When is a Gun not a Gun?

Jay Feely’s homage to the “Reggie” scene from Bad Boys 2 drew ire over the weekend.

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Let’s look at the image through three lenses: comedic value, civic value, and family value.

Comedic value

In less than 2 days, Jay’s post received 132K likes.  But here’s a better litmus test: if you have to explain that you were joking, you probably missed the mark.

As our national dialogue concerning guns in schools unfolds, this prom season is one of the least funny times to be juxtaposing firearms and high school events.  To thrive as kicker in the NFL for 14 years, Jay’s sense of timing needed to be extraordinary.  Clearly, one’s sense of physical timing does not necessarily translate into comedic timing.

Civic value

Jay identifies himself as a “CBS Sports NFL/college football analyst” on his Twitter page.  Jay’s bio on the CBS Sports web page shows that he received “Man of the Year” honors from four different NFL teams and is hailed as an active member of the philanthropic community.  Jay’s heart certainly seems to be in the right place.

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By posing with a gun as a joke, Jay’s is perpetuating the myth that it’s okay to do so.  Let’s take Jay’s word that, to the best of his knowledge, the gun was unloaded and did not have a clip.  Other gun owners might not be as careful.  Add alcohol to the scene – to more completely emulate Will Smith from the movie scene – and the risk profile degrades further.  This is just not the type of behavior that should be encouraged.

Family value

Jay appears to be completely tone deaf to the situation.  This was his daughter’s prom!

Everyone in the picture has a path to choose to moving forward.  Here’s my recommendation for each:

  • Jay: Rid your house of guns; period.  Guns are guns.  Guns are never not guns.  You’ve gotten away with (at least) one mistake of treating a gun like a comedic prop in the presence of your precious daughter and her boyfriend.  Wake up, realize that you’ve just proven that you’re not as committed to gun safety as you espouse, and take action that will make your home gun safe from an accidental gun incident.
  • Jay’s daughter: Smack your dad upside the head.  This was your day, not his.  You have even bigger days in the future; so, take the opportunity to draw a bright line for acceptable behavior moving forward.  He may still pay the bills, but that does not prevent you from being an adult.  You don’t need this sh*t on your wedding day.
  • Jay’s daughter’s date: Don’t be going over to the Feely house, anymore.  Period.  Your date’s dad demonstrated questionable judgment in bringing a gun into the picture (pun intended).  You don’t need to risk what might happen next time there’s gun play in the house.  There are plenty of other fish in the sea, so paddle away to calmer waters.  Your parents want you casting shadows on the daisies, not vice-versa.
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“It’s Just a Country Boy Thing”

I believe that we should have a right to express our allegiance to whatever flag we choose….or NOT! There is no doubt that the Confederate flag is a staunch reminder that this country was (is) divided by the North and South, East coast and West coast. What I do not understand is that the KKK can set up marches and protests but the Confederate flag must be taken down?  I know that one is not necessarily connected to the other but somewhere along the line, they are indicative of some of the same values or at least, it seems that way from where I stand!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for the Confederate flag but I am asking just how different are the values of those who wave that flag and the historically oppressive supporters of the Star Spangled Banner? Democracy is a work in progress so I get it that we do not always get it! I do believe that despite the ugly stigma attached the Confederate flag, those who pledge allegiance to it, should have the right to do so without retribution, even if I vehemently disagree for all that it stands for. Just do not expect me to stand for it!

Confederate flag-bearing trucks met with opposition outside Bay City Western High

Student says Confederate flag theft sparked protests

A student who led a two-day demonstration outside of his central Michigan high school this week said it was in response to the unpunished theft of a Confederate battle flag from his pickup truck.

Cameron Myers, an 18-year-old senior at Bay City Western High School, an overwhelmingly white high school about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Detroit in Auburn, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he complained to school officials that someone had cut the large Confederate flag from a pole on his truck, but no one was disciplined. He then took to friends on social media, asking them to fly their own flags outside the school.

“It all started because my flag was destroyed and nothing was done about it,” said Myers. “I said to ‘fly whatever flag you have at home.’ Everybody here has the Confederate flag. It’s a country boy thing where it’s in their garages, bedrooms, windows.”

On Tuesday, about five to eight trucks with Confederate flags parked across from the school, where only about seven of the roughly 1,200 students are black. There were about 20 parked vehicles on Wednesday, and they were met by students who staged a counter-demonstration by waving rainbow flags and placards with messages including “Black Lives Matter” and “Hate Not Heritage.”

Although Myers says he’s not racist and that his protest shouldn’t be seen as such, some students at the school, where more than 94 percent of students are white, saw it otherwise.

“We’re a white-majority school,” Kendrix Szilagyi told the Bay City Times on Wednesday. “It’s making some of the students and people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.”

School officials said most of the pro-Confederate flag demonstrators weren’t students at the school, but Myers disagreed, saying all but one went to Bay City Western.

Administrators canceled classes Thursday at the high school and an adjoining middle school due to reported threats. But Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham said the reports apparently started with “one student hearing from another student and passed around on social media.”

Eventually, the information that “people were coming over to Bay City Western to confront students” made its way to the high school’s principal, said the school district superintendent, Stephen Bigelow. He said both schools planned to reopen Friday.

Efforts to remove Confederate flags from public places as symbols of national division and black oppression accelerated after violence during a white supremacist rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Myers said he’s not racist and that his demonstration shouldn’t be seen as such. He also said he hasn’t received any threats due to the flag demonstrations.

“I didn’t think it would go this far,” he added, saying that in hindsight he might have taken a different approach.

Myers’ grandmother, Lynn Boyce, said everything has been “blown out of proportion.”

“These boys are rednecks,” Boyce said of Cameron and his friends. “The Confederate flag does not mean anything racist to them. We’re not racists.”

She believes whoever stole Myers’ flag from his truck is really to blame for the trouble. She also said her grandson and his friends weren’t planning on protesting again on Friday.

Cunningham said his department is investigating the theft of Myers’ flag.

“We believe his flag was taken down or his truck might have been keyed,” he said. “We’re just monitoring the situation closely, working with other law enforcement, making sure nothing turns violent, nobody gets hurt and education isn’t disrupted.”

Bigelow said the school district is also trying to get to the bottom of it.

“High school students sometimes make terrible decisions,” he said.

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Can You Dig It?

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I believe in the stance that Civil Rights leaders have taken and understand that some of the largest paradoxes I have become aware of is learning the MLK was called a communist for not wanting war, was told that wanting equal rights made him an “uncle Tom”.  Malik El Hajj Shabazz (Malcolm X) was safer as a segregationist but his life was in peril and short-lived once he advocated for integration.

I try not to stray with my writing. I was told that I am not an academic writer by  one of my professors (I agree).  The truth may not be told because of being in academia, it is told by those unafraid to speak it. Those that will unabashedly describe what is uncomfortable to hear.  We fight for intellectual turf that may or may not belong to our genuine sense of thinking.  How eloquently a point of view is stated or what syllables are joined to describe the argument, may  or may not be attributed to attendance in a class of higher education but that is conformity to think alike (sometimes) but the point is the point.  Can you dig it?

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Solutions…

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During this past semester, I have been focusing this blog on the gun violence issue plaguing our country.  The main theme and take home message has usually been that we need change and both sides of this issue need to talk and compromise so better safeguards are put into place to protect the youth of this country from these senseless acts of gun violence.

There have been many proposed solutions coming from both sides, from stricter gun legislation to arming teachers in the classrooms. But these proposals are not moving forward quickly enough to protect children today.  Trying to get better gun policy written into federal law is an uphill battle that is going to take time (something the youth of this country may not have).  Some believe that arming teachers to act as another layer of security is the answer but this proving not to be the best course of action as the recent arrest of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school chemistry teacher, Sean Simpson,marjory-stoneman-douglas-sean-simpson-696x522 this past week indicates. Other incidents have occurred around the country where teachers have accidentally discharged firearms and have injured students.   Guns in the hands of teachers/students on school property is dangerous and has more potential for harm than protection of the children. This is an issue being debated by current NRA members/supporters for whether the AR-15 should be banned.

Maybe another solution is to take a closer look at established gun legislation that has been proven to be effective.  The gun laws currently in place in the most densely populated state in the country, the state that has the rap for being the Soprano state, where bad reality TV is made, and is often referred to as the armpit of America, that’s right, New Jersey may have the solution.

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New Jersey,  has one of the most strict gun policies and legislation in the country and is moving forward to put 6 new gun measures into law to tighten gun policy that was rolled back during the last administration. (The package includes new restrictions on bullets, background checks and magazine sizes.) Phil Murphy (New Jersey’s new governor) has been dedicated to re-establishing former gun policy that was loosened during Chris Christie’s two terms.  Governor Murphy is swiftly spearheading common sense gun reform to add more restrictive gun laws in New Jersey since he took office in January this year.

State level legislation is not nearly as complex as on the federal level but it does appear that the NJ gun laws do have merit and have been proven to work within the a state that has the population density of 13 times the national average.  It may be surprising to know that there has never been a mass shooting in a school or any other public facility in the state.

These facts should carry some serious weight with this ongoing national gun reform debate.  New Jersey has an opportunity to change its national reputation for being the armpit of American and lead by example for how to effectively enact common sense gun reform to protect its tax paying, law abiding citizens. As a New Jersey native who has benefited from living under these laws (and perhaps have taken these protections for granted), I hope the rest of the country can soon feel the same security that I do.

 

 

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Not a Fan of the Process but I love my Team

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To be honest, I was never a fan of the “Process” i.e. Losing on purpose so that you can increase the chances that your team picks higher in the annual NBA Draft.  “The Process”, affectionately dubbed by the passionate fans of all things Philadelphia, has made national news because in this instance, it appears to have worked.  As a fan who labored through those seasons and attended games, I can tell you that I hate the “process”.

The truth of the matter is, the savvy moves made before the season (JJ. Redick) and during the season by GM Jerry Colangelo, signing two veteran players from overseas, Ersan Illyasova and Marco Belinelli were the difference in this team making such a prolific run!

The Philadelphia 76ers have taken a page out of the Eagles playbook (pun intended) and made team chemistry a priority.  It’s all about the culture in an organization!  Regardless where this team ends up when the season is over, they have given pride and passion back to a city that is becoming renown for teams where culture eats strategy for lunch! Oh……….and WINNING!

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The Flower Children of the 21st Century: Tweeters and Grammers

Indio, California: population 88, 484. Indio, California during two back to back weekends in April every year: population 88,484 plus 125,000 visitors coming and going. The Coachella Arts and Music Festival has been flooding the town, and surrounding desert on a consecutive basis since 2001. The festival, which was once one day has grown to three day line up that occurs twice over the span of consecutive weekends. Accounting for festival, camp ground and parking sites it extends over 600 acres, into the Colorado desert. People from all walks of life come to experience the music, the food, the art and the partying. While Coachella’s growth can be contributed to the talent of it’s artists and performers, a likely larger contribution to that growth can be credited to the social media presence festival goers bring with them.

Who wouldn’t want to go to a place where people are posting pictures like this:

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CBS Los Angeles

Food. Music. Art. Anything goes disposition. It’s the definition of an adult playground.

Then there is the envious fashion. While the art was originally not intended to be worn, Coachella has become a fashion show in it’s own right. Famous people and not- yet- discovered fashion enthusiast alike use the event to strut their stuff in the latest  trends. Major companies hone in on these individuals wearing their “festival” clothing and capitalize on low cost advertising. The followers of these people and these companies start fantasizing about what they’ll wear when they decide to attend next year.

And then, there’s the Beyonce of it all. If you haven’t seen it, below is only half of the festivals most powerful performance to date:

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The  internet has lost their collective mind and dubbed this years festival #Beychella. Here is some feedback, from some highly influential, highly followed individuals regarding the performance. This type of hype shouldn’t have any effect on ticket sales next year…. none whatsoever….

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A Subscription to Facebook…

Image: Google.com

So, would you, or wouldn’t you?  Does a subscription to Facebook – a once free online social media platform – sound like something you’d invest in?  If so, what’s the cut-off?  How much would you be willing to pay in order to stay connected?  And what about your friends?  Family?  Do you think they’d open up a subscription in order to keep logging in?

In response to the backlash Mark Zuckerberg has been facing regarding data privacy, Facebook is considering whether offering an ad-free subscription option would be a viable solution.  This all stems from recent findings that the personal data found on many users’ profiles (more like, several million user profiles) has been unknowingly collected and sold to various ad agencies in hopes of better targeting desired markets.

The very presence of these targeted ads, however, are what make the site free for its users.  Zuckerberg maintains, that even after learning of the various uses of their data, the general public, would still choose an ad-infused version of Facebook.  “Overall,” he says, “I think that the ads experience is going to be the best one. I think in general, people like not having to pay for a service. A lot of people can’t afford to pay for a service around the world, and this aligns with our mission the best.”

If the company were to offer a non-ad subscription option, users would have to pay anywhere in the neighborhood of $7-$11 per month, depending on where they’re located.  As it is right now, Facebook does allow users (and has for a while) to opt-in/out of some apps, which further stimulate the targeted ads.

So I ask you, ‘Would a subscription fee to use Facebook deter you from using the platform, or would it empower you with the ability to choose, and therefore entice you?’

 

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