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.

Letter to the Editor

This is a response to the October 2 Bells writing that referred to Muslims, and ostensibly a film, in a tenor exemplified by such phrases throughout as “no brains, brainless mobs in the Muslim world, turned violent, ridiculous, unruly crowd, irrational, herd mentality, against their better judgment, dangerous, scary, politically profitable to defend the honor of Islam, violent mob, blind obedience,” on par with crass media stereotypes of Muslims, film or no film. No comparison/framework is given characterizing Christians who kill millions throughout history, or even in reference to U.S. un-Christian policies in the Middle East. A film or any one thing (such as the acquittal of police beating a Black) is basically only a precipitating factor as it called in social science, and blowback (as the CIA refers to responses to those policies of ours deemed criminal and immoral) occurs, or as a Congressperson admitted, there was already a “long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012.” Since we are in academics, note that much of Islam and Arabic culture laid the foundation for much of academia. Since we refer to ourselves as being in Christian academia, note that Islamic and Arabic cultural emphasis is on hospitality to others. In fact regarding the latter, a Waco Baptist missionary who has been in the Middle East for 30 years reiterated that here recently as well. Dr. Jose Martinez,...

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Politics vs social sites
Oct30

Politics vs social sites

The old saying about not discussing religion or politics seems to be as outdated these days as parachute pants and VHS tapes, at least when it comes to the latter. If you’ve been on any form of social media in the past couple of weeks, no doubt your newsfeeds have been inundated with posts and tweets about the presidential debates and upcoming election. From loyal Obama backers to rallying Romney supporters to independents and those who just “don’t care at all,” it seems as though everyone has an opinion. And social media has been the place to share it. While the Web can serve as a good spring board for exercising the right to free speech, it can also become an avenue for bitter arguments between friends, family and even strangers,when it comes to a topic as volatile as politics. But because people can hide behind a monitor and say whatever they want, the Internet has become a place to blast, not only candidates, but every belief, opinion or conviction someone else may hold. Apparently all old adages have been thrown out the window because the wisdom of not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice has also been discounted as people take to their keyboards and computer screens to vent about who said what during the debates. Sure, political conversation can be a great thing. And the fact that we have the freedom to engage in such conversations so openly is a right we should not take for granted. However, what good is it doing anyone to rant on Facebook about your opinions without any regard for whom you may offend? It’s almost enough to make you think twice about logging on to social media sites at all. Who wants to be berated with one hostile statement after another when all you really wanted was to look at pictures of your best friend’s cruise or read a humorous post about someone’s day? And it doesn’t just stop at one comment. If you’re looking to garner attention on your wall or feed, just say something offensive about one of the presidential candidates or mock something they said on national television during the debates. Soon, your friends and followers, and possibly their friends and followers, will engage in an argument that goes on for hours, or even days if you’re lucky. And usually, the conversation turns into petty name calling that has little or nothing to do with the original post. The truth is, it’s unlikely that what is said on any social media site in a moment of annoyance while watching a debate is ever going...

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‘New Normal’ in families

By Jasmine Simmons From June Cleaver to Snookie, there has been an obvious change in family dynamics over the past half century. As society becomes more tolerant to alternative lifestyles and social practices, family life develops new facets as well. In today’s post-modern society, families are breaking June Cleaver’s utopian picture of happiness in the home all over the country. It is an understatement to say that the standards of the average family have changed from the days of Leave It to Beaver to present day. If a family from the 1950s were to gaze into an American household today, they would be shocked to see single parent homes, households with teen mothers and same-sex parents to list a few deviations from the 1950s American household. Divorce, a concept that was basically taboo in the 1950s, has impacted a large majority of households. Teen pregnancy is on the rise in the States. High schools are now making child care centers in school buildings, so teen mothers can continue their education. Six states have legalized same-sex marriages, and activists in other states are fighting for its legalization. Unconventionality is running rampant in families across the United States. While the reasons behind such families may vary, it is still alarming how far contemporary households have veered from the model of the conventional family in earlier generations. Oddities in families are cinematic gold for media outlets like television and movies. The MTV television program Teen Mom showcases the lives of high school teenagers who have become mothers. The New Normal, an ABC sitcom, tells of a single mother who works on becoming a surrogate for a gay couple. Movies like Baby Momma and The Back-up Plan depict single women who desire to have a baby without a partner whatsoever. These television shows and movies acknowledge the changes in family dynamics and profit greatly from them. Standards are being refined as it pertains to the home and the family dynamic. Still, acceptance is not always the best policy. Within this era, where there is a development of different ways of life, a line must be drawn when deciding between what is permissible and impermissible. Things are not as they once were. People are not as they once were, and as a result a new normal has been set for the U.S. and the families that exist within...

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Sketchy sales prove useful

The words black market are associated with shady and illegal practices. One image that comes to mind is the stereotypical man selling watches from his trench coat. The black market has a reputation of being unsafe and unproductive. Many do not realize the scope of the shadow economy. The pharmaceutical sector of the U.S. is valued around $252 billion while the illegal drug trade is around $215 billion. What is more surprising is that the illegal drug trade in the U.S. is worth $89 billion, more than the fast food industry in America. Globally the black market is massive. It has an estimated worth of $10 trillion. The shadow economy encompasses a whole slew of business practices. These ventures range from violent enterprises like drug trafficking and prostitution to unlicensed selling of goods like working as a street vendor. One reason for the sheer size of the shadow economy is because of the large quantity of workers employed under the system, which is 1.8 billion people. The widespread nature of the phenomenon has allowed for a good deal of international trade, which in turn has also contributed to the rapid growth of the underground economy. Much of the business that makes up the shadow economy is in the developing world. Illegitimate businesses in these countries are often able to circumvent their inefficient and often corrupt governments by dodging import regulations and taxes. In essence, they practice an extreme form of free trade. One of the largest suppliers in the international shadow economy is China. Sellers provide many different forms of electronics and machinery under the radar and off the books to African countries like Nigeria. While this is illegal because it violates international trade laws, it has actually benefited workers in countries like Nigeria. Companies in developing countries often do not have the budget to buy legal software and operating systems for their computers and have been known to pirate the software they need. There have always been those who have disregarded the rules and benefited. With the staggering number of those involved in the shadow and its success brings to question how flawed the shadow economy actually is. Prostitution and drug trafficking are illegal and have very negative consequences. Copyright infringement and breaking international trade laws are also illegal, but they can have positive consequences. For those in the developing world where the odds are stacked against them it would seem that participating in the shadow economy is their only option for economic success. The underground economy has had better success at uplifting the economic level of developing countries than all the international aid and work programs. Aid...

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Why I’m voting Democratic

By Ella Rowand I consider myself a moderate Republican. Nevertheless, I am voting for the Democratic candidate. Mitt Romney, like any politician, has his good and bad policies and ideas. However, I feel that as a presidential candidate, he has more of the negative than positive. The biggest reason I am voting Democrat is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare. The controversial legislation, while not perfect, has many benefits for me and my family as well as millions of others around the nation. For example, millions of young adults are covered under their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 or married (myself included). Abortions have dropped 62% since the birth-control mandate went into effect. I could continue on and on about the benefits of this bill. Romney wants to “repeal and replace,” meaning he will distribute waivers to the states while he works on repealing the bill and then leave it up to the states to deal with the issue. Each state would have its own laws and policies regarding health care. The problem with this is that it puts us back at square one. If the states had been taking care of the issue all along, ObamaCare would not be necessary. The Romney campaign says that the ACA will take money from seniors, raise taxes by an exorbitant amount and add to the deficit. However, rather than taking money from seniors on Medicare, Obama is reducing overpayments that have been being made to providers. The bill does raise taxes, but not in the way Romney suggests. And while there is much debate on whether or not ObamaCare adds to the deficit, in the long term, the bill is meant to reduce health care costs across the board. This is not to say Romney does not have any good points. For example, his Social Security reforms are a solid step in the right direction. Closing loopholes in the tax code is a smart and long-needed reform. But saying that lowering taxes and cutting regulation will create jobs just is not true. A lack of regulation is part of what caused the recession. While Obama has been president, he has worked diligently to lower the unemployment rate. Since the peak of unemployment in 2010, the rate has steadily declined under the Obama administration. Romney says he has a great plan to jump-start the economy, but he has yet to state any real specifics about this plan. On his website and during the debate, he touts his “5-Point Plan”: energy independence, emphasis on higher education and job training, trade reform, eliminate the deficit and encourage small business...

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Why I’m voting Republican

I am Republican because I believe in addressing problems and solving them. Conservative principles in which Republicans firmly believe have been at the core of our nation and its governmental history since its founding. As a conservative Republican, I care deeply about the nation’s moral state, having a free market economy, and taking responsibility for our own actions. The killing of the unborn is an atrocity that is depriving America and the world of lives that could be making societal differences. It is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being, regardless of his or her age or stage of development. Merely calling the baby a fetus does not excuse murder. Furthermore, throughout history, Democrats have claimed to stand up for the rights of the underprivileged and those who have no voice. Why are they not protecting the rights of the unborn? Unraveling the fabric of the traditional family, which has been the basic social unit through which American ideals are taught for centuries, by encouraging homosexuals to marry has caused moral, social, and health related problems. Studies suggest that children adopted by homosexual couples develop related psychological problems. Republicans, in large part, believe in proactive problem solving as opposed to thoughtless reactive measures. Creating jobs and using our own natural resources is the solution to economic problems. Giving Americans jobs is what keeps the economy functioning properly. Outsourcing work to foreign countries will not help the plight of U.S. citizens. Many Americans are insulted and appalled at how dependent the United States has become on foreign governments. Borrowing outrageous sums of money from nations, subjecting our great country to the wills of others is a far cry from the liberty and independence the United States was founded on. As Republicans, we believe personal responsibility, governmental accountability and financial planning are what keep the economy healthy. Raising taxes does not work either. Historically, this approach only slows the economy because customers spend less when they have less money. What will rescue our economy is using the resources this nation has been blessed with and hiring Americans to manage and operate the companies that extract, refine and market those resources. Conservatives, throughout history, have upheld the fundamental standards on which America was built: independence, economic freedom, and morals taught by the traditional family unit. I will be voting Republican because it is obvious that America needs a dramatic change in course. We need a competent administration with sound character and integrity. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a statement at the Oct. 11 debate that demonstrated the integrity America needs. “I don’t see how a person can separate...

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