Editing classics not OK
Jan11

Editing classics not OK

Imagine walking into the Louvre, the world famous art museum in Paris. There, with golden lighting casting shadows on the gray stone, you see the Venus de Milo. She is exactly like you have seen in photos – except one thing. She now stands with an evening gown covering her bare stone body. What about viewing Michalangelo’s David while the marble statue king wears a pair of Joe Boxers? Defilement? Blasphemy of art? Artistic integrity is not important to the publisher releasing new versions of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They have edited the classic Twain novels to be more polite, replacing “injun” and the n-word with “Indian” and “slave,” respectively. But who can say using the term “slave” in its place is really respectful at all? The novel was written in a time when prejudice was the norm in America. Since then, blood has been spilled to rectify the path of hatred that those before us created. To edit out the context of the time period erases the cause that so many fought for. The proponents of the new editions claim to be helping students. Their goal is to provide literature in classrooms that are apparently unable to handle these terrible words and a portrait of our history. Part of that sentiment is cavalier. Students should be reading great works of literature. But at what point in censorship do the works no longer hold the value the author intended? The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath are not only famous for narratives. They give a glimpse of life in the time periods where they are set. Twain’s work has always done the same by capturing an accurate historical context of the stories. To edit it is to lie to students about pre-Civil War America. Are high school students not able to handle racial slurs? Classrooms are filled with pupils who spend their free time playing profanity-laced video games like Call of Duty. They watch explicit Judd Apatow films and listen to music about sexual escapades on the public radio waves (where songs with the n-word are prevalent). They even “sext” pictures of themselves to each other. Is adult content only allowed when it comes to entertainment? Apparently. Looking at racism for the sake of education? Well, the publisher thinks that just cannot be tolerated. Advocates say that students become so distracted by the words in the text, they can’t appreciate the story. If that’s true, then the students need to grow up. How will they ever mature if what might push their preconceived notions is struck from their experience? Religion classes in college are...

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A holy place in Texas
Dec14

A holy place in Texas

A star hovers over a small town in the Texas hill country. An electric cable winds up a telephone pole to power the glowing white lights that adorn the hanging beacon. The soft glow in the bitter winter chill calls the estimated 27,000 people who will view the young couple and newborn baby who sit beneath it’s glow. Main Street Bethlehem turns 21st century Burnet, Texas into a realistic interpretation of what life during the birth of Christ might have been like. “We started this in 1993,” said Norman Leftwich, the unofficial event director for the last 18 years. “The first year it was built with temporary buildings and cloth and we took it down after. By 1999, we had every building permanent and the wall around the outside of the complex.” The plot where the stone and plaster buildings have risen throughout the years belongs to First Baptist Church Burnet, and most of the people who work on the event attend there. Leftwich and his wife Frankie are integral to the success of the event and many of the goats, birds and other livestock live on their ranch during the offseason. But the Leftwich family are not the only contributors. In fact, everything in the village from buildings and chickens to the cookies and refreshments are from contributions. “All is done by donation, First Baptist Church lets us use the property and they of course contribute in many ways, but it has never been on the budget,” said Leftwich. “Our cave where the holy family stays is a pretty imposing structure built of concrete and steel. A member who makes and designs swimming pools for upper class clients built it to look like real stone. It’s very impressive.” Within the walls, caves and stone buildings, about 150 people get in costume to portray shoppers, shopkeepers, soldiers, travelers, tax collectors and of course Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. But the number of people on the inside of the wall can’t compete with the number that stretches around the streets of Burnet, waiting in line to see the simulation. Leftwich estimates a total of 27,000 people that will walk through the gates of Bethlehem over the six nights it is open this year. The city police have to monitor and guide the twisting line as is awakens the sleepy, rural town. Dr. Ricky Guenther, pastor of First Baptist, sees the event as a mission opportunity to reach all the pilgrims who come to see the display. It is also a highlight for him during the Christmas season. “It was overwhelming at first when I started working here three years ago,...

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Memorial and convention sparks thought at Fort Hood
Nov22

Memorial and convention sparks thought at Fort Hood

A year after Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire on troops and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas, leaders and even former terrorists spoke out Sunday against the dangers of extremist Islam, just miles from the site of the tragedy. Radio host Lynn Woolley was the master of ceremonies for the event, which attempted to shine light on potential extremist threats. “What are we here for if not to combat political correctness?” Woolley asked the crowd. Many traveled from other states to attend the event. The conference was sponsored by the International Counter-Terror Officer’s Association, an organization created by members of the New York City Police Department after Sept. 11, 2001. It was presented by the Forum for Middle East Understanding. Keith Davies is the executive director of the forum and organized the event to open eyes to an enemy he thinks has been hidden from Americans under the name of political correctness. He related America today to the nation’s unwillingness to take a stand against Nazi Germany in the 1930s. “We are in a similar situation today where the minority are in the right and the majority are in the wrong,” he said. Lt. Gen. (ret.) William G. Boykin and Pentagon expert on Islamic law, Maj. Stephen Coughlin were the first to speak at the conference about the dangers of extremist Islamic beliefs from a military perspective. Coughlin has briefed military and federal leaders throughout the country. Later, Robert Spencer, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gave more insight on the law of Islam. He also said that it is impossible to separate the religion from the political movement. The most dramatic speeches were by Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat. Both were former terrorists who came to America to try and win converts. Instead, while here, they both were converted to Christianity. Now they spend their time speaking and writing about the horrors they have seen and the Islamic plan to achieve “peace” – when every person is a Muslim. Saleem said that Islamic influence and Sharia law have already come to America. “The Islamic centers of America are the Sharia centers of America, and they have already been built,” he said. Shoebat emphasized this point even more dramatically. “Don’t mess with Texas is a myth,” he said. “They messed with Texas a year ago and you have done...

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AMC adds brains to zombie genre

Zombies are alive. The television adaptation of Robert Kirkland’s graphic novel Walking Dead is turning heads and attracting a mass of viewers to the cable channel that used to primarily show classic movies starring actors who often had already died. It’s the perfect setting for a zombie takeover. AMC has already found success with dramatic hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but a show about the undead seems ambitious even for them. But with Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont and Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd behind the scenes, the show’s creative resume is more than impressive. Darabont’s Shawshank experience is not the sole source of the Stephen King feel the show gives. Instead of chaotic and constant barrage of enemies, Walking Dead is a show more about isolation than anarchy. As a character rides a horse on an empty highway into Atlanta, viewers familiar with The Stand and The Gunslinger can’t help but see a strong influence from those works. Dead is somewhere between a survival movie and a western, with the modern world turned into an untamable, desolate wasteland. The series follows Sheriff Rick Grimes, who awakes from a coma to find that the town he once had                                          jurisdiction over is now run by flesh- eating corpses. A gunshot wound in the first act causes him to sleep through whatever led to the mass spread of some horrible        disease. Viewers don’t know how the outbreak happened or how the vast majority of all people were killed, but, like the sheriff, they are thrust into the remains of the former life. Grimes’ biggest hope is to find his wife and son, who viewers learn is hiding out with his deputy Shane. The strained wife has assumed the sheriff is dead. She copes with her grief in the arms of the deputy, setting up a fierce and inevitable conflict between the lawmen. Grimes is portrayed by Andrew Lincoln, who told the Los Angeles Times that the desire to play a zombie-fighting cowboy was too strong of a temptation to resist. “I went to work, and I put on cowboy boots, a Stetson, a bag of guns, and got on a horse called Blade and rode into an apocalyptic Atlanta,” Lincoln said in his interview with the Times. “That was my job for the day, and it was    astonishing.” What makes Walking Dead special is that it is among a very small group of zombie works not so much about the zombies. They are a backdrop to more intimate stories – a broken family – a father and son grieving the loss of a mother – a racist’s life in the...

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Entrepreneur brings snow cones to Belton community
Nov16

Entrepreneur brings snow cones to Belton community

The neon sign on the Frosti Cones steel building blinks the letters O-P-E-N. The handmade deck and awning wrap around the pre-fabricated walls, creating a self-contained half ring in the corner of the Belton Summer Fun water park asphalt lot. Paul Marguglio stands behind the counter, another round of his life in full swing. His friend Brian McKay works the shaved ice machine for a customer, as a recent warm front has driven up his business again. McKay’s quiet and hardworking demeanor makes him the perfect partner to Marguglio, like a boxer’s corner man, ready to help and advise. Although November isn’t the prime selling month for ice cream and snow cones, Marguglio is not discouraged. He’s a fighter. “This was a spur-of-the moment idea. It was a risk and I took it,” he said. “It’s worked out for me.” The shop sits just 1.5 miles from campus, and has become a choice destination for students looking to soothe their sweet tooth since it opened in May 2010. “Good prices and good food; especially the Frosti Cone,” said sophomore business major Will Samford. Marguglio comes from a strong Italian family in Philadelphia. He spent his youth learning how to work with his hands from his father and spending time in the kitchen with his mother. But Marguglio found trouble in high school. Drinking led to drugs. The substance abuse got more frequent and more damaging. Thanks to his intuitive nature and friends in strong places, Marguglio found a good way to sustain his habit. He started selling. He had enough. As an early 20-something he was addicted and depressed. His solution was a drastic one. He drove as fast as he could on a dark road, reaching 100 miles per hour. He had learned to drive fast while pursuing an exhilarating hobby in racing. This time, his speed was not to feel alive, but to face death quickly. He locked his arms on the steering wheel, ready to swerve head first into oncoming traffic. But he couldn’t. “I wound up driving down the road, and I came up to a church,” he said. It was the same church his mother attended, and for some reason unknown to Marguglio, the doors were open, even though it was late at night. “I walked down the center of the aisle and I sat down in the center of the pews. I started crying and asking God for help. A gentleman walked in the back of the church. I was so ashamed I couldn’t even lift my head to see who entered,” he said.“I didn’t care, even if it was the cops and...

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