cost of college is over 20,000 for in-state students at a majority of universities such as Western Michigan University, it isn’t exactly easy to obtain that much in scholarships.
Recently, articles have been published about Obama’s new “college scorecard.” Basically what it is, is a tool for students to compare colleges by the various costs, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing, and employment, so that students can get – in President Obama’s words –“the most bang for your educational buck.” Sure it might help them find their best option, and in turn, owe less money, but the cost of college is still the same. Arizona State University is about $22,446 after tuition, books, room and board. San Francisco State University is about $19,430. Everywhere you go, you will still find approximately the same rates.
Another factor I personally think about is where the student actually wants to be. Some students want to travel or get a chance to live somewhere fun and new. Maybe the student wants to live in Florida or California and attend college there but they live in Colorado. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to do so. Out-of-state tuition at Western Michigan University is around 40,000 dollars. Yes, students can gain in-state tuition but that’s after a year of living and working here and going through paper-work and hell and back.
You also have to add in the fact that some students don’t have families that will pay their way through college or don’t have the option of obtaining loans. Some students might only have one option, which is to find the cheapest community college and get a degree there, which isn’t a terrible option at all, but it doesn’t give the student much of a choice. Students really don’t have much of a choice anymore it seems. I feel as though it is only going to continue to get worse if the cost of college continues to rise the way it is, especially if household income does not rise. If household income could rise or the cost of college could fall or stay the same then maybe this problem will go away. But for now, with the continuing rise of the cost of college, one day only the rich will go to the college and the rest will be working at McDonald’s and Burger King.

            What’s more dangerous, texting your best friend while your driving to let him know that your almost to his house or letting your 70 year old grandpa drive you around? The answer is neither, texting while driving makes a drivers reaction time as slow as a 70-year-old person, which isn’t good because you always need to be alert while you are driving.  Texting and driving is an important subject that needs to be controlled better and taken more seriously

            Each year there are about 6,000 deaths related to texting and driving and half a million injuries are cause by it. This is a scary number because I don’t think people know how dangerous it is to be texting and driving. When you look down at your phone your attention is taken away from the road for about 5 seconds, which gives you enough time to travel a football field. In that time there’s is a lot that you could do that makes it dangerous for other drivers on the road. Almost 50 percent of drivers between the age of 18 and 24 are texting while driving.

            One way to control this problem could be to inform kids when they are young about the dangers of texting and driving so they know not to do it. If kids grow up learning something is wrong then they will be more cautious when they are that age and they get the idea of texting while driving. Another way to help prevent this problem is have crash simulations in elementary, middle, and high school so it will scare the kids and they wont want to do it so nothing bad happens to them.

            The percentage of drivers who are using cell phones while driving is only increasing and there needs to be something done to stop it. When so many people are dying and being injured each year that should bring attention to the people to try and stop it. One police officer said, “People know that it is illegal so it is harder to stop them when they are looking out for the police,” Wilburn said.  Another reporter, Lund said, “it is distracted driving that’s the culprit behind crashes, and not technology.” He believes that if we got rid of driving with technology then all other forms of distracting driving will come back like changing or clothes or shaving. An example of something who knows texting and driving is wrong but still does it is Pita from Georgia got pulled over for texting and admitted she was wrong and try’s not to do it because her friend died from it.

            This is not only a problem for the driver doing the texting a driving but also the passengers in the car with them. 48 percent of kids twelve to seventeen said they have been with a driver who was texting and fifteen percent of young drivers have seen there parents texting and driving so that has influenced them greatly. Kids look up to older siblings or parents a lot so if they are always in the car while the other one is texting while driving then that will greatly influence them to want and do that same thing. I hope this problem is brought to more attention by people and there is also a way to prevent less accidents from happening.



Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday?
“Merry Christmas!” I exclaimed to the next costumer that walked into our small town business. My mother gave me a stern look, she had just had a meeting with all the employees about saying Merry Christmas, we were to no longer say it. It was ‘disrespectful’ and ‘intrusive’ I was to say Happy Holidays. I grew up saying Merry Christmas. People have been saying Merry Christmas for the past four hundred years! .
The saying Merry Christmas is believed to come from the Christian churches belief of Jesus being born, with Merry; meaning joy, pleasant, and Christmas; meaning the season in which Jesus was born. To those truly devoted it means just that, but for a majority it has become a saying that wishes joy, happiness, and someone the best, all in two words. As the years have gone by people have come accustomed to the saying ‘Merry Christmas’, not thinking it was causing anyone displeasure. But apparently it was. A few years back the government tried banning the saying Merry Christmas from public schools and public media. What happened to separation of church and state? We are now told to say Happy Holidays. Because by saying Merry Christmas we were forcing Christianity upon others and denying others the right to their own religion. A lot of my friends are of different religions, not one complained or even seemed to care if I said Merry Christmas, to them it simply meant I was wishing them the best in life, they too say Merry Christmas, as does the majority of the United States.
In a way the Government is taking away not only our freedom of speech but freedom of religion. . It’s the overlooked piece of information. The government says it’s to please everyone and make the world more equal. By telling us not to say Merry Christmas in school or in public media it is changing our vocabulary with what is acceptable to say and what’s not. As well as stating that one cannot outwardly show your religion even though the saying Merry Christmas barely screams that you are a Christian.
There is nothing wrong with saying Happy Holidays. Happy Holidays is a more broad statement and can be used more openly without the fear of offending someone near you. It also allows you to cover more holidays that some cultures may celebrate. . Some people who don’t celebrate or strongly disagrees with the idea of Christmas would prefer Happy Holidays. While those who celebrate or like the idea of Christmas prefer Merry Christmas. Then there are those who just don’t care.
If only people wouldn’t take offense with whatever you chose to say, but we live in a society where one thinks their opinion should become law. Making it impossible to come to terms with each other and agree to disagree that both sayings are personal opinions and the government should have never got involved with our freedom of speech.
I personally believe it is no longer a battle between religious people and non-religious people fighting over which saying is more ‘politically correct’. It has become a battle between the people and the government fighting over who has more control. The government likes to test how much people will fight back for rights such as the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the separation of church and state. And to their pleasure many people are uneducated and do not realize the government is slowly taking away our rights and ability to act and think on our own.

Just one week ago at Palmerston North’s Freyberg High School, a 15 year old girl committed suicide due to cyber-bullying. Friends of Stephanie Garrett said that the young girl cried herself to sleep at night because of bullying on the internet. People on social networking sites had been calling Stephanie fat and that forced her to lose self-esteem and feel awful about herself. Before anyone could help Stephanie, it was too late. Unfortunately Stephanie isn’t the only teenager that faces cyber-bullying on a daily basis. According to recent studies, one out of every three teenagers is affected by cyber-bullying each year. Not only does cyber-bullying affect a teenager’s mental state, but it also affects their school performance.

Cyber-bullying has many mental effects on a student including anxiety, fear, depression, and self-esteem issues. As a teenager is being bullied online on social media, where all their friends can see, their self-esteem begins to decrease. This is a result from the bully verbally writing many hurtful things online which leads the victim to eventually believe these things are true. For example, if a girl is constantly being told she is fat and ugly and has no friends, she is going to believe that. When a teenager’s self-esteem decreases, they start to live their life in constant fear that they are going to be judged by others. Fear can eventually emerge into anxiety which can completely take control of a teenager’s mind. When a teen becomes anxious they are constantly living in fear of being attacked by bullies at any moment of the day. Self-esteem decreasing, anxiety, and fear all lead to one last mental effect which is depression. Depression leads a teenager to feel helpless and eventually can cause a person to commit suicide.

Cyber-bullying also has an effect on school performance. Class participation, test scores, and lower grades are just a few of the things that are affected. Class participation is affected because the student is afraid that one comment can lead to them being made fun of later online which will embarrass them even more. When a student is made fun of online by peers, there becomes lots of tension in the classroom environment. Unfortunately this tension in the classroom is left unsolved because the victim of cyber-bullying remains silent due to fear of comments that will be made.

Students can be the bully and the victim in a common cyber-bullying scenario. It is not unusual for a student to be the bully putting things online, but when the victim of the online discussion is a teacher there needs to be something done. Not only does cyber-bullying negatively affect students but when teachers and older individuals get brought in the situation it shows that cyber bullying is on a whole new level. Some argue that when students comment about a teacher or faculty member, good or bad, it is considered freedom of speech. I believe that it doesn’t matter about the age of the victim, if someone is being talked about negatively online, it should be considered cyber-bullying.

With today’s advancement in technology, cyber-bullying has become more and more of an epidemic. It is shocking how one out of every three teenagers has been affected by cyber-bullying, and the rate is constantly increasing. There is no way to possibly eliminate cyber-bullying completely from social media but it is important for teenagers to know the negative effects of it. The best way to reduce the rate of cyber-bullying in today’s world is to convince the students that there are ways to confront someone with their issue without putting them down online.


Casey Norris

            Young teenagers and all women go through life looking at magazines at perfect picture ladies or watch television shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and wonder how did they get so gifted in life to look so beautiful? For those of you have no idea who the Kardashian sisters are, well to sum it up in two words… absolute perfection. Hearing questions like “why can’t I be her?” is upsetting because anyone could be absolute perfection with all the editing they do to models and celebrities.

No wonder we, as ordinary ladies, feel so much pressure to look picture perfect. Yes you see models in magazines or billboards, television, etc. but that is not who they really are. You never get to see what the models look like before all of the make up and editing. Make up artists do wonders to these females faces, and even after all that they still aren’t good enough for the media. After taking a photo shoot the photographer will sit there and edit the pictures so that they look “picture perfect”. They edit every little thing; the company Dove did a very well done campaign to show every step with a model that shows that she looks like an absolute different person coming into the studio compared to the final product.

            I had found someone who is finally realizing that real is better than fake. To hear about all of the girls across the world with low self-esteem because of models, I cant even imagine what it would be like to be an actual model watching them edit and erase your body to make it look perfect. You think just other girls are having issues with themselves because of a perfect models, you’re wrong. Even models go through depression with what they go through to be a model. Majority of them either kill them selves or have drug overdoses from trying to stay skinny. They get stuck in this modeling world and cannot get out. The Debenhams blog shows actual un-airbrushed swimwear models. They finally took a stand to show that people are pretty for whom they are and they don’t need a computer to edit their face, arms, legs, stomach, etc.

You hear all these young teens and young adult girls talking about wanting that perfect model figure or the Barbie doll look. Well you can dream ladies, and let it eat and tear away at your self-esteem but its physically impossible. If you wanted to look like Barbie you would physically not be able to. BBC news magazine shows the dimensions of a Barbie doll body compared to be on a regular humans body. It is literally impossible to look this way. They say you physically would not even be able to stand up because your body frame would be so unbalanced. Now that’s a shame.

Censorship is a common debate in today’s world. It is hard to draw the line between a completely unfettered society and an extremely uptight one. I am here to say that the boundary of censorship has been lightening up and will continue to lighten up as time goes by. More and more things are becoming acceptable in our world today and, with that, the media is changing as well. Each generation, our culture is changing. And, as our surroundings change, we need to, not only accept it, but adjust to it as well. Nothing can compete with the natural forces of change. We cannot put regulations on everything. Excessive censorship rules degrades our freedom that the United States is ultimately built upon. Our freedom of speech and freedom of expression is something that stands pride and true to our American population.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that swearing on TV is okay- sometimes. However, censorship is still put into place. During the day, the use of bad words is, for the most part, prohibited all together. This is because of the obvious reason- children. Children are typically up from around 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. After 9 o’clock at night children should be in bed, sleeping. After 9, sometimes 10, at night is when the more mature television shows come on. They do this on purpose and it all boils down to, well, censorship. However, there are other variables that play a big role in keeping media censored, parents.

If what is being shown on your television is not something that you want your kid being exposed to yet, there is probably an option to just turn your TV off all together. If that is utterly impossible, blocking channels for your youngster can also be a good solution. Families vary in many different ways. So what may not be acceptable for your child to watch may be for his classmate(s). It all is dependent on the family and their own standards of how they want to raise their child. This is the exact reason why censorship cannot be forced. It is different from household to household.

            There’s a constant opposing pressure for more and less censorship. It really comes down to the whole physics of it. Like Isaac Newton once said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. For every person who thinks there should more censorship, there is the same amount of people saying that there should be less censorship. I recognize that there are equal forces in each direction. And I believe that the current level of censorship represents our generation’s balancing point, and as Isaac Newton would say… equilibrium. And though equilibriums can shift, they shift very slowly. The standards that applied to our parent’s generation no longer apply.  Do you know why? Because the equilibrium shifted. It didn’t shift much and it was not all at the same time, but it did change and will continue to change towards less censorship over time. 

Every decade more and more is acceptable to society. So if there is any change that will happen, it will be towards less censorship. Not towards more. Time can only move forward and you want to turn the clock back. Major changes in censorship levels, in EITHER direction, are not acceptable by the forces in our society. The laws of science cannot be denied.