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.

Behind KONY 2012
Mar27

Behind KONY 2012

If you’ve seen “KONY 2012” plastered on T-shirts, signs and countless social media sites recently and thought that another candidate was about to give Republican hopefuls a run for their money, I hate to disappoint you. It’s actually a campaign of a different sort. Thanks to the non-profit organization Invisible Children, Joseph Kony has become the most recent name added to the not-elite-enough list of those who found fame through the phenomenon that is the viral video, joining the ranks of those like the oh-so-poetic Rebecca Black. Over the past several weeks, the KONY 2012 fad has taken over the media universe with a 30-minute video documenting the atrocities committed in Uganda by the leader of the terrorist group the Lord’s Resistance Army, which began abducting child soldiers in the 1980s. And while being educated about social justice issues is an arguably better use of time than watching a 13-year-old girl sing about the days of the week, the KONY 2012 campaign may have more holes in it than most theories about global warming. Invisible Children’s roots go back to 2003 when three young filmmakers traveled to Africa looking for a story to tell. What they documented was Uganda’s children seeking refuge from the LRA. The organization officially began its aid work in the African country in 2005, and has since been using social networking sites to garner support and awareness for its cause. So, what’s the point of their latest media craze? The non-profit claims that it “aims to make Joseph Kony famous” through the film. Unfortunately, a little research into the campaign uncovers some problems. For starters, most of the footage shown in the video is what was originally shot back in 2003. Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal, except that a lot has happened since then, and the outdated material is misleading to viewers who don’t have any knowledge about the situation. In 2006, Kony and his rebel militia were pushed out of Uganda and are now operating mostly in the Congo, which in turn has drastically decreased its numbers to a few hundred, all of which the documentary fails to mention. This would be the equivalent of posting a video about the Holocaust under the pretense that Nazis were still actively running concentration and extermination camps in Europe. It’s just not the case. In light of this information, questions arise about what can actually be accomplished with KONY 2012. The U.S. has already sent 100 military advisers to the area to assist in tracking down Kony. Though they have not had success yet, what exactly will making Kony famous accomplish?...

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Letter to the Editor: Student responds to Feb. 21 opinion, “Santorum’s last-minute surge”

The recent article run on presidential candidate Rick Santorum does not show an accurate representation of what he stands for and against. While no one can question Santorum’s faith, his statements can be a cause for worry. The doctrine of separation of church and state was created for a very good reason, which appears to be something that Santorum has forgotten. While (The Bells writer) shows Santorum to be fairly moderate, he omits several extreme aspects of Santorum’s beliefs. Santorum’s pro-life status, while true, goes so far as to criminalize victims of rape and incest. This is a fairly new idea for the candidate, with this change in ideology exhibiting a trend of taking ideas to the extreme over time. Most Americans, even Christians and pro-life advocates, believe in exceptions, with a meager 16% agreeing with him on this issue. As for contraception, Santorum aims to repeal a Supreme Court ruling that prevents states from banning birth control and has been quoted as saying, “…it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Again, this is not the belief of the common American.  Birth control is not always used as such and is often prescribed for several different medical issues among women, such as hormonal imbalances, relief from  severe cramps, reparation of the ovaries due to cancer treatment and even acne. The concept that the use of contraception leads to deviant sexual behavior is absolutely absurd. Santorum is playing on poorly constructed rhetoric and moral panic in order to attempt legislation which strikes at the activities of the American public. The GOP often accuses the left of meddling in people’s lives to an unbelievable extent, yet Santorum seeks to do the very same thing on an extremely intimate level. Matters of the bedroom should remain between a husband and his wife. A traditional conservative would recognize that and honor it. The last thing the author would like to address about this article is the comment regarding the late President Kennedy. Yes, Kennedy was Catholic, which appears to be one of the few things he had in common with Santorum. Kennedy was a serial adulterer (need the author remind the reader of the dalliances he had with Marilyn Monroe, among others) and nearly started a nuclear war with his mismanagement of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Should Santorum prove anything like Kennedy, one wonders how he would handle his first international crisis, let alone when internal scandal rocks the pillars of government and society. This is not to say that having a strong faith...

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Mexico’s war on drugs
Mar06

Mexico’s war on drugs

There is an enormously understated problem facing the U.S. today. However, people are too busy squinting to see conflicts overseas to notice what’s happening on their own front porch. The Mexican drug war is affecting the United States more than the average citizen knows. Mexico is in turmoil. This once self-sufficient country has come about as close to anarchy as ever before with the rise in power of around ten different drug cartels that are brutal in their tactics to traffic people, drugs, arms and money. As of January 2012, the Mexican government reported a death toll in drug-related incidents to be 47, 515 people since 2006. That is more than the populations of Belton and Salado combined, and then doubled – way too many people dead for the United States to simply turn a blind eye. Would America stand for this if it were the names of United States cities in the headlines? You know, the ones that always get buried in the paper, that never quite make front page? Most people would say that America wouldn’t stand for it. Who would? No good could ever come from this war, and absolutely nothing is being done to put a stop to any of it. Mexico’s left hand is at war with the right hand, and in the end the body suffers — the people. The economic situation is worse off than the recession here in the U.S. With the North American Free Trade Agreement, farmers who once sold domestically were beaten out by American farmers who are subsidized by the  U.S. government. There was absolutely no competition. Even before NAFTA, workers were breaking their backs in the fields, were making per day what a minimum wage worker makes in the U.S. in two hours of flipping burgers, while Mexican drug lords make Forbe’s billionaire list. Now these desperate people are being used as drug mules,  being extorted for money that they don’t have and are charged a few months’ worth of wage to endanger their lives for an unforgiving trip north and a shot to somehow find a job in the States. Even from a less humanitarian and more selfish perspective, it would benefit the United Sates to lend Mexico a hand. For example, Mexico composes 90 percent of the U.S. cocaine market. Beefing up border security would create more jobs in this dreadful economic climate, as well as keep out more undocumented workers. In addition, the drug trade  allegedly allows Mexico to take over a billion dollars of American currency out of circulation. Had enough? How about the humanitarian crowd out there? Because of the drug cartels,...

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U.S. takes the role as arbiter

Amid the protesting that has ensued in Afghanistan since the burning of Korans by U.S. forces, it seems that the reasons behind the chaos have been masked by the deaths of both Americans and Afghans. And while the tragedies should not be overlooked, neither should what is at the heart of the matter. The issue is not just about the destruction of Muslim holy books. It’s about the lack of respect for another culture. Though some may argue that there have been Bible-burning campaigns in the Middle East, it does not justify the burning of Muslim sacred texts. It’s probably safe to say that if someone from another country came into a predominately Christian or Jewish community in the U.S. and set fire to Bibles or Torahs, it would be a big deal. It would be viewed as an attack on the precious ideals that many of our citizens hold. While Americans are overseas fighting for just causes, what needs to be remembered is that they are in someone else’s home, and whether they agree with Afghan beliefs or not, it is not our job as a nation to impose American culture or religion upon them or to disrespect their own religion and culture. As a country founded on principles that protect against religious persecution,  and as a melting pot for people of all cultures, I think most Americans would consider themselves tolerant of other beliefs. This tolerance is more important now than ever. With so many American troops in foreign countries, the world is not only watching us but living among us. Whether we like it or not, what the rest of the world thinks about the United States matters. The countries that we are so intricately entwined with these days have a lot of power over decisions that the American government makes. Those relationships are vital, especially with U.S. soldiers in those very places. Wars have been fought over religious differences for years, and now is not the time to stir up more controversy. Now is not the time for this country to be seen as a bully. If for no other reason than the safety of those troops, the world needs to know that even if we disagree with its beliefs, we still respect them. If American forces are overseas fighting for peace on a large scale, then they need to implement it on a small scale. Really, it all comes down to respect, and as a global presence, the U.S. should set an example....

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Lenten season should be embraced
Mar06

Lenten season should be embraced

For many good Protestants, especially Baptists, the season of Lent doesn’t get any closer to the doors of their churches than drinking or gambling do. They see it as a Catholic thing, an odd tradition established by a religious institution that is outdated. But if people took the time to research it and were even bold enough to try it, they would see that Lent is not a stale practice but is a time for refreshment of faith. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, and many get a cross marked with ashes on their forehead that they wear throughout the day as a reminder that from dust you came and to dust you shall return. For the next 40 days, something that is common in a person’s life is sacrificed as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and every Friday during Lent, church officials encourage participants to abstain from meat, except fish. Lent is wrapped up on Easter with the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection — the foundation for the Christian faith. Lent is to Easter as Advent is to Christmas. It’s intended to be a time to prepare for a celebration and remembrance of the basis of the Christian faith. It’s also a time to seek God and focus on praying and serving others. The idea is to look beyond ourselves and focus on what God has called his people to do and how we are to respond to that calling. Instead of rushing into Easter and spending only a few brief moments reflecting on the sacrifice of Christ, believers should consider participating in Lent and remembering daily that sacrifice as they themselves are sacrificing something from their lives. Whatever it is that the believer chooses to sacrifice for the duration of Lent could vary from physical to spiritual things. Some choose not to give something up but instead set a goal to read a book of the Bible every day or pray the rosary every night. If people choose to give up something tangible, such as soda or sweets, their bodies will physically yearn for those things that they are used to. The physical yearning of our bodies should reflect the spiritual yearning of our hearts for Christ. In Pope Benedict XVI’s message on Lent this year, he emphasized that “this journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.” Taking the time to remember the basis of the Christian faith will do believers good. In this fast-paced world, it’s too easy to rush into the sacred Easter celebration...

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Americans “thinspire”
Mar06

Americans “thinspire”

Fat. Disgusting. Worthless. These are words that race through the minds of nearly 8 million Americans who suffer from eating disorders. Approximately 7 million women and 1 million men suffer from disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Unfortunately, that number is increasing due to an online trend that is slowly killing millions of people. In a dark corner of the Internet, thousands of blogs are encouraging others to develop anorexia and bulimia. Known as “thinspiration” blogs, they encourage readers to starve or purge themselves as a quick way to lose weight. They offer tips on how to purge and how to beat hunger. Additionally they post hundreds of photos of people they consider to be an ideal body type: thin women with protruding bones and emaciated bodies. “It’s a distorted view of themselves,” said Coordinator of Health Services Debbie Rosenberger. “Where you and I would say ‘oh, you’re slender!’ they still see themselves as way overweight.” A majority of these blogs can be found on Tumblr. Those who run them are choosing to promote anorexia and bulimia and believe it is an ideal lifestyle. They even personify anorexia and bulimia by calling them “Ana” and “Mia” as if they are friends. The blogs take advantage of those who have eating disorders by encouraging them to starve and purge, and they can also lure people who are unaware of the dangers of eating disorders into a death trap. “Unfortunately, the Internet has given us quick access to communities of people that can ‘feed’ the issue that a person is inflicted by,” Associate Director of Counseling, Testing and Health Services Joy Muller said. “One of the factors that plays into the etiology of an eating disorder is relational connection. I would presume some of the pro-ana and pro-mia sites have been successful due to the fact that it provides common community, even if the community deems it destructive to the individual. These sites may provide an illusion of relationship.” Recently, Tumblr has been working on deleting blogs “glorifying self-injury or self-harm,” as the new content policy says. There has been uproar from several in the Tumblr community who claim eliminating the blogs will result in the removal of information that documents the struggles of eating disorders and that are a support group for others hoping to overcome their particular disorder. However, the Tumblr staff has the power to ban any content and knows that support groups and, unfortunately, other pro-eating disorder blogs can be created elsewhere. Many options are available for students who are hoping to overcome an eating disorder. “All students can have eight free counseling sessions per semester,” Rosenberger...

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