Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Westboro disrespects military

Westboro Baptist has found its way back into the national spotlight by reportedly picketing the funeral of American hero, Chris Kyle. The church released a press release that stated, “WBC to picket memorial for mass murderer AKA Navy SEALs sniper Chris Kyle at  Cowboy Stadium.” The group planned to protest by pickets, taunts and hate signs. Reports say that protesters were in fact seen in Arlington with their usual offensive signs, speaking out against homosexuality and the military. The funeral procession honoring the American hero, who was noted as having the most confirmed sniper kills in the history of the U.S. military, started in Midlothian and ended at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Westboro Baptist achieved national attention in the court case Snyder v. Phelps, which came before the Supreme Court in 2010. The church won the case and has continued its distasteful picketing. Freedom of speech was the main discussion in this court case and eventually the reason it went Westboro’s way. However, simply because something is legal by law does not make it morally acceptable. The people from WBC may be taking advantage of their freedom of speech bestowed upon all Americans, but they are definitely abusing this freedom, a freedom that Kyle spent most of his life protecting along with the rest of the U.S. military. The majority of Americans give little respect to anything these protesters say because they picket around funerals holding offensive signs such as “Soldiers die; God laughs.” Funerals are a sacred time when we as humans lay our kind to rest. Saying anything negative about that person at or around a funeral is not going to be accepted. Thankfully, as the funeral procession worked its way through Texas, countless supporters crowded around I-35 to pay their respects to an American hero, and the hate and disrespect of WBC faded into the background. If they don’t agree with homosexuality, they have a right to say so according to the Supreme Court ruling, but shouldn’t disrespect the greatest military in the world. And if they’re going to protest, they should do so in a way that does not dishonor dead soldiers. Otherwise, they are just wasting their breath and upsetting countless mourning families along with those who respect the work our military does to keep America...

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Group makes peace with chicken
Feb15

Group makes peace with chicken

There was almost no escaping the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A last summer, and it had nothing to do with their signature chicken sandwich. But recent news of an unsuspecting friendship marks hope for reconciliation, acting as a call to peace. After COO Dan Cathy’s statements defending what he believed to be a biblical definition of marriage, a fire storm soon ensued, drawing divisive lines that went deeper than spicy verses original. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups claimed that the restaurant chain encouraged hatred toward the homosexual community. Others came to the company’s defense. While the media proliferated the debate for months, Cathy and one of the leaders of the brigade against Chick-fil-A, founder and executive director of Campus Pride Shane Windmeyer, were taking the time to get to know each other through phone calls, text messages and personal meetings. After keeping it mostly under wraps, Windmeyer recently came out about the relationship, giving hope that perhaps members of both sides of the argument can not only be civil, but maybe, just maybe, even like each other. Something we can all learn from. Though neither of the men have given up their support of what they believe is right, their friendship is proof that differing perspectives don’t have to be the building blocks for walls between people. Campus Pride has now suspended its campaign against Chick-fil-A, but Windmeyer admits that as a gay man and LGBT advocate, he harbored a lot of anger toward Cathy. In a blog for the Huffington Post, he said, “How could I dare think to have a relationship with a man and a company that have advocated against who I am….?” However, when the restaurant mogul extended an olive branch with a simple phone call, Windmeyer accepted. The pair engaged in conversation about their lives and beliefs, and soon realized that perhaps, their differences could be overlooked. Their friendship should be a lesson to us all. In a time when politics, religion, social issues, war and a million other things threaten to divide people, it’s encouraging to see that two men, who have seemingly little in common, and champion opposing causes, can choose to find some common ground. Often, today’s hot button issues place people in two distinctive groups – for or against. And while it’s OK, and even admirable, to stand for what you believe in, we should be careful not to allow a difference in opinion to create enemies among us. Windmeyer said, “We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.” The keys, he said, were a commitment to mutual respect, trust and communication. Through this,...

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A drink from the past

Water is often described as being one the fundamental building blocks of life, and it is known as nature’s perfect liquid. It is the most consumed beverage on the planet. The majority of people enjoy their water straight, and if  the weather is hot, then it is often chilled with pieces of frozen water in it. Throughout history, however, man has developed several ways to spruce up water. There is not one drink on earth that is not at least some part water. Soda and juice are simple mixtures of sugar water and flavoring. Coffee is just hot water that has been filtered through ground beans. Beer is just barley that has been fermented in water and then filtered out. Even milk is just a mix of several proteins and vitamins swirled into water. All of the aforementioned ways of sprucing up water are familiar and preferred, but they are not the most popular. The most common way for people to enhance their water is to heat and strain it through dried leaves and create a beverage known as tea. Every year humans consume a staggering four million metric tons of tea. The average tea bag contains about two grams of dried tea leaf. That means the consumption of tea is two trillion cups per year, which is 285 cups of tea per person. Tea is quite an old beverage, but is certainly not the oldest beverage. Humans drank beer and milk thousands of years before they discovered tea. The earliest record of tea is from 1500 B.C. in China during the period of the Shang Dynasty. It was consumed for medicinal purposes and not recreational. Tea remained in the East for nearly 2,000 years. It was not until the 1500s that Portuguese merchants brought tea to the West. Today most Americans prefer coffee to tea. Whenever tea is consumed, it is usually with ice and sweetened with sugar, which is the opposite of how the rest of the world drinks it. Despite its loss in popularity over the years, tea played an important role in  American history. In the mid-1700s England raised the tax on tea. A group from Boston retaliated by disguising themselves as Indians and dumping a large shipment of tea into the harbor in an event known as the Boston Tea Party. Part of the reason for the popularity of tea is that it is grown on every continent. The largest producers of tea are India and China, which are also the largest consumers of the product. Half of the tea in the world is consumed in India and China. Camellia sinensis is the scientific...

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Single on Valentine’s

Roses are red, violets are blue. You hate Valentine’s day? I do too. Lock your doors and close your windows because a storm of lovey dovey Facebook posts and tweets will soon barrage social media. Frankly, few people actually care how much you “heart” your boo, or your shawty or whatever culturally acceptable term of endearment you use for the love of your life. The fourteenth of February, or as I like to call it, Singles’ Awareness Day, brings doom and gloom to a good percentage of the loveless population. This horrific holiday is the only time it’s socially acceptable for single ladies across the globe to shovel embarrassing amounts of chocolate ice cream into their mouths while watching an overemotional Channing Tatum film. This fact alone almost makes the day bearable. In the past, we offered Valentine’s advice for couples. But for those of you who can’t seem to get shot by Cupid, this one is for you. Here are just a few suggestions to cure your loneliness, at least temporarily. First option: ignorance  is bliss. If you want to avoid the occasion altogether, just pretend it isn’t happening. Those are not roses on your coworker’s desk. Those are not balloons in your roommate’s room. The chocolate everywhere? That’s for you, just for being awesome. In fact, all of the festivities make up a terrible dream that will soon vanish. Ignore the happiness, and it will not overtake you. I promise. For those who can’t carry on this fantastic facade, embrace your singleness. As a second solution, you can find some other sad souls. Misery loves company, and I guarantee you will feel better by the end of the night. If Cupid hasn’t struck yet, maybe he can’t see your target. Work your single swag. Option three: fake it until you make it. If love can’t seem to find you, find it. Friend dates on Valentine’s Day can be fun for both people. Even if there is no romantic chemistry, find a buddy and make the best of the day. With a friend sitting across from you, the holiday will pass with almost no pressure and far fewer tears. And the two of you can discuss your failed relationships. You obviously have that in common. So instead of dwelling on the fact that you still don’t have a ring on your finger, let that be a conversation-starter. If all of these things fail, do not lose hope. When you’re sitting on your couch, rocking back and forth and thinking happy thoughts, remember one thing. There’s always the dating site  farmersonly.com....

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Woman’s execution halted

A Dallas judge postponed the execution of a Texas woman who would have been the first woman put to death in the U.S. since 2010. State District Judge Larry Mitchell halted the execution of Kimberly McCarthy after an appeal by McCarthy’s lawyers that focused on whether the jury that convicted and sentenced her to death was selected improperly based on race. The jury was made up of 11 white people and one black person. McCarthy is black. McCarthy, 51, was convicted and faced lethal injection for the 1997 beating, stabbing and robbery of her 71-year-old neighbor in Lancaster, Texas. Evidence showed that McCarty phoned her neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar. Instead of retrieving it,  McCarthy was convicted of assaulting her neighbor, stabbing her with a knife, beating her with a candle holder and severing her ring finger to steal a wedding ring. Prosecutors presented evidence that tied McCarthy to similar slayings of two other women in Dallas in December 1988, which sealed the deal for the jury that McCarthy    was guilty. McCarthy’s lawyer said that “of the twelve jurors seated at trial, all were white, except one, and eligible non-white jurors were excluded from serving by the state….These facts must be understood in the context of the troubling and long-standing history of racial discrimination in jury selection.” The DA’s office had called the effort a “mere delay” tactic, saying the record didn’t support a legal claim for discrimination. Are the defense attorneys procrastinating to buy McCarthy more time? Or are they genuinely concerned that there is evidence of racial discrimination against her? It’s hard to tell if the jury sentenced her to death because of her race or of her crimes. The basis of racial discrimination should not be allowed in the courtroom. If a person committed a crime, he or she should be punished fairly. The Declaration of Independence, an official U.S. document, states that all men are created equal, which should hold the same amount of power in a U.S. courtroom. Some believe that the death penalty should not be used in the case of a female defendant, while others argue that all criminals should be punished for their crimes. McCarthy would have been the 13th woman executed in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation’s busiest death penalty state, since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. During that same time period, 1,300 male inmates have been executed nationwide. McCarthy is one of 10 women currently on death row in Texas, but only one with an execution date, or who had an execution date. No doubt this punishment for...

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War in Syria doesn’t appear to end soon
Jan29

War in Syria doesn’t appear to end soon

Americans love a story about rebellion. This is why Star Wars is so popular. When revolutions for democracy unfold across the globe, we watch with keen interest Revolution is in our blood, of course. Every child is taught in school about how George Washington and the Continental Army beat the British and set up freedom and democracy for Americans. The civil war in Syria and the revolutions in Egypt and Libya are being portrayed as popular uprisings against corrupt and tyrannical regimes. Roughly 700 days ago, peaceful and stable governments in the Middle East and northern Africa began to face resistance from the public. The opposition manifested into massive protests in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. The widespread unrest culminated into the supposed Arab Spring. Egypt and Libya were sites of violent revolutions, and Syria has been embroiled in civil war since March 15, 2011. Over the next year, the revolutions in Egypt and Libya led to the overthrow and removal of the governments. Because the revolutions were complete, the public assumed that peace would follow, and public interest began to fade. Of course, that assumption could not be further from the truth. The countries involved in the Arab Spring continue to be fraught  with turmoil. Fairy tales and movies end neatly when the evil king is deposed, and the land is blessed with peace and prosperity. Reality is that revolutions cause chaos for years and years. More often than not, a worse leader will replace the old one. It is much too soon to be remotely optimistic about the Middle East, especially Syria. The country is still entangled in a bloody civil war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to neighboring countries. After Egypt and Libya dropped from the front pages, the Syrian crisis took their spot. The crisis in Syria hardly makes the news anymore. Viewers and readers have likely become desensitized, so the media  are done featuring it. The public and media got tired of waiting for the Syrian revolutionaries to prevail. Now we go back to news that is normal for this time of year—Academy Award predictions and an in-depth look at the hottest Super Bowl ads. Even though most people know the story of the American Revolution, they often do not know about the inner turmoil that America endured after the British left. The country almost went bankrupt, went through two constitutions and dealt with two internal rebellions before Washington’s first term. There is no happy storybook ending in sight for Syria or any country involved in the Arab  Spring. What will bring an...

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