As someone who has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for nearly 15 years, I have chosen to focus my research into therapeutic drug use regarding this disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5), diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and, the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition. The diagnostic criteria are as follows:
Criterion A: stressor – The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
Witnessing, in person.
Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.
Criterion B: intrusion symptoms – The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s): (one required)
Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive memories. Note: Children older than six may express this symptom in repetitive play.
Traumatic nightmares. Note: Children may have frightening dreams without content related to the trauma(s).
Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) which may occur on a continuum from brief episodes to complete loss of consciousness. Note: Children may reenact the event in play.
Intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders.
Marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma-related stimuli.
Criterion C: avoidance – Persistent effortful avoidance of distressing trauma-related stimuli after the event: (one required)
Criterion H: exclusion- Disturbance is not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.
It is important to note that full diagnosis is not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The prevalence of PTSD, based on the U.S. population, is as follows:
About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year.
About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) (PTSD, 2007).
What causes PTSD? There are biological, genetic, sociological and behavioral factors that are associated with PTSD. I will start first with biological. Because only a percentage of people exposed to traumatic events develop PTSD, it is important to explain the factors that increase the risk for the development of PTSD following trauma exposure. Recent data has implicated biological and familial risk factors for PTSD. For example, recent studies have shown an increased prevalence of PTSD in the adult children of Holocaust survivors, even though these children, as a group, do not report a greater exposure to life-threatening events. At risk family members, such as children, may be more vulnerable to PTSD because they witnessed the extreme suffering of a parent with chronic PTSD rather than because of inherited genes (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2017). It is possible that when combined, the person’s psychological history, the nature of the trauma, and the availability of support post-trauma can cause PTSD symptoms to develop after a traumatic event. However, someone without risk factors who is exposed to a traumatic event also may develop symptoms. The amygdala is part of the limbic system that is involved in the expression of emotion, autonomic reactions, and emotional memory. Dysfunction in the amygdala may produce symptoms of PTSD. I discovered an article on the Health Communities website in relation to PTSD that states:
“Overwhelming trauma can cause changes in brain function that produce symptoms of PTSD: hyperarousal, numbing, sleep disturbance, irritability, intrusive emotions and memories, flashbacks, outbursts, and memory impairment. The body responds to stress and trauma by releasing several stress hormones. When a person is subjected to repeated or severe trauma, the physiological stress response becomes hyperactive and hyperarousal and intrusive symptoms of PTSD develop. There also may be a biological component to numbing and other dissociative symptoms of PTSD. Some studies show that when people who have been exposed to prolonged or repeated trauma are exposed to any stimulus reminiscent of the trauma, the brain releases opiates that can produce emotional non-responsiveness, or numbing, and amnesia. Serotonin depletion may result from repeated exposure to severe stress and trauma, which may be a factor in the development of irritability and violent or angry outbursts in people with PTSD” (PTSD causes, 2017).
PTSD is a prevalent, disabling anxiety disorder that constitutes a major health care burden. Despite intensive research efforts during the past few decades, PTSD remains poorly understood in terms of etiology and shows modest response to current treatment interventions. If the specific genes associated with PTSD risk can be identified, this could provide insight into the cause of PTSD that could lead to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. An article found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website states the following:
“Although recent years have seen an exponential increase in the number of studies examining the influence of candidate genes on PTSD diagnosis and symptomatology, most studies have been characterized by relatively low rates of PTSD, with apparent inconsistencies in gene associations linked to marked differences in methodology” (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2017).
There is evidence to that shows that social support, social cognition, and attachment organization contribute to emotion regulation under conditions of traumatic stress and contribute to risk for PTSD. Individuals that have social bonds may receive or develop a sense of safety, which is necessary to recovery from PTSD. The process of therapy may be considered one type of social bonding (PTSD, 2009).
The National Center for PTSD states that evidence for PTSD pharmacology is strongest for specific selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and fluoxetine (Prozac), and also a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) called venlafaxine (Effexor). At this time, only sertraline and paroxetine are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PTSD (PTSD: National Center for PTSD, 2007). As also noted by The National Center for PTSD:
“The risks of taking SSRIs and SNRIs are mild to moderate side effects such as upset stomach, sweating, headache, and dizziness. Some people have sexual side effects, such as decreased desire to have sex or difficulty having an orgasm. Some side effects are short-term, though others may last as long as you are taking the medication” (PTSD, 2009).
“The 2017 VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for PTSD suggests other antidepressants for PTSD treatment if the four strongly recommended medications are ineffective, unavailable, or not tolerated by the individual. These medications are the serotonin potentiator, nefazodone (Serzone); the tricyclic antidepressant, imipramine (Tofranil); and the mono-amine oxidase inhibitor, phenelzine (Nardil). Both nefazodone and phenelzine require careful management as they carry potentially serious toxicities” (PTSD, 2007).
The 2017 VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for PTSD recommends trauma-focused psychotherapy as the first-line treatment for PTSD over pharmacotherapy. For patients who prefer pharmacotherapy or who do not have access to psychotherapy, medications remain a treatment option. PTSD also carries high levels of psychiatric co-morbidities which may be treated with medications. Even though every case of PTSD has different biological, psychological, and social factors with different treatment options, there are empirically supported treatments that can reduce symptoms. Most studies show that cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) such as Prolonged Exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have greater effects on relieving PTSD symptoms than medications, but many unanswered questions remain when it comes to the role of pharmacotherapy (PTSD, 2007).
In conclusion, as a combat Veteran who has dealt with PTSD for nearly 15 years, my experience is that a combination of the right medication and trauma-focused psychotherapy, specifically CBT and CPT, has been the best option for me. The medication assists me with being able to have less nightmares, anxiety, and depression, and the therapy has taught me valuable coping skills which the medication cannot cure. Although I dislike having to take medication daily, I have discovered that not doing so actually hampers my ability to think clearly and to utilize the coping skills I have learned in therapy.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders,
(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2017, from
This analysis explores the frontier between Native Americans and Europeans through a gradual progression in historical scholarship. Within this literature, two dominant themes have emerged: portrayal and contact. For portrayal, a chronological examination includes arguments portraying Indians as savages and obstacles of civilization to portrayal of Indians who exhibited opposition and resistance towards white transgression. In terms of contact, scholarly arguments begin with Columbus and continue through federal Indian removal policy. The two themes combined make shifts in understanding the frontier as a separation of savagery and civilization to an understanding of a frontier as a collapsing repercussion of extinction and domination. In short, there is no stagnant, singular, or frozen depiction of the frontier.
Historiography of the American Frontier
The Frontier between Indians and Europeans
For scholars of Indian-European relations, much of their analysis is dependent upon exploring the theme of contact, in particular its impact on the frontier. Upon the arrival of Europeans on American land, the existence of a frontier is explicit: dividing the Europeans and Indians into two separate entities. Within this arena, multiple forms of contact have emerged, including mutually beneficial alliances, relationships, networks and common grounds. In contrast, the frontier also resulted in the annihilation of many Indians and brought numerous, pervasive disruption to zones of contact. In an attempt to understand this interaction, a series of critical questions have framed this scholarship including how the frontier evolved from a division to the extinction of a species, what the frontier looked like, what it caused, and how historians develop the overarching concept of the frontier.
Because the history of Native Americans has addressed multiple themes, regions, individuals, tribes and time periods, an attempt to define the frontier has produced contentious debates among historians and scholars to reach a conclusive definition of the frontier. However, attempting to link two broad themes; portrayal and contact, suggests a new way of understanding the frontier. Perhaps most importantly, understanding the basis of the frontier begins with examining how historians have portrayed Native Americans. Within this literature, portrayals begin with traditionalist scholars who cast Indians as savages and obstacles of white civilization moving to revisionists who see Indians as victims of white transgression. A third interpretation adds to the portrayal scholarship by recognizing their resistance to European brutality. The other way to view the frontier is the use of contact between Indians and Europeans, highlighted by several topics: Columbus’ landfall, the “Middle Ground,” federal Indian removal policy, and King Philips’ War. Within these scholarships of portrayal and contact, the historiography of Native Americans from a frontier lens is revealed.
Portrayal of Native Americans
The “savagery” interpretation was the first to dominate historical discussion. One of the earliest scholars to portray the Indians, Frederickson Jackson Turner vilifies the Indians as mere savages, depicting them as obstacles to civilization and white settlement in The Significance of the Frontier in American History. In addition to his biased portrayal of the Natives, Turner also illustrates the frontier as an assembly that divides savagery and civilization. This frontier also endangered primitive Indians and threatened their extermination. In a similar manner to Turner, Francis Parkman portrays the Indian from his distinction of Natives “savagery” and settler “civilization” in The Oregon Trail. Furthermore, Parkman demeans the Indians by describing them as ignorant, “diffident and bashful,” as people whose “soul is dormant.” These critical portrayal of Indians and the reiteration of Turner’s thesis forms the orthodox thought on the Indian-European frontier: a division between savagery and civilization.
A revisionist against the savagery school, Vine Deloria presents the Indians as victims in Custer Died for Your Sins. He cites dissolution policies, insufficient government agencies, failed treaties in addition to derogatory Indian stereotypes such as “savages” and “pagans” and a “subcategory of the blacks” as components to victimization upon the Indians (Roemer and Deloria). Echoing Deloria, Dee Brown presents the victimization school through Burn My Heart at Wounded Knee. In particular, Brown emphasizes false promises and broken treaties made to the Indians and further accounts thirty years of white avarice, massacre and outrage towards the Indians in order to attain land and gold. Brown concludes his portrayal of the Native Americans by depicting the remnants of a once noble race transformed into prisoners of war. Within the same school of interpretation, Robert Berkhofer’s The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present adds to the victimization of the Native Americans by tracing the progression of European’s portrayal of the Indians. Berkhofer argues that the initial problem was rooted from Europeans’ bigotry and ethnocentrism behavior when attempting to understand Native cultures, language, temperament, and physical appearance. The striking contrast when juxtaposing Natives and Europeans’ differences led to justifying the Europeans’ trivial view of the Indians as deficient people, in addition to claiming the Natives as inferior in terms of physique, economy and culture. Building on his own work, Berkhofer divides White’s images of Indians into three categories. One image was a good Indian, symbolizing the noble savage idea. The second image contradicts the first; portraying Indians as plain savages and red devils who were meant to be feared and hated. The third image slanders and degrades the Indians into mere remnants of a once noble race, mirroring Brown’s work. These images froze the depiction of Native Americans in historical suspension with little improvement on the Indian image. Within the focus of Indian maltreatment and white oppression framework, this literature sees the frontier as a clear division between victimization and exploitation (Nichols and Berkhofer).
A third school of interpretation that transcends the victim school of thought by including resistance in the portrayal is Angie Debo’s Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place. The main character Geronimo, was a leader of the Apache tribe who spread terror throughout Arizona and New Mexico because he was well-known for perpetrated murders and depredations. During the implementation of a concentration policy that drove away the Apache bands from their land, Geronimo exhibited fierce resistance and retaliation against the violation of guarantees of personal settlement. His responses were used by Debo to crucially implicate that the Natives did not weaken under Europeans’ abuse, and instead demonstrated opposition and resistance. This third interpretation subsequently portrays the frontier as a division between resistance and exploitation.
Indian and European Contact
Other Native American historical scholarships focus on contact when addressing the frontier, in particular, the involvement, relationships, and consequences in terms of contact. These interpretations of the frontier center around specific topics: Europeans’ arrival, cooperation in building an integrated American society, the “Middle Ground,” federal Indian removal policy and King Philips’ War. For example, James Merrell looks at the repercussion Indians faced from Columbus’ landfall and subsequent Europeans by dividing Native American history into two reigning paradigms: before and after European contact. The distinguished timeline provides a clear discern of both the development and abolishment of Indian civilization. Prior to contact, Merrell argues the American landscape was a flourishing land with a growing population whose societies and cultures rivaled Europe. Furthermore, Native Americans established multiple, large-scale trade networks with different tribes residing across vast regions. Merrell affirms that civilization was already in progress even before the arrival of Columbus. However, subsequent contact with Columbus and the rest of the foreign powers disrupted Indian society and its existing civilization. According to Merrell, colonial encroachment led to increased diseases, land seizures, thinning of resources, regional warfare, suppressed religion and disrupted food ways, as well as considerable dislocation- all significant forces reducing these dynamic societies. As a result, the remnant groups coalesced into the larger Indian tribes in order to ensure physical and ethnic survival against European transgression. Merrell’s focus on the catastrophe brought upon the Indians becomes the fundamental shift that served to split the history of these groups into distinct periods. This forces the scholarship to confront an illustration of the frontier depicting a line between disruption and domination (Merrell). Consequently, this perspective signifies the transparent turmoil brought upon Natives and also establishes the existence of a civilized society before 1942 when Europeans emerged and dominated the New World.
Using Indian-European contact as a primary method of depicting the frontier, yet presenting a more optimistic perspective compared to Merrell, Colin Calloway’s New Worlds for All synthesizes the Indian-white relationship by demonstrating cooperation and mutual influence between the conqueror and the conquered. The relationship between Indians and Europeans presents sensitivity to the power relation that mediated cultural exchange. For example, Calloway recognizes a reciprocated cooperation between both Indians and Europeans, and interchangeable dominance over land that depended upon time, place, and the overlapping interests of the natives and colonists. Notably, Calloway avoids a bias that most historians present colonists as those possessing the omnipotent force of inevitability as they invaded America and Indians as those struggling to be a part of American civilization. As a result, he blurs the frontier boundaries standing in between the two parties, but instead presents a fair and matured engagement occurring between Indians and Europeans. For Calloway, this is a frontier where there is no disunion or hostility, but only active players shaping American landscapes, trade relationships, diplomacy, medical practices, warfare, food ways, and the history of ideas.
In more recent years, a new interpretation of Indian-white relations emerged to illustrate the establishment of a common ground between the two societies. This concept of a common ground differs from the traditional groundwork that argues relentless hostility between Indians and Europeans, and instead presents a “Middle Ground” where both cooperation and conflict exist to shape relations between societies. In The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republic in the Great Lake Regions, 1650-1815, Richard White explains the intent of this common ground was to bridge significant cultural differences without resorting to warfare, and it necessitates a complete elimination of military domination and extraction. Moreover, White illustrates the middle ground as a trade zone where economic goods were a shared culture that bonded Natives and Europeans. Although trade was built on economic reasons, White depicts the middle ground as a paternalistic, brotherly, and spiritual zone. This is illustrated through the dynamic engagement in operating a middle ground together, especially reflected on the salutary relationship between Indians and the French. Within White’s concept of the middle ground, he importantly distinguishes multiple interactions, not all of which were positive. For White, the British did not adapt as well as the French, and the Americans dismissed the idea of a middle ground because they were convinced that the Indians were too exotic. Americans, according to White, rejected Indians as part of American civilization, which explains the lack of mutual and cooperative interaction with the Indians. A more temperate interpretation, but one that reached generally the same conclusion emerged in Daniel Usner’s Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783. Usner expands White’s middle ground concept by including Africans people into this important, cross-cultural interaction space. Looking at colonial Louisiana, Usner uncovers a multicultural frontier society of whites, blacks, and Indians. This coexistence created extensive trade networks, racially distinct cultures which resisted and accommodated imposing imperial orders. Usner sees the middle ground not only as an interaction and engagement ground between the groups to ensure survival, but also states the importance of maintaining a civilized sphere for the three to coexist. Usner, in a more recent work, The Frontier Exchange Economy of the Lower Mississippi Valley in the Eighteenth Century further discusses the network of cross-cultural interaction, in which natives and colonial groups circulated goods and services with each other. In this analysis, Usner describes the three races’ contribution to the society: slaves worked on agriculture, and as boatmen, soldiers, interpreters, and hunters. Indians produced animal skins for an export economy, traded food and livestock with other residents, and provided military services. Europeans engaged in entrepreneurial and agricultural enterprises. With each society holding different responsibilities in economy engagement; mutual reliance among each other is evident in order to progress economically and to exchange goods and services to meet each economic demand. Because the concept of the middle ground has proven to be an effective lens for understanding this history, scholars have continued to develop and expand this perspective over the years. In particular, Jay Gitlin, in On the Boundaries of Empire: Connecting West to its Imperial Past examines the middle ground as an interaction point that identifies the group that bore greater power between Natives and colonists. When one had the upper hand, or a more prominent power than the other, it signified the role of the empire in manipulating political, economic and social structures. Similar to White, Gitlin argues that the French were more open-minded and tolerant in adopting a middle ground and also outwitted the British when it came to Native contact. As a result of this new emphasis of the middle ground, multiple and dynamic cultural points of interaction were fostered for mutual benefit. The frontier- as means of understanding this period, has evolved into a well-defined space where both conflicts and cooperation shaped the societies in terms of competing or converging interest (Birzer).
From Merrell’s earlier book, Indians New World that discusses the circumstances Native Americans endured before and after contact. He takes a different approach from his previous study by analyzing denizens involved in frontier matters and the occurrence on the frontier. Merrell’s Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier argues a different kind of frontier encounter from the ones previous scholars have envisioned. Most importantly, and in contrast to the argument contributed by White, Usner, and Gitlin, he insists that there is no middle ground. Instead, for Merrell, the frontier was a ground inhabited by middlemen and liaisons, and was a territory to mitigate Indian-white interactions that often incite violence. As an example of this, Merrell cites the Irish fur trader George Croghan, French-Iroquois Andrew Montour, German immigrant Conrad Weiser, Oneida Montour, and Moravian missionary Christian Frederick Post all of whom downplayed differences and made up areas of common interest, common experience, and similar ideologies to settle disputes between Indians and Europeans. Merrell explains how vital these frontiersmen served the purpose of diplomacy to exist between the frontier as the Indians and Europeans could barely contain their rages against each other. The need for diplomacy, even with the adoption of common practices, protocols, personal styles, and sharing of food between Indians and Europeans was substantial as Merrell argues that no amount of borrowing and cross-cultural relations closed the distance between the colonist and the Indian. Within Merrell’s interpretation, a new impression of the frontier exists with denizens who inhabited the region to play the role of negotiators (Cayton).
While previous interpretation sees cooperation, and most importantly, mutual reliance among both white and Indians, a different interpretation looks at a more tragic period of time. Exploring the atrocious consequence of Indian-white relations, this perspective is defined by the focus on Thomas Jefferson’s administration that created foreign policies that accelerated Indian disappearance, as indicated in Bernard Sheehan’s The Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian. Sheehan analyses how whites promoted governmental dealings and policies to civilize the Indians. The process and methods of civilization, important for Sheehan’s assessment, incorporated deceit and manipulation, yet exhibited an optimistic but unrealistic desire to evolve the Indian to a white man. This “philanthropic” ideal certainly deviated away from its initial objective, as the civilizing process led to a swift-moving frontier pressing the Indians to relinquish their land. Not only that, Sheehan contends the philanthropists had weakened tribal organizations and lowered the Indians’ self-esteem in the attempt to “make the Indians more like the white man.” But the Jeffersonian philanthropists began to recognize the great threat Indians pose as they approach a richer civilization; the fear of a growing and menacing Indian power. This resulted in a public adoption of the Indian removal policy, in attempt to isolate them from white settlement. Sheehan brings a powerful statement, mentioning that the white’s sympathy proved to be more deadly than his animosity, highlighting the plain irony in the philanthropists’ intent to assimilate Indians into white civilization: the disappearance of an entire race. As a result, Sheehan provides a clear representation of an obliterated frontier; with the Indians extinction and the white’s domination.
Following a similar pursuit as Sheehan who describes the frontier as a deteriorated region as a result of Indian extinction, Jill Lepore illustrates the Great Narragansett War, which brought similar repercussions to Indian society and also brought devastation to the colonists. The war began with the betrayal of a converted Massachuseuk that led to his murder by King Philip (Pokunoket Chief Metacom) and his men. Massachuseuk, loyal to the English, had informed them of King Philip’s plan of attack on the colonies. King Philip grew furious over the deception and ignited a war. The war grew considerably, influencing other Indians across the land, inciting the smaller Native American tribes to take part in the war against English colonists. The war ended with King Philip’s decapitation and consequently caused the remaining Indians to be sold into slavery or face death, leading to near extinction of the Native Indians. As a result, Lepore considers King Philips’ War the costliest war in American history for Native Americans because the massacre intensified their severe decline in population. This crucial historical event not only saw a swift obliteration of any existing forms of frontier due to the fallen indigenous race, but it also depicts the devastating annihilation of New England colonies. Lands and towns were destroyed, thousands were killed during the deadly fight, and thousands more died from cold, starvation, diseases. The frontier, as a result of this depressing war, inevitably was eradicated: one side saw a complete massacre of its population, and the other faced a ruined society (Lepore).
From the writings of Native American history, scholars have provided clear implications from their interpretations of portrayal and contact. In terms of portrayal, it is evident how historians characterize both Indians and Europeans, yielding a basis in understanding the frontier. In terms of illustrating the frontier through contact, the central focus on involvement, implication and consequence have resulted in altering the frontier interpretation. In conclusion, the frontier exhibits an eloquent historiography of its own; from a zone that divides ferocity and civilization, then to a frontier that divided conquest against victimization and resistance, subsequently to an arena of cooperation and converging interest to eventually face the inevitable collapse of the frontier as a result of a great war and detrimental policies. This historiography presents a volatile yet dynamic depiction of the frontier. In time, historical scholarship develops a liberal change; giving equal justice to both Indians and Europeans to write their history, taking account both sides of the story without an overly bias. However much the colonists possessed literal advantage and the ability to twist the indigenous people’s version of the story during the early historical writing period, it would have never survived the trials of time. History inevitably will find itself being manipulated and rewritten, changed accordingly to present condition.
Calloway, Colin. New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America. The John Hopkins University Press. 1997.
Cayton, Andrew R. L. “Finding Ourselves in Dark and Bitter Woods.” Reviews in American History, vol. 27, no. 4, 1999, pp. 519–525. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30031098.
Debo, Angie. Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place. University of Oklahoma, 1976.
Lepore, Jill. The Name of War. Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 2009.
Merrell, James. “The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbours from European Contact through Era of Removal.” University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
Nichols, Roger L., and Robert F. Berkhofer. “Pacific Historical Review.” Pacific Historical Review, vol. 49, no. 1, 1980, pp. 134–135. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3639308.
Parkman, Francis. The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life. University of Wisconsin Press, 1849.
Roemer, Kenneth M., and Vine Deloria. “American Quarterly.” American Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 2, 1970, pp. 273–273. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2712102.
Sheehan, Bernard. The Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian. University of North Carolina, 1973.
Turner, Frederickson. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” American Historical Association, 1894, http://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha- history-and-archives/historical-archives/the-significance-of-the-frontier-in-american- history. Accessed 11 November 2017.
Intertwined Movements: An Analysis of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the Greater 60s Culture of Protest
In the early morning of June 28th, 1969, police descended upon the Stonewall Inn of New York City’s Greenwich Village, unexpectedly inciting a nonlethal violent response from its predominantly LGBT patrons. The police raid was not a one-time event – police had been raiding gay bars in the surrounding neighborhood for years prior, citing local liquor licensing laws as their motivation.1 Inspired by the momentum that other liberation movements and political protests of the 60s were gaining, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided on impulse that enough was enough.2 In an uncharacteristic act of violent protest, the LGBT community of New York City rioted against the police over a period of multiple days. From the perspective of outsiders at the time, the riots seemed like nothing more than an immature, drunken backlash started by a bunch of rowdy queens. However, the riots were fueled by the LGBT community’s deep-seated resentment against the many ways in which mainstream heterosexual society oppressed them.3 From that night forward, the number of people involved in gay rights organizations increased exponentially, and gay activists began to take a more assertive approach than before.4 Aiming to form solidarity with all of America’s downtrodden, post-Stonewall gay rights organizations also sought out alliances with other liberation movements and political protestors, including some more controversial groups such as communists and the Black Panthers.5 Though the Stonewall Riots were the spark that kickstarted the gay liberation
movement of the late 1960s through mid-1980s, the movement would have never gained the momentum it did, were it not for the inspiration it received from other liberation movements and political protests of the 1960s.
In the early 1960s, the gay bars of New York City’s Greenwich Village were subject to discriminatory liquor licensing laws and disproportionate harassment by law enforcement. According to New York’s State Liquor Authority, bars that served alcohol to gay people were classified as “disorderly houses,” and were thus effectively barred from obtaining licenses to sell liquor.6 Gay bars that slipped through the cracks and obtained licenses despite the restrictions often had their licenses revoked due to “indecent conduct,” or were frequently raided by police.7 As a result of police harassment, over 1,000 arrests were made in the early 1960s in New York on the basis of “solicitation of a male partner,” and around 250 arrests were made on the basis of “sodomy” – defined as oral or anal sex.8 Though around 40 to 70 of those sodomy arrests involved offenses against minors, the majority of arrests were made on the basis of sexual relations between consenting adults.9
To establish a legal basis for their raids, local law enforcement frequently sent plainclothes officers to gay bars in search of evidence of illegal activity.10 In response, some gay bars adopted elaborate systems to defend themselves from secret agents. For example, the Heights Supper Club “had a signal-light system that warned the boys to stop dancing with one another” when a visitor was suspected of being an undercover policeman. Indeed, “dancing without a cabaret license” was amongst the many excuses that undercover police used to justify raiding gay bars – along with “loud jukeboxes” and “insufficient lighting”.11 The Stonewall Inn
made use of a much simpler deterrent measure, posing as a private “bottle club,” in which visitors brought their own liquor bottles in beforehand and drank it later. Legally speaking, this allowed Stonewall to serve alcohol without a liquor license – though the bar also sold alcohol directly to customers by labeling its own bottles with random names to fool the police.12 Additionally, visitors would sign their name at the door, indicating their membership. Most visitors listed themselves by pseudonyms to protect their privacy.13
The Stonewall Inn’s public image as a private bottle club was not enough to defend the bar on its own. In fact, the real key to the Inn’s self-defense was the fact that it was run by the Mafia. Tony Lauria, a member of the prominent Genovese crime family, found a business opportunity in running gay bars in Greenwich Village when no one else could safely do so. Lauria, otherwise known as “Fat Tony,” purchased the Inn from its previous owners with the intention of converting it into a gay bar in 1966 – and thus, the Inn had been under Mafia control for the entirety of its existence as a gay bar.14 This is not to say that Lauria was “protective” of New York’s gay community – in fact, the Mafia blackmailed patrons of the Stonewall Inn, threatening to “out” them if they did not give them money. Furthermore, the Mafia engaged in shady business practices such as watering down the liquor and selling it at top-shelf prices.15 Nevertheless, the Inn would have come under far greater fire from the police had Lauria not regularly bribed the local precinct with upwards of $1,200 to stay away.16 Thus, the gay community of New York City was simultaneously indebted to and exploited by the Mafia.
Gay activism existed before the Stonewall Riots – however, the “gay liberation movement” of the late 1960s through mid-1980s was not yet mainstream. Rather, gay rights activist organizations in the early 1960s collectively represented the “homophile movement” – a superficially similar movement that nevertheless had a different modus operandi and a radically
different set of values and objectives. At the time, the word “gay” was not universally understood to mean “homosexual” in the United States. Indeed, a 1963 New York Times article on homosexuality in New York City had to explain to readers that the term “gay” was a slang term that homosexuals used to refer to themselves.17 The term “homosexual”, as popularized by the psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, was the most widely used term for gay people at the time, especially amongst psychiatrists who claimed that homosexuality was a mental illness. Thus, “gay” was not in the title of the homophile movement.
The Homophile Movement, though politically moderate by today’s standards, represented the first collective, organized push for gay rights. The core mission of the homophile movement was to organize public demonstrations in support of gay rights and attack the popular notion that homosexuality was a mental illness.18 Prominent homophile activist Frank Kameny envisioned a movement that would be “modeled on the black civil rights movement as formulated by nonviolent leaders such as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.”.19 The homophile movement adapted the civil rights movement’s “Black is Beautiful” slogan in the form of its own motto – “Gay is Good”.20 With the help of his younger associate Craig Rodwell, Kameny organized two picketing events in 1965 protesting Fidel Castro’s plans to put Cuban homosexuals in concentration camps.21 Inspired by the pickets, Rodwell proposed the Annual Reminders – peaceful demonstrations held every Fourth of July outside the Independence Hall in Philadelphia reminding the public that gay Americans did not have the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Demonstrators at the Annual Reminders were “dignified and orderly”, wearing respectable clothing and giving out smiles at every turn – and the police were respectful in turn.22 Nonviolent protest, as well as keeping up an image of homosexuals as “respectable Americans”, was crucial to the relatively positive reception the Annual Reminders received. However, one of the most powerful techniques in Martin Luther King Jr.’s arsenal was missing from the Homophile Movement – civil disobedience. While Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged protestors to break discriminatory laws to highlight the ways in which African Americans were discriminated against, the Homophile Movement limited itself to peaceful assemblies in legally acceptable public forums.
Inherent in the homophile movement’s goal of keeping up a façade of gay people as respectable Americans was an aversion towards excessively radical politics. Foster Gunnison Jr., a founding member of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), wanted to contradict the popular view that homosexuals were “far-out types and professional non-conformists”, believing that a publicly visible pool of “normal” middle-class homosexuals would best help the homophile movement succeed.23 Similarly, Frank Kameny’s worst fear was the homophile movement being overtaken by beatniks and young people that subscribed to fringe ideologies.24 The Mattachine Society, the earliest prominent homophile organization, was originally set up by communists in the 1950s, but the Red Scare convinced the organization that gay activists should instead conform to or accommodate prevailing social norms, and even seek advice from psychiatrists.25 Kameny, who joined the Mattachine Society after its conception, established a “Homosexual Bill of Rights” in 1968, which included amongst its goals the acceptance of homosexuals in the military and federal employment.26 Kameny was fired from the Army Map Service for this.27 In other words, a secondary objective of the homophile movement was to show that homosexuals opposed the things the average American opposed, such as communism, and were patriots that wanted to integrate into the military – which at the time, was wrapped up in the controversial Vietnam War.
The June 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn provided just the right conditions to spark the gay community’s first well-publicized violent protest against police harassment. Usually, the Mafia was tipped off by an informant before New York City’s Sixth Precinct conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn. However, this time, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms discovered that the Stonewall Inn’s liquor bottles had no federal stamps on them – indicating they were bootlegged or stolen from the distillery. Further BATF investigations discovered the bar’s “corrupt alliance with the Sixth Precinct”.28 Thus, the BATF kept the Sixth Precinct in the dark about the raid until the last minute, presumably with the goal of catching the bar’s owners off-guard.29 As a result, Fat Tony was late to respond to the raid because he was high on methamphetamines that night.30 The patrons of the club were also caught off guard, and many of them were not prepared with IDs to show the police. The standards for arrest in the raid were low. Chico, a forty-five year old patron, was arrested for being unable to show an ID proving he was of drinking age. Eighteen-year old Joey Dey was arrested for dancing.31 Both male and female patrons were arrested for not wearing at least three articles of clothing appropriate to their gender.32 The ambush, combined with the low standards for arrest, made this routine raid the one that broke the camel’s back.
In the heat of the moment, the Stonewall Inn’s patrons fought back with physical force. At first, the physical resistance was limited to select individuals resisting arrest, but the fighting quickly erupted into an all-out brawl between police and an angry crowd. The incensed patrons screamed phrases such as “Gay power!” and “Pigs!” at the cops as they weaponized everything from high heels, coins, garbage, and even bricks against the police.33 A New York Times article published the following day – which emphasized the injuries police officers sustained rather than the reasons the patrons fought back – even reported a parking meter being thrown at law enforcement.34 At two-fifty-five A.M., the Tactical Patrol Force – a crack-riot control unit that was created to respond to Vietnam War protests – was summoned to the scene. Despite the additional force, the riots continued until the following night. Upon catching word of the events of the first night, homosexuals from all over New York City came to Greenwich Village to participate in the second night of the riots.35 Despite reports from local news dailies that the second night was less violent than the first, the truth was that the TPF had progressed to bashing heads and breaking the bones of Stonewall Inn Patrons. In other words, violence was only worth reporting on if law enforcement officers were the victims.36 The Village Voice, an alternative news weekly based out of Greenwich Village, had a mixed response to the Stonewall Riots. On July 10th, an editorial mockingly referred to the riots as the “Great Faggot Rebellion”, calling the second wave of protestors “tourist faggots” and “class-A deadbeats”.37 Though the author was not fond of the idea of police, he claimed that even TPF officers were okay as individuals and that the violence coming from both sides was more depressing than inspiring.38 In the July 3rd edition of The Voice, an eyewitness reporter gave an outsider account of the riots, describing the events in vivid detail for shock value. Nevertheless, the reporter was willing to listen to the rioters, one of whom commented that “the gays… were so beautiful – they’ve lost that wounded look that fags had 10 years ago”.39 The reporter accurately predicted that a manifesto for the movement would soon be written, and that “the liberation [was] underway”.40
Jerry Hoose, a gay resident of Greenwich Village, figured that the Stonewall Riots would be a one-off event that would not go down in history.41 However, roughly a week later, Hoose encountered Mattachine Action Committee representatives advertising that they were planning a meeting to form a “more militant organization”.42 At the meeting, participants who suggested that gay activists should remain civil and amicable were shouted down before they could finish their sentences. One prominent participant responded by saying that the gay community “[didn’t] want acceptance, goddamnit! We want respect!”.43 Jim Fouratt, who was known for his antiwar activism, claimed that being “soft, weak, and sensitive… [is the] role society has been forcing these queens to play… We have got to radicalize… if it takes riots or even guns to show them what we are, well, that’s the only language that the pigs understand!”.44 By the end of the night, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed – a new gay activist organization named after the Communist Vietnamese National Liberation Front.45 The comments made during the meeting set the tone that the Gay Liberation Front would take in its activism – and by extension, the tone of the greater gay liberation movement the GLF would kickstart.
The final Annual Reminder occurred on July 4th, 1969, shortly after the events of the Stonewall Riots. As originally planned, Craig Rodwell showed up in a suit and tie and walked in a single-file circle without chanting. However, the crowd that showed up for the protest, which was roughly double the size of the previous riots, was energetic and dressed in jeans and T-shirts. A man crossed out the slogan on his sign and replaced it with “SMASH SEXUAL FACISM.!” Two women broke from the single file circle and held hands – to which Frank Kameny responded by karate chopping the women’s hands apart and telling them to stop. It had only been a week since the onset of the riots, and yet gay activism was already outgrowing its calm and amicable roots. Thus, the Annual Reminders had outlived their use.
A major difference between the Gay Liberation Front and the early homophile movement was that the GLF analyzed the struggles of homosexuals through a Marxist lens, believing that “true homosexual revolutionaries … must ally themselves with other groups oppressed by capitalism”.47 In its first major press release, the GLF announced that they identified themselves “with all the oppressed: The Vietnamese struggle, the third world, the blacks, the workers… all those oppressed by this rotten, dirty, vile, fucked up capitalist conspiracy”.48 Perhaps in part due to the GLF’s communist sympathies, in 1970, the FBI proposed that Craig Rodwell attend GLF meetings and report back to John Caufield, the head of White House security – an offer which Rodwell refused.49 Regardless, the GLF’s support of the North Vietnamese stood in stark contrast to Frank Kameny’s stated goal of integrating homosexuals into the U.S. military, which implied that gays and lesbians should contribute to the Vietnam War effort.
Though the homophile movement as led by Kameny had taken superficial inspiration from the peaceful protest tactics employed by Martin Luther King Jr., some members of the Gay Liberation Front were additionally sympathetic towards the Black Panthers – who drew inspiration from Marxist thought, assisted the poor, and returned fire against the police. In a show of solidarity, the GLF voted in late 1969 to donate $500 to the Black Panthers.50 Additionally, Jim Fouratt – who suggested naming the GLF after the Vietnam liberation struggle, and once harvested sugar cane in Cuba in support of Fidel Castro – posted notices for a demonstration in support of jailed Black Panther party members.51 Fouratt was not the only member of the GLF who was involved in other political and liberation movements. Indeed, many GLF members came from activist backgrounds.52 By 1970, it was clear that some prominent GLF members were more than willing to ally themselves with highly controversial political and liberation movements that could potentially hinder the reputation of the gay liberation movement.
Over the course of 1969 and 1970, the Gay Liberation Front acted in bold, daring ways that the relatively docile Homophile Movement would have never resorted to. Though violent protest never came back into prominent use, civil disobedience and exhibitionism had become the norm in gay activism. The GLF organized a sit-in at the Republican State Committee headquarters, demanding that the New York Republican Party come out in support of gay rights. Five protesters were arrested.53 Sit-ins were, of course, a protest technique popularized by the Civil Rights Movement. On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the world’s first two gay pride parades were held in New York and San Francisco. The marchers were not concerned with looking respectable. Some marchers publicly dressed in opposite gender clothing to protest crossdressing laws. Others protested the criminalization of gay sex with provocative slogans such as “fucking is better than killing” or “make love, not babies” – the latter of which was inspired by the phrase “make love, not war” that was popular in the antiwar and sexual liberation movements.54 A sign that was seen in the march on New York’s Christopher Street summed up the reasoning behind the protesting methods well: “Better Blatant Than Latent”.55
What made the Stonewall Riots the catalyst for the gay liberation movement was not the violent protest tactics utilized, but the precedent it set for nonconformity and noncompliance with discriminatory laws in gay activism. Gay activists were no longer content to politely request liberation. Taking a cue from the assertive nature of other sociopolitical movements of the era, some gay liberationists chose to publicly embrace their “weirdness” and radical politics rather than attempting to convince the public that gay people were deserving of equal rights because they were normal, respectable Americans. Though certain radical ideologies such as communism would lose popularity amongst mainstream gay rights organizations in the 1990s, the alliances forged in the 1970s would lay the foundation for the LGBT community’s current prominent role in American left-wing politics. It is doubtful that the LGBT community would have organized on a large enough scale to secure the litany of legal rights they enjoy today, were it not for a politically charged pub brawl set against the backdrop of 1960s activism.
“4 Policemen Hurt In ‘Village’ Raid.” The New York Times, June 29, 1969.
Carter, David. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
Doty, Robert. “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern.” The New York Times, December 17, 1963, 1-33.
Genetically Modified Organisms, as the name suggests, are organisms whose genes have been modified in a way that does not occur in nature. This usually “involves isolating and removing the DNA encoding single gene from one organism, manipulating it outside the cell (in a laboratory) and reinserting it into the same organism or into the genetic material of another organism.” This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
According to the research we found, most GMOs have been engineered to resist the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. New technologies are now being used to artificially develop other traits in plants, such as a resistance to browning in apples, and to create new organisms using synthetic biology. Most GMO research is currently centered on attaining increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or other consumer benefits.
In our survey we questioned people about their basic knowledge of GMOs, possible unhealthy side effects, and their view of any type of government regulation. Most people polled, either disagreed with the usage of GMOs or, worse, had little knowledge on the subject. The majority (88%), claimed to know about GMOs and 56% knew that GMOs had been on the market for more than 20 years. It was interesting to learn that 28% knew which common foods are GMOs, and that 24% were aware of the recent labeling law passed in 2016. This is a very small percentage, in our opinion, considering the importance food has for a healthy body and mind.
Our poll results showed that women had a better understanding of the subject and were more critical on the matter. However, in general, most people had a basic idea of what GMOs are and were aware of common foods containing GMOs.
One of the questions pertained to how much they knew about the law signed by Obama in 2016 requiring that food products mention on their labels whether they use GMOs. When this law was passed, many people grew dissatisfied because the regulation enabled food companies to circumvent the requirement by putting the information on QR codes. So instead of labeling whether a product contains GMO ingredients, they could use scientific names people would not recognize. Most of those aware of this labeling law believe it could have been better.
We gave the interviewees information on some countries that had banned the usage of GMOs. We questioned poll-takers on whether they agreed with the decision of those countries to ban GMOs. Only 64% of them already knew that other countries had banned GMOs, and 40% agreed with the decision of those countries to ban GMOs.
Our analysis showed us that the answers received were based more on a limited knowledge the majority of the polltakers had about GMOs. Few had knowledge of the diverse scientific research results emanating from outside the biotech companies. We found out that those who knew about GMOs were more concerned and preferred to avoid them when possible. Those individuals believe GMOs have a negative effect on our health due to the alarming amounts of pesticides and have contributing factors to ADD, Autism, and “crazy allergies.”
We chose this topic because we believe “we are what we eat” and it is very important to create some awareness about the choices available to us, so “we shall make better-informed decisions,” when possible. We consider this matter connected to the US Government because they should ensure citizen safety and are strongly involved in the regulation of the food industry. Government should be stricter with the amount of inorganic and dangerous chemicals allowed in our foods. It is well known by doctors and scientists that the human body is not designed to process inorganic chemicals, and their consumption can have harmful side effects. Therefore, we believe GMOs should be banned, as it has been done in many countries of Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. We should look for natural, safer, and healthier alternatives to protect the animals and crops, while creating more natural foods for current and future generations. This, in turn, will result in a great contribution to our environment and ecosystems.
We were surprised by how little people know about the foods they eat, how little they investigate; perhaps because we trust everybody will do “the right thing” with the knowledge they have. This project was a very good learning experience, giving us more information about the topic, as well as more awareness about the products people consume on a regular basis.
Facts and Figures about GMOs
1982 – FDA Approves First GMO
Humulin, insulin produced by genetically engineered E. coli bacteria, appears on the market.
1994 – GMO Hits Grocery Stores
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the Flavr Savr tomato for sale on grocery store shelves. The delayed-ripening tomato has a longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes.
1996 – GMO-Resistant Weeds
Weeds resistant to glyphosate, the herbicide used with many GMO crops, are detected in Australia. Research shows that the super weeds are seven to 11 times more resistant to glyphosate than the standard susceptible population.
1997 – Mandatory Labels
The European Union rules in favor of mandatory labeling on all GMO food products, including animal feed.
1999 – GMO Food Crops Dominate
Over 100 million acres worldwide are planted with genetically engineered seeds. The marketplace begins embracing GMO technology at an alarming rate.
2003 – GMO-Resistant Pests
In 2003, a Bt-toxin-resistant caterpillar-cum-moth, Helicoverpa zea, is found feasting on GMO Bt cotton crops in the southern United States. In less than a decade, the bugs have adapted to the genetically engineered toxin produced by the modified plants.
2011 – Bt Toxin in Humans
Research in eastern Quebec finds Bt toxins in the blood of pregnant women and shows evidence that the toxin is passed to fetuses.
2012 – Farmer Wins Court Battle
French farmer Paul Francois sues Monsanto for chemical poisoning he claims was caused by its pesticide Lasso, part of the Roundup Ready line of products. Francois wins and sets a new precedent for future cases.
2014 – GMO Patent Expires
Monsanto’s patent on the Roundup Ready line of genetically engineered seeds will end in two years. In 2009, Monsanto introduced Roundup 2 with a new patent set to make the first-generation seed obsolete.
The “What is GMO” page from the Non-GMO Project provides a list of high-risk crops.
Are GMOs safe? A growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage, and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights. More than 60 countries around the world – including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union – require GMOs to be labeled. Globally, there are also 300 regions with outright bans on growing GMOs.
In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown. Increasingly, citizens are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.
Are GMOs labeled? Sixty-four countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, require genetically modified foods to be labeled. 1 While a 2015 ABC News survey found that 93% of Americans believe genetically modified foods should be labeled, GMOs are not required to be labeled in the U.S. and Canada. 2 In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.
Which foods might contain GMOs? Most packaged foods contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet — and the vast majority of those crops grown in North America are genetically modified. 3
Animal products: The Non-GMO Project also considers livestock, apiculture, and aquaculture products at high risk because genetically engineered ingredients are common in animal feed. This impacts animal products such as: eggs, milk, meat, honey, and seafood.
Processed inputs, including those from synthetic biology: GMOs also sneak into food in the form of processed crop derivatives and inputs derived from other forms of genetic engineering, such as synthetic biology. Some examples include: hydrolyzed vegetable protein corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein, flavorings, vitamins yeast products, microbes & enzymes, flavors, oils & fats, proteins, and sweeteners.
How do GMOs affect farmers? Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents to control the use and distribution of their genetically engineered seeds. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields have been contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of the drift of pollen from neighboring fields.4 Genetically modified crops therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown.
What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment? More than 80% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance.5 As a result, the use of toxic herbicides, such as Roundup®, has increased fifteen-fold since GMOs were first introduced.6 In March 2015, the World Health Organization determined that the herbicide glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup®) is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Genetically modified crops also are responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “superbugs,” which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons such as 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange).7,8
Most GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture and are developed and sold by the world’s largest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of these GMOs are unknown. Once released into the environment, these novel organisms cannot be recalled.
“Center for Food Safety | Issues | GE Food Labeling | International Labeling Laws.” Center for Food Safety. N.p., n.d. Web.
Langer, Gary. “Poll: Skepticism of Genetically Modified Foods.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 June 2015. Web.
Fernandez-Cornejo, Jorge, and Seth James Wechsler. “USDA ERS – Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.: Recent Trends in GE Adoption.” USDA ERS – Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.: Recent Trends in GE Adoption. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 09 July 2015. Web.
Leader, Jessica. “Monsanto Wins Lawsuit Filed By U.S. Organic Farmers Worried About Seed Contamination.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 June 2013. Web.
Duke, S.O., & Powles, S.B. (2009). “Glyphosate-resistant crops and weeds: Now and in the future.” AgBioForum, 12(3&4), 346-357.
Kustin, Mary Ellen. “Glyphosate Is Spreading Like a Cancer Across the U.S.” EWG. Environmental Working Group, 07 Apr. 2015. Web.
Mortensen DA, Egan JF, Maxwell BD, Ryan MR, Smith RG. “Navigating a critical juncture for sustainable weed management.” BioScience. 2012;62(1):75-84.
“Newsroom.” Agent Orange: Background on Monsanto’s Involvement.p., n.d. Web.
The taking and enslavement of individuals has occurred over centuries and is a pressing issue to this day. Although slavery dates back to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, the exploitation and brutality of humans increased dramatically during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Once the Portuguese colonized Brazil, they found a dependency for cheap labor – African slave labor – for their sugar plantations. Soon, the French and British colonies joined in spreading slavery into the Caribbean Islands, Central and North America. By establishing racial divisions that characterized Africans as “both inferior and a slave,” the white European masters justified taking around 12 million Africans from their homelands to work on plantations in foreign lands (Aronowitz). By the late 19th and early 20th century, a new issue of slavery emerged: the prostitution of white – particularly foreign – women in the United States, typically referred to as “white slavery.” Thus, slavery escaped the bounds of race. These women were often “obtained through deceit, force, or drugs, were coerced or tricked into prostitution” and at times, they were “forced to work in brothels” (Aronowitz). In response, the United States enacted the White Slave Traffic Act in 1910 to prevent men from forcing women into any form of prostitution, acts in relation to immorality, and human trafficking. With Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 1948, slavery was properly defined and condemned stating that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” (“Universal Declaration”).
Today, a new form of slavery exists: human trafficking. Article 3 of the United Nations Trafficking Protocol states:
“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of
coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of
vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent
of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that nearly 20.9 million people in the world are human trafficking victims, where “more than one-third” of exploited individuals come from forced labor and the remaining two-thirds of victims come from sex trafficking (“About the Problem”). Due to the high number of sex and labor trafficked individuals, the costs for care of sex trafficking victims, the economic output of labor trafficking victims, as well as the lack of proper law enforcement and prosecution has proven to have a strenuous impact on the world. The ILO found that labor trafficking generated $51 billion and $99 billion from sex trafficking (de Cock). With $150.2 billion in illegal profits worldwide, human trafficking poses not only a physical, mental, and psychological threat to individuals, but an economic devastation to society.
Review of the Literature
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines forced labor, commonly referred to as labor trafficking, as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily” (de Cock). The National Human Trafficking Hotline explicitly states that labor traffickers are able to “use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion” to manipulate individuals into working against their will (“Labor Trafficking”). In 2012, the ILO estimated 14.2 million individuals around the world were being exploited for forced labor, particularly in sectors such as “agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing, mining and utilities” (de Cock). According to a study conducted by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, approximately 234,000 adult victims of forced labor reside in the State of Texas alone (Busch-Armendariz). As a result, traffickers in Texas are able to “exploit approximately $600 million per year from victims of labor trafficking” (“Study Estimates”).
The United Nations Trafficking Protocol serves as an international protocol that defines the trafficking of persons. More importantly, the protocol aims to prevent, suppress, and punish human trafficking. Article 3 of the Protocol establishes sex trafficking as “the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation” (“Protocol”). The National Human Trafficking Hotline further defines sex trafficking as the involuntary performance of commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion. Oftentimes, sex traffickers use forms of debt bondage, violence, threats, lies, false promises, or other manipulative scenarios so as to profit from the victims involved in the sex industry (“Sex Trafficking”). In 2005, the ILO divided forced labor into three subcategories, one being forced labor imposed by private agents for sexual exploitation for the purposes of “commercial sexual activity, including pornography, exacted from the victim by fraud or force” (de Cock). Another 2012 report by the ILO estimated that nearly 4.5 million people around the world are victims of forced sexual exploitation. In the State of Texas alone, nearly 79,000 minors and youths are victims of sex trafficking according to the study conducted by IDVSA at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (Busch-Armendariz).
Human trafficking victims generally share characteristics that could be placed into separate categories: their country of origin, race, immigration status, gender, and age. A research report by Northeastern University found that the top four countries of birth for forced labor trafficking victims in the United States of America included Mexico, the Philippines, India, and Thailand. The majority of victims working in agriculture came from Latin America, particularly Mexico; however, others in the forced labor workforce had greater variance in the country of origin (Owens). The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found there to be a correlation in the race of sex trafficking victims: the majority of victims were black at 40 percent; 26 percent were identified as white; 23.9 percent were Hispanic; and 4.3 percent were Asian (Human Trafficking). The same study by Northeastern University that examined the immigration status of victims concluded that a high percentage (69 percent) of labor trafficking victims were unauthorized to be in the United States by the time they received victim services, while 28 percent of victims held nonimmigrant visas, such as a temporary work visa or special status visa (Owens). The ILO estimates that women around the world are generally underrepresented in the labor market with an employment-to-population ratio of 72.7 for males and 24.8 for females as of 2012 (de Cock). A report found that 32 percent of labor trafficking victims in the United States alone were male and 68 percent were female (Human Trafficking). The ILO found 4.5 million victims of sexual exploitation currently exist in the world; the majority composed of women at 98 percent (de Cock). The United States shares similar statistics for females. They compose the greatest number of sex trafficking victims (83.9 percent), most frequently entering the commercial sex industry at ages 12 to 14. Nearly 31.6 percent of the victims were minors (Gonzalez).
Today, Houston serves as one of largest hubs for human trafficking in the United States and is the leading city of the trafficking of persons in Texas. The U.S. Department of Justice found that the city of Houston operates over 200 brothels, with approximately two new brothels opening up each month (Boney). As the most diverse and fourth largest city in the nation, citizens are highly susceptible to the trafficking in persons around the Houston metropolitan area. Moreover, easy entryway into the city also allows for the trafficking of victims to occur as it owns two large, international airports – the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport – and the Port of Houston, which is “the largest international port in the United States and the thirteenth busiest in the world” (Boney). However, the city of Houston has initiated a plethora of steps into eliminating human trafficking in the region. As of 2005, the Houston Task Force, a federally-funded program, has “investigated 68 cases of human trafficking and prosecuted 38 cases, resulting in 31 convictions” (“Texas Human”). Similarly, the Shared Hope International also released a field assessment on sex trafficking in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area that takes a look at the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) (Penry). Since its founding, the HTRA has successfully been able to rescue nearly 200 victims of human trafficking, while also educating and “training over 4,000 law enforcement officers” about human trafficking, and prosecute “over 50 individuals with human trafficking related charges” (Penry). Even more so, the City of Houston passed the Executive Order: Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking in City Service Contracts and Purchasing. This executive order was primarily implemented for the purpose of informing the public and its corporate citizens, as well as to encourage contractors to not violate human trafficking laws by simply following the legal and ethical employee recruitment and labor practices (“Executive Order”).
In the State of Texas, human trafficking has become an increasingly important issue as it pertains to the modern-day enslavement of individuals. Through the use of force, fraud, and coercion, many individuals around the world are victims of sexual and labor exploitation to illegally benefit human traffickers. Despite identifying over 300,000 trafficked persons in the State of Texas, victims often go unnoticed by the public and government due to a poor understanding of the issue. Although billions of dollars are spent by the state to prevent human trafficking and provide care for victims, not enough progress has been made to eliminate what is known as modern-day slavery.
Victims of Sex Trafficking: Cost of Care
Sex trafficking is an incredibly heinous act that affects nearly 4.5 million individuals around the world. Victims are often pressured into performing acts of commercial sex with other adults or even forcing minors to engage in commercial sex acts as well. Commercial sex acts usually range from pornography, prostitution, or any other forms of sexual acts in exchange for valuable benefits, including money, drugs, shelter, or food for the held victims. Sexually exploited victims never receive any form of payment from clients. Instead, clients pay the victim’s pimp or brothel owner directly. As a result, the total profits traffickers make annually around the world are approximately $99 billion from the commercial sexual exploitation of their victims. Traffickers in developed economies, including the United States – and countries of the European Union (EU) generate up to $26.2 billion annually from sex trafficking victims, where the annual profit per victim was $80,000 (de Cock). Due to the unethical, illegal, and underground trading nature of commercial sexual exploitation, society is greatly impacted economically, leaving them at a disadvantage.
With a traumatic sexual experience comes the need for special care. Once victims are identified, many forms of treatment are made available for them, including psychological therapy, recovery, and rehabilitation. In the State of Texas, the lifetime cost for minor and youth sex trafficking victims are expected to be approximately $6.6 billion. A study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin states that Texas provides financial care for the victims’ “mental and physical health costs, burdens on the public health system, and law enforcement” (Busch-Armendariz). This includes, but is not limited to, housing and legal assistance, physical and mental health services, counseling for psychological trauma, substance abuse treatment, education, and job training. Although these forms of care are all a necessity for victims, psychological treatment is the most important aspect of rehabilitation in the path to recovery. Sex trafficking victims often develop mental disorders such as “depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other psychiatric conditions” that are only repairable through governmental assistance (Gonzalez). For true recovery to occur, victims must receive services for at least two months, generally visiting rehabilitation centers five to seven times in order to fully recover. The sad reality is that most victims fall back to victimization several times before breaking free from their situation – if they are even able to escape.
Aside from mental and psychological care, sexually exploited individuals often require professional health care due to the development of physical problems or inflicted abuse from their trafficker. As a result of engaging in unsafe and unprotected commercial sex acts with various clients, many sex trafficked victims “are at high risk of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and unsafe abortions” and are therefore at an economic disadvantage to take care of their own health (Gonzalez). Even more so, domestic abuse from traffickers often leads victims to suffer from “genital trauma” resulting “in lacerations, tears, and injuries to the internal reproductive organs” (Williamson). In the United States, healthcare is treated as a luxury and is therefore extremely expensive for victims to recover physically. Only through government assistance are victims able to potentially find a cure for any possible diseases or improve their physical health problems. Sex trafficking presents an economic complication for the State of Texas, as well as the United States and the rest of the world, due to the heavy amount of health expenses, the cost of needed psychological and physical treatment.
Furthermore, victims of sex trafficking often become susceptible to poverty due to their previous owners or traffickers holding any profits that they once possibly made. Consequently, a generation of youth and minors is lost due to years of abuse in the sex trafficking industry (Lillie). The suffering that victims endure from severe trauma both psychologically and physically along with illness inevitably causes the generation of youth and minors to become incompetent adults. A high dependency on governmental welfare systems to survive, as well as consumption and addiction to drugs and alcohol, and possibly a lack of legal immigration status in the United States, creates a massive economic barrier for victims and society as they are not contributing, but rather taking away from the state and the country.
Labor Trafficking: Value of Economic Output
According to the ILO, labor trafficking implements tactics of force, fraud, and coercion to manipulate persons for the purpose of debt bondage, involuntary servitude, forced domestic work, forced labor of migrants in many economic sectors and work imposed in the context of slavery or vestiges of slavery. Forced labor occurs through various economic sectors, including industries such as agriculture, construction, restaurant and food services, manufacturing, retail, domestic work, mining, and herding to benefit the victims’ trafficker. In a 2014 report by the ILO, worldwide profits for construction, manufacturing, mining, and utilities were estimated to be $34 billion, $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing, and $8 billion dollars was saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers.
In the State of Texas alone, the estimated annual value of wages lost is $598,127,942 due to labor trafficking. According to a 2016 study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, there were 36,970 migrant farmworker victims that generated an estimated annual wage of $94,314,906 for their traffickers – in other words, wages that were lost for the state (Busch-Armendariz). Other economic sectors included cleaning services, with 84,100 victims generating $214,549,192 to their traffickers, 35,438 construction work victims bringing in $90,406,591, 60,925 kitchen workers in restaurants producing $155,426,986, and finally 17,024 landscaping and grounds keeping workers generating $43,430,267 (Busch-Armendariz). As indicated, victims of forced labor often have their entire wages stolen or are only given a small percentage of their earned wage back. Consequently, labor trafficking victims become exceedingly dependent on their traffickers on a survival basis. Moreover, because most victims are undocumented, many were once promised the fruitful benefits of the American dream but were instead betrayed by possibly having their “immigration documents stolen, forged, [or] withheld” and manipulated into performing involuntary, forced work (Owens).
Sadly, as companies continue to seek cheap labor, the most vulnerable groups – including the impoverished and undocumented immigrants – become highly predisposed to forced labor. As a result, a decrease in growth for the labor market in the United States and Texas further impedes economic growth at the hands of labor trafficking. The illegal use of labor trafficking not only affects the individual victims but causes the loss of domestic jobs and massive wages in the State of Texas and leaves the unemployed and the government at an economic disadvantage.
Law Enforcement and Prosecution
The United States currently holds the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) provision that mandates “victims be paid restitution, funded assistance programs for victims, and authorized ‘T’ Non-Immigrant Visas (T Visas)” – a visa that gives human trafficked individuals the possibility to remain in the country if they were trafficked into the United States (Gonzalez). However, the mandate lacks effectiveness due to poor law enforcement training, sentencing, and punishment for traffickers, as well as bleak responsiveness through prosecution. Without an informed justice system, no amount of money can help the thousands of exploited individuals across the State of Texas.
In regards to the fraudulent and coercive nature of human trafficking, law enforcement generally lacks the resources, knowledge, and adequate training to properly handle the given situation. Oftentimes, the justice system has a difficulty in distinguishing prostitutes who are voluntary commercial sex workers with sex trafficked victims. On the other hand, most labor trafficking victims never report their conditions to law enforcement as they are afraid it would “result in arrest and/or deportation” rather than an opportunity to receive help (Owens). As a result, forced labor and commercially sexual exploited individuals are treated as criminals rather than as victims. According to the U.S. Department of State, out of 40,000 identified victims worldwide in 2013, only “7,000 human trafficking cases were prosecuted for a crime” (Busch-Armendariz). With little to no data in regards to prosecution at the federal and state level, it is evident that much work is left to improve how Texas and the United States handle prosecution, sentencing, and punishment for traffickers.
Human trafficking is an odious, black market business that affects societies around the world. Through the use of force, fraud, and coercion, sex and labor traffickers are able to illegally profit by exploiting individuals into working against their will. Today, labor trafficking generates approximately $51 billion and $99 billion from sex trafficking across the globe. Although sex and labor trafficking pose a physical, mental, and psychological threat to individuals, it also affects society economically due to the extended costs to care for victims, finding suspects and victims, legislation, law enforcement training, job loss, and much more.
Many efforts, however, are being made in the State of Texas and the City of Houston to fight and prevent human trafficking. With the current mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, new provisions such as the passing of the Executive Order: Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking in City Service Contracts and Purchasing as well as the Houston Task Force have allowed for progress to be made in regards to suppressing the illegal trafficking of persons. In fact, the City of Houston is the “only municipality in the United States whose mayor has appointed a dedicated special advisor to the Mayor on Human Trafficking,” an incredibly important step in anti-human trafficking efforts (Turner). The city also launched an Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan on May 9th of 2016 that has helped improve institutionalized responses, including that of strengthening the ordinance of massage establishments to “help law enforcement crackdown on illicit establishments” as well as instituting a municipal court diversion program that will “connect potential victims and those engaged in prostitution with civil legal service providers” (Turner).
Although there is an immense need to improve on the justice system in regards to human trafficking throughout the city, state, and country, it is important to note that there has been significant progress in the fight against human trafficking.
“About the Problem.” Human Trafficking Center, Human Trafficking Center,
Aronowitz, Alexis A. Human Trafficking: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO, 2017.
Net Neutrality emerged as one of the most prominent and controversial political issues of 2017. The debate was featured across thousands of media outlets big and small, and the final decision to repeal Net Neutrality was highly controversial. Net Neutrality, a term coined by Columbia University Law professor Tim Wu, refers to legislation which forbids Internet service providers from treating data differently due to its source. The speed and quality of the internet connection is constant regardless of the web address a consumer lands on. Net neutrality was put in place under the Obama Administration’s FCC on February 26th, 2015 while Trump-appointed chairman Ajit Pai was the foremost crusader for its hard-fought rollback on December 14th, 2018. Many liberals viewed the threat to Net Neutrality as a threat to the free internet as they knew it, an overstep of corporate greed. Conversely, many conservatives saw it as a victory in the battle to deregulate the economy and encourage growth. However, a closer inspection of Net Neutrality reveals a lack of this simplistic polarity; liberalism can have ideological compatibility with repealing Net Neutrality as can conservatism with its reinstatement. Therefore, it is most useful to leave partisanship behind in pursuit of understanding. This is a discussion on the varied mechanisms in which Net neutrality affects the economy. There are four main entities who will become affected as the repeal is fully realized and made use of: Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), large content providers, small/new content providers, and internet consumers. These four entities will exchange benefits and detriments under the repeal of Net Neutrality. However, upon examining evidence and commentary provided by leading economists, studies provided by reputable research firms, and statements given by the entities themselves, it is reasonable to conclude that both Net Neutrality and a lack of Net Neutrality give differing entities a similar amount of overreach, and a compromise is needed as a means of balance.
It is beneficial to first examine the primary winners of the Net Neutrality repeal, which are Internet Service Providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. When Tom Wheeler’s FCC implemented Net Neutrality in 2015, the Internet Service Providers were essentially defined as common carriers. This meant that Internet Service Providers were subject to government regulation and oversight as expressed in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. ISP’s continuously expressed concern that being held under Title II could be dangerous. For example, under Title II, the government could feasibly set the prices of broadband services themselves, a matter akin to the government setting city-wide electricity rates. The perceived possibility of the government making use of this far-reaching power came to a forefront in 2016 when Cable One, a small Cable and Internet service provider, started raising rates dramatically in low-income areas where they had zero competition. The repeal of Net Neutrality is a victory of sorts for ISP’s because it puts an end to this Title II classification, preventing the FCC from breathing down their neck, and negating the FCC’s ability to treat Internet Service Providers like monopolies. Cable One’s plight was trying to provide large, all-encompassing internet plans to low-income demographics, who largely only use the internet for basic tasks. (Captain 2017, 1). A 2016 review from the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that it is likely net neutrality is hurting consumers who are using the internet primarily to check social media or email. (Greenstein 2016, 127-152). Without Net Neutrality in place, eventually ISP’s could offer bundles where social media and email are prioritized, and could offer these plans at much lower cost to the consumer and to the ISP themselves. In addition, the allowance of paid prioritization allows for ISP’s to collect an additional revenue stream, which could be invested back into the company to enhance the pace of innovation, which would encourage competition. Paid prioritization is a term used to describe the idea that ISP’s can collect money from content providers in order to provide their specific content priority. One hypothetical example would be Google paying an ISP for their search engine to be faster or more featured than other search engines such as Yahoo. If an internet user has a Gmail, and only uses Google as their search engine, one can hypothetically just buy a bundle where google is prioritized in this manner and Yahoo and Bing are not. The consumer benefits because ISP’s are more innovative and progressive, and can tailor their plan at a much lower cost. Ultimately, the winners of Net Neutrality being repealed are Interned Service Providers and consumers. ISP’s are no longer at the mercy for the FCC’s whim and overreach because they are not treated as monopolies. They can now feasibly implement highly customizable internet plans and increase their amount of customers. Paid prioritization assists this process, and provides an additional revenue stream for ISP’s to invest back into innovations in their business. University of California Berkeley economist Michael Katz, in his own published paper Wither U.S. Net Neutrality and Regulation? points out logical holes in the idea of Net Neutrality itself. Katz argues that paid prioritization itself is a normal facet of American economy. Katz writes “The logic of net neutrality would also argue for banning e-commerce sites from purchasing faster delivery from FedEx or UPS, or from offering free shipping” (Katz 2017, 441-468). A massive amount of large online business signed petitions to end the process of repealing Net Neutrality, yet they themselves have engaged in other mediums of pay to play, which demonstrates inconsistent logic and hypocrisy. In summary, repealing Net Neutrality gives much more freedom to ISP’s in order for them to tailor certain plans to certain demographics, at much lower prices. Of course, this bodes well for the consumer. ISP’s will not have to pump money into sluggishly acting in accordance with the FCC every step of the way, and will have additional revenue to pump back into making their technology better. Repealing Net Neutrality is a win for the consumer, and a win for the Internet Service Provider.
It is obvious to see why the titans of internet content, such as Facebook, Netflix, Google, etc. are not keen on paying a fee to Internet Service Providers for prioritization: they are giving up part of their revenue to maintain the priority that they (and all other content providers) were previously given by default under Net Neutrality. However, there is a more far-reaching consequence of paid prioritization. As New York University economics professor Nicholas Economides explains, “it will hobble innovative small and new technology companies that, unable to pay the fees demanded by ISPs, will be put in the slow lane. These companies are the engine of growth for the economy, and the new difficulties they will face will slow the growth of the technology sector, and therefore of the entire economy” (Economides 2017, 1). He has discovered such in a model he has constructed along with Benjamin E. Hermalin, an Economics professor at Berkeley University (Economides 2012, 602-629). It is tempting to believe that large content companies would benefit from paid prioritization, as they can bully smaller competitors out of fast lanes and into obscurity. However, large internet companies rely on small startups to show up onto the scene and innovate. For example, Facebook has been able to stay in its place of relevancy as an internet titan largely by either acquiring and swallowing up smaller, more innovative companies (Instagram, Oculus VR, Drop.io) or mimicking their technology (Snapchat) (Toth 2017, 1). The existence of paid prioritization could mean that these companies will be harder to birth. Under these conditions, it is entirely reasonable to believe innovation and the fast, dynamic growth of the internet will stifle. In the long term, higher-income consumers, who use the internet for more intense and varied services such as streaming, online retail, personal productivity, etc. could be more and more jaded because to these customers, the appeal of the service goes far beyond checking emails. Additionally, large content providers are rightfully scared of ISP’s having the power to favor their own services over theirs. This is ironic, since just last year Google was fined 2.7 billion dollars by the European Union for “[giving] prominent placement in its search results only to its own comparison shopping service, whilst demoting rival services. It stifled competition on the merits in comparison shopping markets.” (Hjelmgaard 2017). This case perfectly illustrates what Internet Service Providers may be able to do with the repeal of Net Neutrality. An Internet Service Provider could selectively choose which websites it favors, with the eventual goal of toppling one larger service in favor of one is ISP is aligned with. Dane Jasper, the CEO of Sonic, believes the added revenue of the pay-to-play system will not only be put back into innovation, but also put into means of bullying smaller ISP providers. This is one hidden danger of repealing Net Neutrality rules. This is why just over 40 small ISP’s write a joint letter to chairman Pai, refuting his view that smaller ISP’s ability to grow has depressed as a result of Net Neutrality. (Kastrenakes 2017). ISP’s, such as AT&T, have come out vehemently against this practice with vows and promises. A blog post written by Bob Quinn, AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, he explains that has never blocked third party applications. (Quinn 2017). In another piece of irony, Quinn fails to mention that AT&T completely blocked Facetime in 2012 over several of its cellular data plans, only allowing it on more expensive data plans, while other similar services continued to exist. (Kang 2012). (Many tend to believe that repealing Net Neutrality will never lead to this aforementioned pattern of behavior by companies. However, incidents such as these cannot be ignored. In summary, most consumers should benefit from ISP’s being able to more properly cater to their specific needs, but it is still entirely possible that innovation as a whole in the internet suffers. If a company does not have the large financial resources it may take to prioritize itself to some degree, it could end up dying out. Small, new, unique businesses are the engine of innovation in the American economy. Consumers may become less enthused when the stagnation occurs, and even more so if ISP’s are prioritizing and pushing lackluster services for their own interest.
As discussed, analyzing the pros and cons of Net Neutrality blurs what could be considered the “conservative” or “liberal” approach. For example, a conservative might favor repealing Net Neutrality in favor of deregulation and economic growth. However, some economists believe and have demonstrated in their own models that small and large businesses alike could potentially be bullied out of fair competition. A liberal might favor an equal playing field for everyone when it comes to the internet, but will learn that large amounts of lower-income families are left at the mercy of ISP’s who are cannot offer them cost-effective plans because their hands are tied by the FCC, which is prohibiting innovation through multiple mechanisms which would make more widespread internet access possible. ISP’s are strong-worded in their language when discussing Net Neutrality’s repeal, explaining that they will not block certain competing applications for the sake of bolstering their own, yet several of the biggest telecom companies in the United States have been guilty of this in the past decade. Content Provider giants like Facebook and Google take the time to explain why pay-to-play systems are bad for the internet, yet are guilty of this supposed sin in many ways. In conclusion, doing away with Net Neutrality entirely might be just as detrimental as keeping it in place. Both liberal and conservative political figureheads and economists must come together for the sake of both the innovation of stagnant, worn-out ISP’s and the continued innovation of content and service providers, big and small, of the internet. Of course, Net Neutrality has only very recently been rolled back, and the consequences of this action, beneficial and/or detrimental, cannot truly be evaluated for several years. A system of checks and balances, making sure that no one entity has a massive, commanding amount of power to suppress competition in their own realms, will be appropriate in the future.
Effects of the Romanticization and Glorification of Sex Trafficking
A long history of the sex industry objectifying the female body for male pleasure continues to be widely prominent and relevant across the globe today. Annually, hundreds of thousands of America’s children and youth are being sexually exploited. This trafficking of humans dates back to the late 1800s when children were first prostituted in the United States. Since then, the industry has been exacerbated by globalization and the emergence of the internet as a major source of communication. While the increasing prominence of the media and internet allows for news to be easily shared, it also causes people to become desensitized to the harsh reality of the sex industry. Also, false news stories decrease the credibility of news articles and, as an effect, audiences are less inclined to believe news in general (Sobel). Furthermore, the media unintentionally romanticizes and glorifies sex trafficking through pop culture and online literature. Because of this, sex trafficking is not a topic being taught in schools nor being advocated against by a majority of the population. This allows for Texas laws to continue to criminalize trafficking victims while indirectly authorizing pimps and the industry as a whole to thrive and grow in its crimes. The glorification of pimp culture in the media and criminalization of trafficked victims in Texas laws has caused sex trafficking to be normalized, and even romanticized in society, instead of being shown as a critical issue.
Review of the Literature
Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is defined by Edward J. Schauer as the “sexual exploitation of American children, within the United States borders, for commercial purposes.” Furthermore, the term was actually coined by Shared Hope International (SHI) as a means of drawing attention to the commercial sexual exploitation of people under 18 years of age who are permanent residents of America (Schauer). According to statistics, Schauer describes how men between the ages of 20 and 65 make up the majority of people engaging in the sexual exploitation of minors. Furthermore, they define how the ages of victims of DMST range from 12 to 18 years old. This is due to society’s obsession with the sexualization and exploitation of minors. Schauer further states how juvenile prostitution and child pornography are both examples of the sexual exploitation of children. The term ‘pornography’ is used to refer to anything that is “designed to encourage sexual arousal without emotional attachment” and can be considered, in a psychoanalytic context, to be a perverted, sublimated form of love (“Sex”).
Generally, sex traffickers of domestic minors are known as pimps, people who derive profit, monetary or not, in trade for the sexual exploitation of a minor by their customers (Schauer). According to Andrea J. Nichols, the word originated back in the 1600s to define an individual who coordinated the sale of sex for his own profit. Shared Hope International claims that almost all prostituted minors have pimps who profit from and manage them (Schauer). Pimps also perceive the sex economy as a low-risk enterprise with a high-reward through reported “incomes from $5,000 to $32,833 a week” (Withers). In the sex industry, modes of exploitation and oppression by pimps typically involve acts of abuse, degradation, and violence against women (“Sex”). This usually involves young people – mostly women – who have left home, after having been abused as a child, and are addicted to drugs (“Sex”). This hard life and background often lead women to the romanticized idea that pimps can save them from their past, which causes them to eventually end up in the violent control of a pimp. This is exemplified by Meghan Casserly’s interview with Rachel Lloyd that directly brings to light the glorification of pimping done by favorite rappers that serve to romanticize pimps for thirteen-year-old girls with how they can be “cute and handsome” men who “pay attention.” In pop culture, the word pimp means “really cool” with achieving a high level of success (Nichols). Overall, Nichols states how the word signifies images of wealth, power, and respect through the management of girls and women who sell sex for profit. However, Nichols takes notice of how these definitions distort, ignore, and glorify the harsh reality of what pimping truly entails for women, men, and children.
Casserly emphasizes the stigma around the term “prostitute” to describe girls in the commercial sex industry. Instead of addressing the harsh issue of women and children being trafficked, the term “prostitute” brings to the mind the image of a “girl on the street, [in] high heels, stockings, the works” and the idea of consensual prostitution (Casserly). Alexis A. Aronowitz states how using the term “prostitute tourism” to label sex tourism actually softens and narrows down the harsh, wide impact of sex tourism and the sex trade. The biggest misconception of sex trafficking, according to Casserly, is that it is a victimless, harmless crime with women who are “too lazy to get a job at McDonald’s” or “like having sex all the time.” In reality, the vast majority of trafficked girls come from homes of sexual and physical abuse, trauma, and domestic violence (Casserly). Furthermore, Aronowitz takes a look at the controversial view of prostitutes. She describes how radical feminists view prostitutes as oppressed sexual victims, while some liberals view them as empowered sexual actors. Aronowitz emphasizes how a distinction must be drawn between sex trafficking – which involves non-consenting adults and children – and prostitution, which involves consenting adults and the sex trades.
Despite hiring its first director of human trafficking prevention in the Department of Family and Protective Services and providing $4.4 million to combat sex trafficking in Harris County, Katie Watson found how Texas laws continue to fail to rightfully address sex trafficking. A report from The Schapiro Group found that approximately 188 girls under the age of 18 are sexually exploited through internet classified sex ads on a typical weekend night in Texas (“Texas”). Still laws in Texas continue to “permit the promotion and selling of child sex tourism” and “permit traffickers to build a defense around a minor’s willingness to engage in the commercial sex act” (Watson). Texas also “does not require delinquent child sex trafficking victims to participate in the governor’s care coordination program to avoid adjudication,” but Texas laws can prevent “child sex trafficking victims from receiving crime victims’ compensation money if they committed an offense related to trafficking victimization” (Watson).
Trafficked women in Texas are stigmatized as prostitutes and therefore are taken less seriously politically and socially. Also, trafficking is not seen as an issue despite the large, uncountable numbers of trafficked victims in the city of Houston alone because of how pimp culture is glorified and victims are stereotyped as consenting prostitutes. The life of being taken and cared for by a pimp can be dreamed for by vulnerable girls and women who have a history of abuse and drug usage with how many fictional romance books romanticize the sex trafficking industry. Without proper restrictions in Texas laws, both the glorification of pimp culture and romanticization of sex trafficking causes the industry to continuously grow and prosper.
Romanticization of Sex Trafficking
On online literature websites, millions of young, female readers are obsessing over the idea of falling in love with a tall, dark, and handsome man with a troubled past who popularly stars as a protagonist of fictional stories. Dark themes of these characters kidnapping young girls and using them as sex slaves are romanticized and a popular trend on the website Wattpad. Wattpad is a social networking website and app for readers and writers to share, discover, comment on, and vote on user-generated stories. Co-founded by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, the website is based in Toronto, Canada with a monthly audience of over 65 million readers with over 400 million stories already uploaded and easily accessible. Over 70 percent of the users are female and 80 percent are Millennials or Generation Z (Anderson). With these demographics, it is surprising to find how dark the content can be. For example, when searching the tag “sold,” over 116,000 stories surfaced with thousands of views and many include being sold to a gang leader in some form. Titles included “The Abused Girl,” “Sold to the Gang Leader,” and “Abducted.” The most searched tags in romance include negative terms such as “badboy,” “heartbreak,” “love-hate,” “mafia,” and “revenge.” Many of these stories are written by teenage girls intended for an audience of other teenage girls. To a greater extent, a common theme in fanfiction about famous musicians found to have the young female protagonist be kidnapped by them and used for sex. For example, a Wattpad story titled “Kidnapped, By One Direction” was found to have 9.9 million reads and was written by a girl in her teenage years for other young girls to read. With such a large audience of young, female readers, these innocently written stories sparks a trend of romanticizing sex trafficking.
Another story titled “Sold. To Justin Bieber,” written by user TheSwaggyBieber06, has around 99,000 reads and approximately 1,450 votes as of May 2018. It tells a short story about a girl, Skylar, who is left vulnerable in Canada after moving with her family from the United States. She ends up getting kidnapped and sex trafficked later when going alone to a party. The sixth chapter immaturely describes Skylar’s experience of preparing to be auctioned off throughout her narration:
They walked me downstairs and into a room. As we went by there was a lot of other girls in cuffs or tied with rope to different things. They all looked as scared as I did. They led me into a room. “Melanie we have someone for you to fix for an auction” “Oh okay, what’s her name” she asked. Melanie had a lot of makeup and other things to ‘beautify’ someone. “That’s not important” a guy said. “Okay well if you wanna come over here and lay on the table” she said to me “Um no, I’m not lying on the table” I hissed. “Oh right, forgot to tell you, she’s a stubborn one.” Mason said “Well how about you sit in the chair?” She said “Fine” I said. I figured sitting in the chair would be better cause I could see what’s going on. “So what is your name” she asked sweetly. “Skylar” I said. “Skylar? That’s a nice name” she said. “Thanks” is all I mumbled. “So what is this whole auction thing?” I asked. “Well. Basically the guys that you saw, there gonna take you to this place where anybody can basically buy you, and do what they please with you. Basically it’s all for money” she explained. “Well what is this for” I said pointing to the makeup and clothes. “It makes the sales go faster because people bid higher amounts” She said hesitating. (TheSwaggyBieber06)
The author briefly describes a scene of a downstairs level of a building where many girls, assumingly other trafficking victims, laid scared and tied up. The protagonist passes by them to a private room to be dressed up to prepare for an auction where she is to be sold for money. According to Melanie, the clothing and makeup she wears are directly related to the amounts people will bid for her. Through a lack of proofreading with missing and incorrect use of punctuation and the wrong usage of “there” instead of “they’re,” it is clear that the author is a more immature writer. It is also noteworthy how the author never directly uses the phrase “sex trafficking” throughout the excerpt and in the story as a whole despite similar descriptions to the industry. This leads to an unknown understanding of whether it was the author’s intention to write a fictional story about trafficking or if they are even educated on the topic at all. With the immense popularity of stories on Wattpad where female protagonists are sold to a dominant male character, it is a strong possibility that the author was merely just following the trend. However, the lack of maturity when writing about the serious issue of sex trafficking causes the author, whether intentional or not, to seem like they are ridiculing and demeaning the harsh reality of what trafficked victims have actually gone and currently are going through.
Later in the chapter, Skylar is sold at the auction to the winning bid of $700,000 by Justin Bieber. When first seeing him, her initial remark was that “he was really cute, specially [sic] for someone who just bought me.” This statement is not only an unrealistic response to such a horrific event but further reveals how the sex trafficking industry is romanticized to the point where teenage Wattpad authors are disturbingly characterizing pimps as well-known, famous idols who are loved by many. Justin Bieber has a large, devoted fanbase titled the “beliebers” who love and view him as a role model. With this illustration of him as a sex trafficker, the author further romanticizes pimps and their actions by equivalating them to be seen as role models. Furthermore, the author demeans the experiences of trafficking victims in chapter 7 when Bieber states “how can she still want to go home? I’ve been nothing but nice to her. She is selfish, that’s her problem. She is ungrateful, I’m being nice to her. I mean I’m feeding her, giving her a place to stay, and I’m trying to make friends with her.” His confusion directly correlates to the popular idea and misconception that pimps are merely helping women in need. Not only does this mindset wrongfully victimize sex traffickers, but it leads to the criminalization of victims themselves.
This romanticization of sex trafficking by teenage, female authors on Wattpad both reveals the lack of education in Texas schools concerning the topic and parallels how Texan laws criminalize underage trafficking victims. Children in Texas are not being taught about the seriousness and large-scale problem of sex trafficking in the state. Instead, they are writing and reading romantic stories of sex trafficking without restriction, so they then grow up desiring the care and love they think a pimp can provide. Therefore, the industry is not being widely advocated against by the younger generations, allowing both for sex trafficking to thrive and current Texas laws to continue to wrongfully criminalize trafficked children for selling underage sex instead punishing the people truly at fault.
Glorification of Pimp Culture
Pimp culture has been normalized and glorified by the media to the point that the term “pimp” has become part of common, everyday slang and language. Music videos play a large role in desensitizing the public to the sex trafficking industry by normalizing the act of stripping for girls. It is a common joke for girls and women to laugh about dropping out of school to become a stripper because of how the media glorifies the act of prostitution with its large revenue. Jasmine Johnson, a caught pimp who led a group of eight women in the city of Dallas, stated that she was drawn to pimping because she was “in love” with how the “money was good” (Walters). The opportunity to be rich is what draws many young girls and boys to the trafficking industry. Children and teenagers see pimps as cool and aspire to be like them while young girls view them as handsome men who will cherish and protect them. Common usage of the word “pimp” in language today further normalizes and glorifies sex traffickers with phrases, such as “you are such a pimp” and “that’s so pimp,” that are synonymous to wealth, power, and respect. Furthermore, many books positively use the word in their titles despite not having anything to do with actual pimps themselves – such as Pimp Your Finances: Get out of Bad Debt and Money Wisely by Ken McLinton (Otranto). This normalization of pimp culture plays a large role in desensitizing society to the disgusting role sex traffickers play in selling women.
In the media, controversy in the anti-trafficking movement arose when rap musician Necro published a violent song in 2010 titled “Sex Traffic King” (Hughes). Necro’s music carries a pimp theme to it with his album covers picturing himself in classic, stereotypical pimp attire. His disturbing lyrics and emphasize on violence against women in his songs were brought to the attention of anti-trafficking activists, specifically the Barnaba Institute, who launched an online petition to prohibit this song from being played (Hughes). Necro responded that he does not support human trafficking despite making a toast to white slavery in his other songs (Hughes). Lyrics of the song include “not even immigration knows where your place is, you’re faceless from the streets of the Czech Republic to being checked into a snuff flick, snatched in public, a piece of snatch, a good catch” and “you’re flipping like a mouse in a trap, you can’t get out, you’ve been caught, you’ve been bought, you’re an import, your existence is unimportant, no one will report you missing.” While he is protected under his right to freedom of speech, his disturbing lyrics demean trafficked victims and normalizes the sex trafficking industry for young age groups who are not educated both on what his lyrics mean and sex trafficking truly entails. Glorifying the act of pimping for young children creates one of the biggest challenges to ending sex trafficking both nationally and in the state of Texas.
Sex Trafficking and Effects in Texas
Despite making preventive measures against sex trafficking, Texas continues to criminalize a child for prostitution offenses by penalizing them for having paid sex. Moreover, the Texas Family Code can actually be utilized to define pimps as essentially the legal caregivers of trafficked minors if they provide them shelter, food, and clothing (Becker). With young girls at the mercy of prosecution, pimps use this law to their advantage by forcing them to carry out crimes. This causes an uneven distribution of criminality. Julietta Hua brings to light the questions “how are we being oriented to see victimhood in one situation but not another?” and “how do we come to see some issues as human rights concerns worthy of attention and intervention and not others?” Furthermore, how should Texas determine the legibility of sex trafficking victimization? The cultural narrative defines and affects what makes a person a victim of sex trafficking. Yet, this same culture is affected and controlled by the existing romanticized and glorified pimp culture in Texas. Teenagers are the most vulnerable to being trafficked and yet are not being educated and made aware of the issue in schools. Moreover, teenagers are made even more vulnerable to trafficking operations with the increased usage of social media, for sex traffickers can easily facilitate their crimes in and around schools through text messaging (“Recognizing”). A common misconception is that sex trafficking only occurs in “city streets and dark motel rooms,” but traffickers can actually be found in schools and playgrounds (“Recognizing”). With children being the most vulnerable to being trafficked and desensitized, Texas should do more to raise education on the problem in order to change the cultural narrative that affects how sex trafficking victims are defined by the law.
Due to the romanticization, glorification, and lack of education of sex trafficking, teenagers in Texas easily can fall prey to pimps and then be penalized for it by Texas laws. Additionally, the Texas Family Code places responsibility onto child prostitutes for their sexual acts despite not even properly educating them in the first place. This flaw in Texas legislature facilitates the promotion of sex trafficking by allowing pimps to emotionally manipulate their victims by persuading them that the law cannot protect them and they will be penalized for the criminal acts that the pimps force them to do. By seeing pimps as not doing anything wrong, Texas laws further devalue sex trafficking victims. This, in addition to the problem of romanticizing and glorifying pimp culture, further distances Texas from solving and ending the sex trafficking industry.
Because of the lack of awareness and education, children are growing up believing that sex traffickers are “cute” and “cool.” This mindset demeans the sickening experiences of sex trafficking victims and causes the industry to continue to thrive. Furthermore, the romanticization of sex trafficking and glorification of pimp culture causes society to be desensitized to the horrifying, growing problem of trafficking both globally and in Texas. This normalization causes people to not consider it a problem, therefore causing a lack of advocation and change. Creating better and accessible education on trafficking in schools is vital for increasing awareness of the issue to the younger generations who are most at risk of being trafficked. Through the hanging of posters and providing presentations, the problem becomes more visible. Also, resources – such as pamphlets and brochures – on how to attain help and guidance for trafficking victims should be shared and easily accessible to the youth. Through these learning materials, more emphasis should be placed on how the term “pimp” is not synonymous to “cool” in order to help decrease the normalization and glorification of pimp culture. A short lesson could be done in English classes that specifically examines and teaches the true meanings of misused words, like “pimp,” as an effort to further raise awareness. Society is at fault for allowing sex trafficking to occur because of how the industry is romanticized and glorified by all. But by increasing awareness and education, normalization of trafficking will eventually end and be seen as the sickening issue it truly is.
Anderson, Porter. “YA Reading and Writing Trends from Wattpad’s 60 Million Users.”
Being homeless in the 1600’s meant being “whipped, branded, jailed, indentured, enslaved, or executed,” (Diluio Jr. 2011, 30). Homelessness has been documented in America since the 1640’s (Fisher 2011). It is an old problem that still exists today. According to Robert Fisher of the Plymouth Congregational Church, homelessness was thought to be a moral and character flaw in the 1700 century. A homeless person in that time had to deal with the societal stigma of being homeless and would have to prove their worth (Fisher 2011). According to John J. Dilulio Jr. (2011) from the New York Republic magazine, today’s homeless are victims of abuse, mental illness, alcoholics, drug addicts or poor. Homelessness transcends socio-economic racial and gender status, yet it seems to particularly affect people with mental illness, lack of affordable housing and lack of jobs for unskilled work. What is the broad picture of homelessness in Texas and what programs are being used to combat the issue?
The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition gives the definition of the homeless as an individual or family who lacks a fixed, and regular adequate nighttime residence (TCHC 2012). It goes on to break down how the new rule funded by HUD categorizes the homeless: literally homeless, imminent risk of being homeless, homeless under other federal statutes and fleeing from domestic violence (HUD 2012). Peter Rossi, a professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst made a distinction between “literal homeless” and “precariously housed.” The “literal homeless” are those who do not have a regular house, apartment, mobile home, rented room or a shelter to lay their head down at night (Diluio Jr. 2011 28) They sleep in places not intended for this purpose, including bus stations, abandoned buildings, cars, vans, trucks and make shift metal roofed shanties whereas the precariously housed are poor individuals who are about to be evicted, and thrown out by relatives, as they struggle with paying the rent (Diluio Jr. 2011). In Texas, as of 2016, there are an estimated 23,122 homeless people (HUD 2011). Approximately, 7 out of every 10,000 persons in Texas are homeless (“History & Background” 2018). Texas is one of five states in the U.S. that account for the majority of homeless in America (Murphy and MacLaggan 2013).
Mental illness is a main contributing factor to homelessness. Of these homeless Texans, 19% have severe mental illness (Hogg Foundation 2013). The experience of homelessness can elevate the people into psychiatric distress as well as psychosocial vulnerability (Castellow 2015). According to the BioMed Central Journal, homeless persons living with a mental illness experience multiple deprivations, such as cognitive deficits, depression and higher risks of being physically ill, which can cause risks of suicide (Godikumar 2015). Behavioral health problems can prevent people from having stable relationships with developing trust with others. One of the issues they experience is shame from being in the situation they are in (Jimenez 2015). Mental illnesses can affect a person’s physical health in chronic ways such as aches and pains, obesity, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, sinus issues, headaches, irritated skin, anxiety and tics and twitches (Hayward 2016). According to Anuj Shah, a Professor of Behavioral Science, poverty affects the cognitive functions in the brain with the juggling of the demands of lacking food, a home and having their needs not met. Many homeless people are forced to think critically about every day decisions and they see life through a different lens. Also, the lack of money can make it hard to think clearly, leaving a person to feel mental fatigue (Andress 2018).
Addressing the needs of those homeless who are mentally ill is more difficult. Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) of Tarrant County offers programs for mental health services for those in crisis, by monitoring and providing programs for group counseling as well as individual counseling. They encourage mental health recovery with safe affordable housing options and housing resources. Supported case management is offered with training of community reintegration skills for the person dealing with mental illness. In Texas, another source of help for the homeless is the Healthcare for the Homeless. They work closely with public health providers and the county health department as well as the Harris County Center for Mental Health to provide direct patient care for the homeless who are vulnerable and in need of immediate care (“History & Background” 2018).
The mentally ill homeless in Texas can benefit from advocacy programs like the Hogg Foundation for mental health. This foundation supports a permanent affordable housing community. Permanent supportive housing is housing support with safety and affordability, community integration, full rights of tenancy, immediate access to housing, availability of voluntary and flexible services and functional separation of housing management and health and human services. The Hogg Foundation encourages advanced wellness and recovery, people who have been through the process themselves or have gone through it with a family member can know what it is like to experience the hope of recovery (McGraw 2012).
One major issue facing all homeless people is the lack of affordable housing. The city of Fort Worth began to address the needs of the homeless after an article by reporter Jeff Guinn was published in the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1997. Guinn wanted to experience what it would be like to live the life of a homeless man for one week. He set out for the quest in April. Guinn chose April thinking it would be warm. Guinn discovered his first night to be cold and rainy. He found that the homeless were not about camaraderie, they were all about themselves and did not prove to be a source of support to Guinn or one another. He found he could get a free bowl of soup from a nearby Mexican restaurant. By 11 p.m. he was ready to find a place to sleep. He found a parked cargo van that was not locked and crawled in there for the night. He was able to use the bathrooms at the library. For Guinn, dignity was nowhere to be found. People did not make eye contact with him nor did they speak with each other. Union Gospel and the Presbyterian Night Shelters had lines forming down the block simply for a bed for one night. From this experience, Guinn deduced that by sharing this personal experience with others through his reporting of the homeless situation in Fort Worth, this would call attention to this problem. As a result, community leaders and politicians decided to try to address the issue. This was done by starting the Day Resource Center (DRC) in 1999 which offered services to the homeless such as showers, bathroom facilities, and life skills training. An average of 350 homeless people visited the center each day (Branch 2012). Eventually, this led to the center opening a complex with twenty-four apartment units. The complex housed people of whom 80% were homeless within that neighborhood. This effort of combatting homelessness eventually led to DRC putting housing first with rapid rehousing programs used to improve housing for the homeless people. This provision provided a safeguard of hope. DRC has partnered with the Paulos Foundation which developed the Palm Tree Apartments that are a permanent supportive housing community complex (Day Resource Center for the Homeless 2017). The biggest impediment of ending homelessness is the extreme shortage of affordable housing. Of all the communities nationwide Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranks among the lowest for available and affordable homes for low income people.
Over the last decade Texas, has made progress in a much-needed solution to solving the problem with affordable housing for the homeless. One such example is the Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) program which is a grant award funded by nonprofit organizations, cities and counties of Texas. These programs help the homeless to regain some stability quickly. The ESG program provides help in operating shelters, provides essential services to the shelter residents and rapidly re-house homeless individuals. The Housing Choice Voucher assistance program of Section 8 assists with rental payments on behalf of the homeless individual. There are income stipulations, and the size of the family is considered. The Texas Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) which is a HUD-funded program implemented to help and re-develop foreclosure properties that may provide a livable home for a homeless individual. The state of Texas also has a Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Program (PRA) which provides rental assistance for extremely low-income persons with disabilities (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs).
In addition to the other programs a new facility in Fort Worth, Texas is True Worth Place. It opened in 2016 to help the homeless, this facility serves individuals based on five core values: respect, compassion, integrity, responsibility, and hope. True Worth Place offers a safe and clean day shelter that includes restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, telephones, computers and temporary storage. It helps individuals with healthcare, employment, education, mental health, and substance abuse treatment, benefits, as well as critical documents such as acquiring a social security card and ID and birth certificate.
Another major issue for the homeless is the lack of jobs for unskilled labor which contributes to homelessness. Clean Slate, is a program offered through Fort Worth Presbyterian Night Shelter (“Clean Slate” 2018). It is designed to erase any issue that may cause the homeless from working. The goal is to provide work for the individuals that will allow them to feel like part of a community. Clean Slate provides a place to live at the shelter. The shelter partners with the community to provide the homeless with jobs. For example: The Clean Slate workers provide litter pickup, make-ready cleaning, commercial kitchen rental centers, and commercial janitorial services. These guests are welcome to work with the program indefinitely; however, it is with the hope that the training will prepare them to transition permanently into the workforce.
Star of Hope Mission in Houston offers life changing positive programs, these structured programs are examples that encourage educational opportunities for spiritual growth, life management, employment and recovery (Star of Hope). There are programs for men as well as women and family development classes. Compassion is the model for a purposeful out reach. Community partners and donors help to transform the people who live in poverty. They inspire the homeless to rise above their circumstances and set measurable goals. Many services are offered to help set them on a path to success. Career development curriculum, personal development, spiritual life programs, workforce development, computer learning centers, counseling, emergency walk-in centers, health clinics, new hope substance abuse recovery, on-site day care, partnership with other agencies, and new journey class transition-age youth initiative programs are among the many opportunities offered for growth in making positive changes in the lives of the homeless.
Solving the problem of homelessness is a marathon not a sprint. If the problems causing homelessness are met, success can be accomplished. Purposefully, addressing the mentally ill, the lack of affordable housing for the homeless and providing skills for gainful employment solves many of the issues in providing a solution to help the homeless. Some of the government programs are working that are implemented for the homeless in Texas, but more needs to be done to continue to address the issues for those who have not been included in the solutions. More funding is needed to sustain the ongoing efforts for the plight to end homelessness in Texas as well as the United States. Regardless of their circumstances, the homeless deserve to be treated with dignity while meeting their needs. Strong communities are built on partnerships and collaboration in setting a goal to improve life for the less fortunate. The state and local governments must persevere by continuously seeking news ways to sprint in the race toward improving homelessness.
Branch, Alex. “Housing First Approach.” Journal of Housing and Community Development, November/December 2012, 8-13.
Castellow, Jennifer, Bret Kloos, and Greg Townley. “Previous Homelessness as a Risk Factor for Recovery from Serious Mental Illnesses.” Community Mental Health Journal 51, no. 6 (2015): 674-84. doi:10.1007/s10597-014-9805-9.
“DRC Solutions to End Homelessness.” Day Resource Center for the Homeless Is Now the DRC. Accessed March 29, 2018. http://www.drc-solutions.org/.
Fisher, Robert. “The History of Homelessness in America 1640’s to the Present.” Plymouth Congregational Church, November 16, 2011, 2.
Godikumar, Vandana, Joske Bunders, Kanala Easwaran, Nirmal Jude, and Mrinalini Ravi. “International Journal of Mental Health Systems.” International Journal of Mental Health Systems. August 18, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2018. https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com/.
Godikumar, Vandana, and Inge Petersen. “Health System Governance to Support Integrated Mental Health Care in South Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.” International Journal of Mental Health Systems 9, no. 1 (2015). doi:10.1186/s13033-015-0004-z.
Jimenez, Sally. “SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. March 20, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2018. https://www.samhsa.gov/.
Access to quality health insurance is a problem for many people, but especially for children. One of the main goals of recent U.S. health insurance policies is to increase health insurance access for children. The driving force behind Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) is the recognition that investing in children’s health is important to their education and ability to contribute to society in the future. A cumulated review of research examining the impact of CHIP on children’s health is positive and suggests that CHIP programs are advancing the goal of health coverage which is better health. Although the source of funding for CHIP is often controversial, CHIP provides effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life.
Effective, Affordable Health Insurance for Needy Children: CHIP
Children need health insurance. Access to quality health insurance is a problem for many people, but especially for children. One of the main goals of recent U.S. health insurance policies is to increase health insurance access for children. The driving force behind Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) is the recognition that investing in children’s health is important to their education and ability to contribute to society in the future. Joycelyn Elders, a former U.S surgeon general, said, “You cannot educate a child who is not healthy, and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated” (Oral Health and Learning 3). The availability of health insurance for children will increase their utilization of medical care and hence improved overall health. Even though Medicaid was expanding during the 1980s, millions of children remained uninsured (The Children Health Insurance). Something needed to be done to address the gaps in coverage between the poorest populations where children received Medicaid and the more affluent populations where children and their families could not afford health insurance. With bi-partisan leadership, the federal government established the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 as a federal and state partnership. States administer the program with the expressed purpose of providing health insurance for children who do not qualify for Medicaid nor have access to other forms of insurance (The Children Health Insurance Program). State’s Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) gives families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but earn too little to be able to afford private insurance, a means of covering their children (“CHIP in Texas”). Families USA, the voice for health care consumers, claims that “lawmakers from both parties have recognized that investing in children’s health is an investment in the country’s future” (Mahan). Although the source of funding for CHIP is often controversial, CHIP provides effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life.
Even though CHIP is a state-federal partnership, states have flexibility in designing their program and determining how to spend the federal dollars received for the health insurance program for these uninsured children (Medicaid.gov). A state must follow some federal guidelines, but overall, states have more flexibility in their administration of CHIP than they have with Medicaid. Some states have separate CHIP programs, and some states include CHIP as part of their Medicaid expansion. Of the children enrolled in CHIP, roughly 44 percent are involved in separate CHIP programs, and the other 56 percent are part of a CHIP Medicaid expansion program. (Mahan). Combined, CHIP and Medicaid provide insurance coverage to approximately 39 percent of all children in the United States (Mahan).
CHIP is available to children under 19 years of age (Mahan). Those who apply for CHIP are required to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. In the state of Texas, CHIP can be offered to children up to 20 years old under certain conditions (“CHIP In Texas”). The enrollment in CHIP is open to any pregnant women, regardless of age, so that they can receive coverage for their unborn child (CHIP In Texas). Families USA mentions four categories of children who benefit from CHIP: children with special health care needs, children in working families, children of color, and children in rural communities (Mahan). According to Texas Health and Human Services, more than 4 million low-income Texans are covered by Medicaid and CHIP (“About Medicaid and CHIP”).
Families qualify for CHIP based on their annual income and size of their household. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “the median income eligibility threshold for CHIP is 255 percent of poverty level which is $60,818 for a family of four” (Vestal). In Texas, CHIP applicants in a “household of four must not exceed an annual income of $49,086 in order to qualify for benefits; a five-person household cannot surpass an annual income of $57,449 to be eligible” (“CHIP in Texas”). There is a small cost the families must pay towards their enrollment in CHIP. In Texas, it costs the family $50 or less per child per year depending on the size of the household (“CHIP in Texas”). Medicaid is different because there is no cost, and there are no fees for co-pays. CHIP is affordability to low income families reduces the uninsured rate among children. “Nearly 90 percent of children covered are in families earning 200 percent of poverty or less” (Mahan).
Paradise found that in 2011, 87 percent of children who were eligible for Medicaid and CHIP participated in these programs nationwide, although the rate did vary by state and by subgroups of children. It is noteworthy to mention that between 1997 and 2012 “the uninsured rate for children fell by half, from 14% to 7%” (Paradise), signaling that the program is working. CHIP and Medicaid play an especially large role in this drop in uninsured children, especially for specific populations of children, those of color and those with special health care needs. According to Julia Paradise’s research on the impact of CHIP, “CHIP and Medicaid cover more than half of Hispanic children (52%) and Black children (56%), compared to one-quarter of Whites (26%) and Asian (25%) children” (Paradise, 2014). Children with special health care needs are the most likely group to be eligible for CHIP and Medicaid programs. According to a research study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chip covered 8.1 million children at a total cost of more than $13 billion in 2013, and the program has been instrumental in reducing the number of uninsured children “nationally from 10.7 million in 1997 to 6.6 million in 2013” (The Children Health Insurance 1).
Paradise’s research concluded that “Medicaid and CHIP have significantly expanded health coverage among the U.S. children and provided a coverage safety-net for children in working families during economic downturns. The programs now cover more than one-third of all children (37%) in the U.S.” (Paradise). A more recent 2017 study by Families USA concludes that “together CHIP and Medicaid cover 39 percent of children in the United States. Today CHIP covers nearly 9 million children” (Mahan). These research studies suggest that the trend of uninsured children is decreasing because of CHIP, and CHIP has helped reduce disproportions in coverage for low-income children and children of color.
Ensuring that all children have access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage is where most citizens and congressional leaders agree. CHIP participants “have much better access to primary and preventive care and fewer unmet health needs than uninsured children. Medicaid and CHIP programs have indeed expanded the health benefits for children. In some cases, CHIP even provides better services than private insurance when it comes to children’s health and development needs, such as speech therapy and dental health (Mahan). However, benefits do vary because of the flexibility states have in designing their CHIP programs. Federal guidelines mandate that all CHIP programs cover speech and language therapies, hearing test and hearing aids, pediatric benefits, and dental care (The Children’s Health Insurance Program; CHIP In Texas). States that do not have CHIP as part of a Medicaid expansion afford the state greater openings to adapt their CHIP program according to what they see as the children’s greatest needs. Paradise’s research found that all separate CHIP programs cover outpatient and inpatient mental health services, without limits, as well as substance abuse treatment, annual eye exams and coverage for glasses (Paradise). According to Texas-benefits.org, Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program “covers visits to doctors, necessary vaccines, any needed prescriptions, lab tests and x-rays (“CHIP in Texas”). Texas CHIP also includes any needed hospital care for qualified children” (“CHIP in Texas”.).
Dental coverage is another huge benefit for children. Dental disease is the most common childhood disease (Oral Health and Learning). Julia Paradise mentioned that “untreated dental problems cause pain, school absence, and missed work among parents” (Paradise, 2014). Oral disease decreases a child’s appetite and hinders their ability to pay attention in the classroom, which leads to school failure (Oral Health and Learning). Research presented by the US General Accounting Office’s publication, Oral Health: Dental Disease Is a Chronic Problem Among Low Income and Vulnerable Populations, concluded that “poor oral health can lead to decreased school performance, poor social relationships, and less success later in life. Children experiencing oral pain are distracted and unable to concentrate on schoolwork” (Ora; Health and Learning 1). David Keller, et al., concluded that children under CHIP or Medicaid are more likely to get preventive medical and dental care than privately insured children (Keller, et al).
It is apparent by the body of research done on CHIP that children who have CHIP are taking advantage of the program and more likely to seek preventative care (Lurie 1518). Ithai Zvi Lurie concludes her article, Differental Effects of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Expansions by Children’s Age, with the findings that physician visits did increase under CHIP, especially for post-elementary age children (Lurie, 2009). Routine physician visits by older children allow doctors the chance to educate these teens on risky behavior, proper diet, exercise, and birth control. It is also significant that children under CHIP are less likely to experience unmet medical needs. Paradise states that “in nine of ten studies cited in the Congressionally-mandated evaluation of CHIP, rates of unmet need were reduced by 50% or more” (Paradise), and Families USA makes similar claims (Mahan). However, statistical evidence regarding the actual impact of CHIP on the overall health of children is mixed. Julie Paradise’s research on Medicaid and CHIP completed in 2014 found that some studies show “a positive impact on health outcomes, including reductions in avoidable hospitalization and child mortality, while others show no impact on health” (Paradise). For example, one “national study found that a 10-percentage point increase in Medicaid/CHIP eligibility (e.g., from 30% of children in a state in a particular age group to 40%) resulted in a roughly 3% decline in child mortality” (Paradise). Paradise concludes that most low-income parents enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP appreciate the program and express a high degree of satisfaction with “the quality of care, the range of covered services, and affordability” (Paradise).
Since more children have their health care needs met under CHIP, it stands to reason that these children will have an increased chance of achieving greater success in school. Julia Paradise’s review of the research leads her to conclude that “there is evidence that improved health among Children with CHIP translates into educational gains with potentially positive implications for both individual economic well-being and overall economic productivity” (Paradise, 2014). Families USA also advocates that “children’s health, school performance, and future success in life are all linked” (Mahan). A study by Steven Shaw, et al. compared healthy children to unhealthy children. One of their conclusions was “unhealthy children are at higher risk for school problems, failing, or dropping out” (Steven, et al.). Common sense would suggest that since healthy children are more likely to attend school, and since attending school provides children with more opportunities to learn the material, healthy children are more likely to succeed in school. Success in school contributes to the child’s ability to become a productive adult. Few would debate the significant correlation between a child’s school performance and future success. Carolyn Schwarz and Earl Lui reviewed published articles which looked at the link between health insurance and school performance (Schwarz and Lui). They were led to draw the conclusions that “good health is connected with improved school performance and having health insurance is linked to better health” (Schwarz and Lui 1). The rational deduction to be made would be that children who are insured experience good health, and healthy children have a greater chance to succeed in school.
CHIP does, in fact, provide effective health care coverage to needy children and ensures that children get the needed health service necessary for them to succeed in life. A cumulated review of research examining the impact of CHIP on children’s health is positive and suggests that CHIP programs are advancing the goal of health coverage, that is better health. Kenney and Chang state it best: “By many different measure, SCHIP has been a success. It has provided health insurance coverage to millions of children and improved their access to care” (Kenney and Chang, 2014, p. 59). Unfortunately, uninsured children remain, and many of these children are eligible for CHIP. Better education of parents might be needed so these children can get the insurance services available through CHIP, and thus allow these children to receive the health care they need. Of course, financing for CHIP will always be an issue. States are likely to face funding issues as the federal government deals with their own large federal deficit, and congressmen must determine what federal money will support which programs.
“About Medicaid and CHIP.” Spoink. August 26, 2016. Accessed March 23, 2018, hhs.texas.gov/services/health/medicaid-chip/about-medicaid-chip.
“CHIP In Texas.” CHIP In Texas | Texas-Benefits.org. Accessed March 23, 2018, texas-benefits.org/Medicaid/Medicaid-CHIP.html.
David Keller, et al., “Kids with Medicaid, CHIP get more preventive care than those with private insurance,” JAMA Pediatrics, November 16, 2015,media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/kids-with-medicaid-chip-get-more-preventive-care-than-those-with-private-insurance/.
Kenney, G., and D. I. Chang. “The State Children’s Health Insurance Program: Successes, Shortcomings, And Challenges.” Health Affairs, vol. 23, no. 5, Jan. 2004, pp. 51–62., doi:10.1377/hlthaff.23.5.51.
Lurie, Ithai Zvi. “Differential Effect of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program Expansions by Childrens Age.” Health Services Research 44, no. 5p1 (2009): 1504-520. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2009.01005.x.
Mahan, Dee. “The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).” Families USA. October 10, 2017. Accessed March 23, 2018, familiesusa.org/product/children-health-insurance-program-chip.
Shaw, Steven R., Paul Gomes, Anna Polotaskaia, and Anna M. Jankowska. “The relationship between student health and academic performance: Implications for school psychologists,” School Psychology International, Vol 36, Issue 2 (2015), journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0143034314565425.
In 2012, a 25-year-old National Football League linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before committing suicide, leaving his infant daughter without parents. A year later, it was discovered that Belcher suffered from a degenerative brain disease that’s shockingly common among professional football players (Delsohn). Kyle Van Winkle, a new father and football fan, died outside of Arrowhead Stadium in 2013 after being assaulted by tailgaters (Babb, Rich). On the evening of the Philadelphia Eagle’s Super Bowl victory, celebratory riots wreaked havoc on the streets of Philadelphia, with people looting stores and breaking public property (Fedschun, Calicchio). None of these events are unique, and though they took place over the course of several years, they all share a common thread: the negligence of the National Football League.
The National Football League has become a paramount fixture in modern American culture. In 2015, the National Football League’s championship game, known as the Super Bowl, averaged 114.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in United States history (Pallotta). The NFL’s audience is immensely dedicated, with many Americans following a ritualistic routine on Sundays during football season. We gather with friends and family to eat our preferred grub (likely from a sponsor of the NFL) and watch the game while donning official merchandise in the name of team spirit. This support empowers the NFL, but the League has proven that it is not worthy of such power. The NFL has been negligent in exercising its influence over its audience, failing to ensure the safety of football lovers, fans and players alike, and this negligence has led to destruction and death.
Concussions and chronic trauma encephalopathy have made themselves known as the largest and deadliest threat to football players. Chronic trauma encephalopathy, commonly referred to as CTE, is a brain disease caused by concussions that has no existing treatment and can only be diagnosed postmortem. The Concussion Legacy Foundation, a group dedicated to raising awareness and researching CTE, defines the disease and some of its affects:
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. …Some common changes seen include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia. As the disease progresses, some patients may experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia.
The Foundation runs a brain bank where professionals like the director, Dr. Ann McKee, study donated brains in search of information on CTE. Through this process, Dr. McKee examined 111 brains of former NFL players. It was determined that 110—all but one—of the subjects had CTE. In many instances of NFL players committing violent crimes or suicide, a post-mortem examination of their brain results in the discovery of CTE, such as with Jovan Belcher. As previously mentioned, in 2012, 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Belcher murdered his girlfriend, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, before killing himself. When the family filed a suit against the NFL a year later, his body was exhumed and found to have signs of CTE (Delsohn). But even with prominent cases such as Belcher’s being reported, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees. When asked about player safety in regards to concussions and CTE in 2017, Goodell retorted that the average NFL player lives five years longer than others (Barrabi). Goodell didn’t offer a source for his information, nor did he clarify with whom the lifespans were being compared.
The NFL’s approach to concussions and related issues, such as CTE, negatively affects our local community as well. In 2016, KHOU reported on high school football player from the Woodlands, Grant Milton, who suffered from a brain injury that required the removal of part of his brain. Flippant remarks like those from Gooddell, the face of the most influential organization in American football, downplay the dangers of the sport and hinder progress towards making it a safer sport for players. Research like Dr. McKee’s clearly indicates that serious football players are at risk of developing CTE, but the NFL ignores this fact. Acknowledging the connection would open the door for lawsuits from players, both former and current, as well as their families, such as in the case of Jovan Belcher. Even if a NFL player does in fact live five years longer than an unknown average, those extra years are likely filled with health issues like dementia. The lack of respect for such a serious issue implies that the organization values money and reputation above the long-term quality of life of its players.
The life-threatening action isn’t restrained to the field either. In 2016, Joe Bauer took his wife to the M&T Band Stadium in Baltimore to support the Ravens. Joe got into an argument with a fan of the opposing team, the Raiders, which escalated, resulting in the Raider’s fan punching Bauer. Bauer fell and hit his head, causing a serious brain injury that threatened his life. While the NFL has implemented tools to help ensure the safety of fans in the stadiums, including an anonymous text message line to report inappropriate behavior, there’s violence within parking lots as well that they have failed to effectively address. One man, Kyle Van Winkle, died in 2013 after being assaulted by several men in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot. When others went to go look for help during the assault, they could not find any officials. The NFL claimed that there were almost 500 arrests in the parking lots of stadiums in 2015 alone, yet in the year of Van Winkle’s death, security was nowhere to be found (Babb, Rich).
The NFL is aware the issue of fan violence at its venues, but have only tried to fix it with retroactive methods, such as texting hotlines. Current employees for the security department do not make public statements about it, despite former employees voicing concerns about the fan temperament in stadiums and parking lots. People who go to stadiums instead of simply watching at home bring in a lot of revenue—they pay for tickets, parking, food, drinks, and often merchandise. Releasing a public statement risks alienating rowdy, passionate fans like those at the Arrowhead Stadium in 2016, and that is not a financial risk the NFL is willing to take. When someone purchases a ticket for a NFL game though, they likely don’t know just how dangerous the crowd may get, and they assume security will be there to protect them if things do get a bit out of hand. The League and the individual teams continue to deny responsibility for these events, but they have also failed to inform their audience of the risks of attending a game, ultimately disregarding their safety.
In February of 2018, Philadelphia streets were flooded with fans celebrating the victory of the city’s team, the Philadelphia Eagles, at the Super Bowl. During the celebrations on the streets, people looted stores and even flipped over a car. Fans tore down light poles, jumped onto awnings, and climbed onto buildings. Luckily, only three arrests were reported with no fatalities, only leaving behind a giant mess with no estimate of the monetary value of damage (Fedschun, Calicchio). This was not the first celebratory riot of this nature. Some years, riots are prevented by police intervention, with hundreds of officers monitoring streets in the cities of the two teams that make it to the big game. Seattle was not so fortunate in 2014, when riots following the Super Bowl resulted in 25,000 dollars of damage to a historic building, a glass pergola. As seventeen panes worth of glass covered the ground surrounding the pergola, people burned furniture in intersections and threw bottles at police officers. Six people were arrested, a surprisingly small number compared to the thousands of rioters that rampaged that night (Dejohn).
Violent trends noticed in the stadiums can affect not only the surrounding communities, but the communities of the participating teams’ origin as well, even when they are miles apart—the 2018 Super Bowl took place in Minneapolis, not Philadelphia. The police in these communities have to prepare for events that may not even occur, potentially directing resources away from emergencies. The NFL does not discourage these destructive celebrations, nor does it dedicate any of its coveted Super Bowl commercial time to remind fans to respect their communities. A service announcement to viewers as a reminder to respect their communities could be effective in reducing the scale of the riots, but the NFL doesn’t feel the need to do so, especially when it would take the place of a paid advertisement. This follows the trend of the organization’s continued refusal to use its platform to prevent violence.
Fans may agree with the League’s opinion that riots and fights are due to violent, often drunk fans and are not the responsibility of the NFL. The mentality behind this belief is valid; people are responsible for their own actions. However, it is a narrow-minded way of looking at the issue. The NFL is a multibillion dollar company because of the supporters, and they could easily invest some of that revenue into ensuring a safer environment. By publicly condemning rioters, the NFL may lose some support, but it may make fans think twice before acting recklessly.
The National Football League may be negligent, but that just means there are many opportunities for improvement. Roger Goodell will inevitably be replaced as commissioner, and his successor will have a chance to bring humanity into the organization. The NFL needs people in power who are free to speak out and fight for the safety of the community of fans that have made the League what it is today. As CTE research continues, the League will be forced to admit to the serious threat it poses to its players. Groups like NFL Players Association (the players union) and the Concussion Legacy Foundation can work with the NFL to devise ways to reduce concussions on a professional level, which would have a ripple effect on the approach to all levels of football. Ultimately, if the NFL continues to fail to address these issues, the American people could create a new competitive league. America’s love for football goes beyond the National Football League, which is successful because of our nation’s love for community and prime athleticism. This passion is what will make it possible to find solutions to the deadly environment of the NFL.
Babb, Kent and Rich, Steven. “Fan Violence and How to Contain It.” The Washington Post, 28