Tuesday, April 24, 2007

City Life

Chivalry Isn’t Dead
A terrifying journey through the world of electronic romance, and a case study on why nice guys will continue to finish last
By Matt Rasmussen

Poets, scientists, and elementary school teachers always claim the world is full of wonders. Allow me to add a corollary to that: the World Wide Web is also full of wonders. That, of course, is working under the assumption that the term wonder is a blanket phrase designed to convey a combination of old, fat, pathological liars who are all too eager to snap a picture of their dick and bring that photo to the information super highway.

I don’t pretend to be a sociologist. Despite that, I know that gender stereotypes do exist, and feel like my previous interactions could inform me of what misconceptions are prevalent. The question is how could I go about proving prove to the girls I know that not all guys are brilliant, witty, successful, well-endowed, all-around good guys, and that not all girls are manipulative, back-stabbing, two-faced bitches who only care about themselves.

But how to do this? With limited time, and a non-existent budget, there was only one place to turn: Craigslist. Craigslist.org, an online classifieds section, is known by many to be a great place to find a man with a van to transport a television, hunt for jobs, or solicit transvestite prostitutes. It is the ideal website for this experiment.

The Web Of Deception
What I would need to do is set up two ads, one male, and one female, and compare the responses. For the purpose of a consistent control, I would have to make both of these ads painstakingly average, so we could fairly compare the responses.

Our imaginary girl, who will be referred to as Cool Girl from this point average is meticulously bland. She enjoys shows like the O.C., Gilmore Girls, and American Idol (“Sanjaya sucks but I still love him!”). She listens to “everything but country” and her favorite movie is “Wedding Crashers”. She’s just looking for a laid back guy who is funny and knows how to treat a lady, and likes to have a good time. She’s told she looks like young Hollywood’s newest poster girl, Hayden Pantierre, and assures the Internet that she has something in common with Fergie, in that she is regularly in the gym, “working on her fitness”.

Our imaginary dude, who will be known as Senor Rock, is also thoroughly generic. He looks for a classy girl who can have a good time, and describes himself as a cross between Zach Braff and Jake Gyllenhall, a name, which he confesses, he isn’t sure that he spelt correctly. He is part business, part pleasure: he lets us know that he is majoring in business and having a good time. He also would like you to know he likes all kinds of music except classical.

For the purpose of weeding out form letters, and in a hope that it would cut down on the necessary research, I asked potential suitors to tell me their favorite quote, what we might do on a first date, what attracted them to my profile, and their best fib on how we met (“because Craigslist is soooooo embarrassing”).

If I were going to fully blend in to my surroundings, I would also need to make sure that I used the proper dialect in my profiles. The denizens of the Craigslist nation, as I have learned, have a very complex and intricate language, which can best be described as “autistic kids banging on a keyboard”. They have code words that are important for evading the authority who want to stop the youth of America from having fun. Here’s a crash course, sure to get me ousted by the Internet police or INTERPOL or whoever is in charge of the net lexicon: m4w and w4m are man for woman and woman for man, and are the basic building blocks of this online meat market. Theoretically, a TG/TS could be seeking a SWM & BBW combo for a NSA hook-up. Obviously, the TG would be hosting and is 420 friendly, as long as you are okay with him skiing. If you can decode that, congratulations! You’re probably a rapist.

With these two seemingly average profiles, we now have in place a fairly reasonable experiment. However, a reasonable experiment does not guarantee we will be able to run the gamut of results. It is at this point that the ads must be reposted in the “Casual Encounters” section, with their own addendums. This will ensure passionate, honest responses, and, as I will soon learn, approximately half a dozen more cockshots than this writer was hoping for.

Cool Girl’s Gentlemen Callers
Cool Girl Seeks Laid Back Guy

Within fifteen minutes of posting, I have already begun to regret this dull Frankenstein with a vagina that I have created. There have been ten responses. When I wake up at 2 the next day, I will have been deluged with approximately seventy-five responses.

Cool girl is very aware – she knows she’s cool, and she knows she doesn’t have time for all these losers. Cool girl immediately deletes one third of the e-mails, sight unseen. Maxbino gets deleted because he e-mailed each profile twice with different responses. Cool girl has also decided she will delete anyone who sent pictures of their own “laid back guy”, because she thinks some of these gentlemen have been too forward, and it makes her kind of nauseous that her (in)box is stuffed with dicks.

Cool girl is young at heart, and in real life (she’s only 21!) and has decided that she will be deleting everyone 35 or older. There goes another 40 e-mails. She regrets that she asked for a mature guy.

Cool girl is adventurous, so she thinks to further narrow down the selection, she will delete those who did not suggest a date or simply suggested dinner and a movie. She doesn’t like Jay, who is by all accounts fat; she doesn’t like Ralph who wants to give her a massage (but she actually dislikes him because he is Dutch and she is xenophobic.) She doesn’t like “erchin” because he pays for sex, and she isn’t desperate; She thinks Ralph is a cool guy until he tells us that he thinks of “Puck Fair” as a small pub, and refers to his beach-house in Jamaica as Eden – she thinks he exaggerates.

Cool girl does not trust these electronic creeps. She decides to look at how they stumbled upon her profile. Joe likes her energy, and KillaRob clicked on the profile because it said “laid”. Phil likes that she keeps fit, and Steve thinks she seems like “a cool girl”. Among the fifteen or so that actually answered this question, the overwhelming consensus is that she “seems so real” and “down to earth”. She thinks they seem so “desperate” and “pathetic”.

Cool girl is a woman of substance, and thus, it was important that suitors included a good quote to show they were intelligent. Sorry Jim, Nick, Ryan, steveojackass49 Brian, and Liam, but CG knows you are just trying to get in her pants when you quote “Wedding Crashers”. She thinks you made an odd choice by quoting “Caddyshack”, Ricky, and Peter: she noticed that your grandpa always said “everything in moderation” – she is flattered that Winston Churchill’s grandson is contacting her!

Though she doesn’t think lying is a very positive trait, she wants to see if these guys can think on their feet. What kind of excuses did they come up with for meeting her on Craigslist? The most common was “at a party”. Boring – deleted! Some others include in Tijuana, on Craigslist – but buying furniture, and through a series of random meetings. She wonders why three responses included stories of her breaking a heel and being caught before she fell (she doesn’t even wear heels), or falling on the subway and being caught. She thinks the latter might be a knight in shining armor, until he confesses that he likes to use the word retarded even though it’s not politically correct. She is not sensitive to his callous misuse of the term, but rather to the fact that he can’t spell it properly. She decides he’s retarded.

Cool girl, ready to offer her thoughts in the event that they provide a conclusion to her saga lets her know that she thinks men are exceedingly desperate. She is shocked that so many guys could have responded to such an insipid profile. She decides that chivalry is still alive, but upon further questioning, we find out that her definition of chivalry is sending a picture of one’s genitals (but not one’s face), a detailed list of material assets, and a few bad puns. She notices a very interesting trend, and that is the responses got far more sincere as time went on. While initially horny old men and bridge-and-tunnel guidos sent the replies, schlumpy and honest guys sent thoughtful and interesting e-mails as time wore on. She wishes they were quicker and more confident, as she thought their e-mails were far too self-deprecating.

Senor Rock’s Groupies
Fun Guy Looking For Chill Girl

Sometimes it’s hard being Senor Rock. It’s good that he is so concerned about having a good time and partying it up, because if he had time to check his e-mail, he would probably be pretty pissed a guy as cool as he only got two responses.

Senor Rock knows a thing or two about the world, and finds great humor in the fact that so many guys pathetically responded to Cool Girl’s bare-bones ad in a matter of minutes. He scoffed at how desperate they were to try and get in the pants of anything that (allegedly) has a vag.

Senor Rock doesn’t take this seriously, but is shocked when both of his replies come from girls who are…actually, really hot. He wonders if he is being had. He gets a response from a Columbia student who was going on Craigslist to laugh at profiles and was genuinely interested in his. He thinks it’s really cute that her idea includes him visiting her at the café where she waitresses, and her chasing him down when he forgot to pay, followed by them exchanging numbers and credit card receipts. He thinks she’s too cute for him to point out that it would be hard to run down the street with a credit card machine.

When he delves into Ally’s response, he sees that she has a 311 reference in her screen name. She says she would love to have some cupcakes and just talk. She mentions how she is procrastinating on a paper right now. He is sure she’s fat. Senor Rock doesn’t have time for hambeasts. He is going to click the link to her MySpace to laugh at her misfortune, having to go through life as an obese cupcake-monger who is devoted to a terrible jam band. He’s shocked – she’s actually cute. He surmises that women are far less likely to throw themselves onto the market unless they are actually interested. He decides that if he ever becomes a journalist, he will never start a fake profile on Craigslist, or will at least make a fake e-mail account first.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

School Shootings And The Importance Of Sensitivity
By Aimee La Fountain

The Virginia Tech community suffered the deadliest shooting in American history last Monday. By the end of the day, 33 people died including the gunman. This is the most horrific massacre to date, but cases of violence in schools have tragically become a common occurrence in America. The Virginia Tech incident comes eight years after the Columbine shooting. In light of this information, it’s time that our nation takes a hard look at the state of events and resolve that something needs to be done.

The first resolution should be not to resort to finger pointing. The focus of this horrible situation should not be who should be blamed. We need to look at the big picture and ask why it happened. It is time that students and officials get together and honestly assess how students are being treated within the school community. Of course, every school should be prepared in the case of another school shooting. The ultimate goal, however, should be to find ways to prevent another shooting from happening.

The second resolution is that the media’s primary effort should be to respect the victims of this tragedy and those close to them. Family and friends of victims are reeling in response to this tragedy. Thus, if they are generous enough to donate time for interviews the media should be responsive to the gesture and request the vital information to those being interviewed.

Reporters should not pose senseless questions with the intention of earning the most viewers. For example, today in an interview Wolf Blitzer asked the father of victim Reema Samaha to describe his emotional response upon learning of his daughter’s passing. This kind of questioning is not only unnecessary it’s tasteless. In its report on the incident last evening, Fox News referred to the incident as a “blood bath.” It is beyond disgusting that the media is using such insensitive terms to refer to such a horrific event. In journalism, timing is everything. And, when people are suffering from a tragedy such as this, it is not the time to milk the situation for ratings.

Finally, when reviewing this shooting it would be a great service for everyone to reconsider how we treat one another. A common thread in the Virginia Tech incident, Columbine, and various other school shootings is that the gunmen were students who were isolated from their community. It’s too simple to say that these students simply imagined that their peers treated them as rejects.

Most people can relate to the difficult experience of cliques and peer pressure that comes with growing up. On a large scale, schools need to place more emphasis on tolerance. On a small scale, we could all benefit from reviewing our actions toward one another. Many of us go about our lives often unaware of the negative or positive effect our actions have on others. In the case of school shootings, our actions can become matters of life and death.

After such a tragic event like the Virginia tech shooting, many are quick to debate issues such as tighter school security or stricter gun control. Reflecting on the situation, however, one thing is for certain: changes are in order.

Issues In The News

Does The Punishment Fit The Crime?
By Amanda Yazdi

Lately, it seems the media is quick to try, convict and hang anyone under suspicion in the court of public opinion. This is not necessarily a new occurrence, but it is relevant for several of the news stories that have been dominating the airwaves for the last few weeks and months. Two in particular come to mind, the suspension and subsequent firing of Don Imus, and the fabrication and eventual dropping of the charges against three Duke Lacrosse players.

First, there is the sudden public shock and dismay at the language used by the radio talk show host with one of the most offensive mouths in the business, second only to Howard Stern. I resent the reaction of the news media to his insulting and derogatory reference to the female members of the Rutgers basketball team (and unlike all of the these media I won’t quote him yet again—you’ve heard the story—you know what he said) as if this were something new.

If you have had any exposure to his talk show, Imus In The Morning, you know that the man is capable of offending and berating almost everyone with equal opportunity. Is the kind of language he used excusable? No. However, what hypocrisy for the same company that profited from that very language every day to turn around and claim that they are now, “deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made,” according to CBS President, Les Moonves.

Are we supposed to believe, that had the network not feared the permanent withdrawal of millions of dollars in advertising, that not only would Imus still be on the air, but that each and every one of his high profile guests wouldn’t still be tuning in to his sophomoric banter on their morning commutes? Maybe I could respect CBS’s decision had they made it more believable that they were actually disgusted with what had been said. Why not a probationary period for the show, or at least a fine as big as the Imus ranch?

The second act of injustice that occurred recently and was fueled by media coverage ended happily this week when the three Duke Lacrosse players accused of rape were exonerated. What also received much attention after the fact was why these charges had been brought in the first place. Is it because of a prosecutor who played on the sensibility of a media and public who are quick to convict first and ask questions later? Quite possibly. Do we think that although proven clearly innocent of these charges (if you have any questions about that just watch the 60 Minutes interview from last Sunday) that the boys in question are blameless? Unlikely.

However, regardless of guilt or innocence, did the punishment they suffered -- ultimately, the indelible association of each of their names with a highly publicized rape case -- fit the crime of drunken revelry and indiscretion? No. These boys paid a high price for their lack of judgment in activities that evening. No doubt, they will think twice before objectifying women or maybe even before they indulge in a night of partying. But they, like Imus, paid the price of a hypocritical, bloodthirsty, and money hungry media that dominates this country.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

A Younger Generation Is Looking More Like The Status Quo
By Mark Moran

As each generation grows up and enters the workforce, we are optimistic that they will change the world. Will this generation make the world a safe, peaceful and fair place? For those who have high expectations for our maturing youth, recent news stories regarding college students might just leave them disappointed. Frat boys are hiring strippers, a man is referring to female student athletes as “nappy-headed hos” three times their age, and Virginia Tech just experienced the worst on-campus shooting in U.S. history.

For those hoping for change, it seems very possible that this generation will merely carry on a tradition of sexism, racism, and violence. When news broke that the charges filed against three Duke lacrosse players last year had been dropped, newspapers painted these boys as innocent victims. The three are most definitely victims of our court system, but they are in no way stand up fellows. They hired a stripper to come to a house full of men -- not exactly the kind of behavior they wanted their mothers to find out about. ‘Boys will be boys’ is what some would say, but this attitude toward women seen in our youth is allowing sexism to leap the generational gap.

Don Imus, like the Duke boys were, has been at the center of his own controversy involving race and gender. Recently, Imus thought it wise to refer to the Rutgers’s women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos”. Imus should really consult someone about the definition of the word “ho.” The women he so casually used this word to describe are not only esteemed athletes but also academically conscious students. Were they hos based solely on their gender? Imus is someone’s boss and the Duke players are soon to enter the work world themselves -- and frankly, it’s quite frightening.

Has Imus continued the tradition of gendered salaries? Will the Duke lacrosse players make sure women continue to make 80 cents for every man’s dollar? The hopes for a new tradition of true quality for future generations seem near hopeless.

While the Duke boys are keeping the status quo when it comes to gender, and Imus has both race and gender covered, hopes for a new tradition of non-violence also seem dim. The news of a Virginia Tech student’s shooting rampage that killed 33 people is a continuation of our most frightening tradition: violence.

To change these traditions we have to decide what we value as a nation. Racial and gender equality should be at the top the list, right next to safety and security. Once the constitution of this new American tradition is made, we can finally break free of the chains of the past. Like with everything else in life you have to start somewhere.

Where that is we may not be completely sure, but if I had to guess it starts with the youth. Not only the new generation but also every generation. As soon as the people decide we can change there is nothing stopping us.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

Campus Crisis In Today’s Society
By Jennifer Rozansky

“The most deadly school shooting in U.S. History.” The scariest words that any student from high school or college could see go across the screen of CNN Headline news. Virginia Tech University had just experienced a horror that no one would ever want to witness.

Between Monday and Tuesday, my eyes were glued to CNN and MSNBC. It almost felt like 9/11 all over again with this strike of sadness over me, but I could not get myself to change to any other channel. I had to know who was the killer. What made him kill all of these people? And the many other unanswered questions everyone else in the nation was asking.

I graduated high school from a small town in southern Pennsylvania that is 160 miles from the Virginia Tech campus, so I called a few fellow classmates that I still talk to asking if they remembered anyone from our graduating class who went there. I was lucky, that the answer was no, however not everyone was lucky on that tragic Monday.

The media brought up many questions from a long range such as, “could this have been prevented?” To, “What can we do about gun control?” Honestly, I think the main point to get across is almost like the New York City subway system saying on every train, “If you see something, say something.”

The warning signs are usually there, it is just a matter of not being afraid and stepping up. Everyone is looking for something else to blame, gun control, the school itself, or violence in the media, but when comes down to it, someone has to take action whether it is a classmate, a teacher, or a parent.

A couple of months ago, a documentary aired on the History Channel about the famous high school gun shooting in Columbine Colorado. In it, the parents of one of the killers spoke about when he heard there was a shooting he called 911 to ask who the killer was because he believed it was his son. After seeing this, I was in shook and asking, “Why weren’t the parents arrested? They obviously knew something was up.”

Even in the latest incident at Virginia Tech, an English teacher stepped up and told the media how the student that turned out to be the gunman had written several suspicious papers last fall. However, the school board said they could not do anything about it because it was considered freedom of speech and there was no specific threat in any of the papers. But, if they would have taken some action even if it was asking the student if he was ok, or depressed, could this have been prevented?

With all these latest incidents hopefully society can learn how to step up and say something because, lately it seems we see the warning signs a little to late, and hopefully in the future we as a society can learn to help prevent something like this by taking warning signs seriously and not blaming, the media, the violence, or gun control, in the end it comes down to all of us who are responsible.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

Campus Security: How Secure Do You Feel?
By Laura Matteri

A prominent question has arisen over the last few days: “How Safe Is Your Campus?” Campus security, public safety, whatever your school calls them, how effective are they?

What does campus security really do? At Marymount Manhattan College, security guards check the ID cards of students entering dormitories and academic buildings, quite often addressing the student by name as the ID card is shown. It is very easy to flash an MMC Student ID card at a security guard and they won’t even stop to see if it’s really the student’s card. They also sit behind a desk and watch security videos, in addition to badgering students about their guests and guest policy.

On a college campus with numerous acres, security guards drive around in SUVs and break up underage drinking parties or catch kids smoking marijuana behind buildings. When campus parties get out of hand, security shows up to break up fights. What would they do if something serious happened; similar to what happened Monday at Virginia Tech?

There are no metal detectors installed in our buildings. There is no effort to prevent crimes, like the Virginia Tech incident, and somehow, that doesn’t feel right. Schools will go overboard trying to prevent underage drinking on school grounds, or drug use in their student dorms. Where is the effort to save our lives if, God forbid, someone pulls a gun in our school?

It’s sad to say, but it takes horrific events like Columbine and Virginia Tech to wake up our nation. There is no reason that tragedies such as those should have to occur in order for our deans and presidents of colleges to realize our schools need protection. Even if it means that students turn against students in looking into who “could be” a threat to our community, I would say that it’s important to keeping the student body alive and well.

Not to say that schools should go to such extremes as checking bags and thoroughly searching students every time they enter a building. But a simple walk-thru metal detector would satisfy me just fine. Imagine being the roommates of Cho Seung-Hui. The gunman of the worst shooting rampage in U.S. history was sleeping right next to them and they had no idea what he was capable of. Chances are they also didn’t know that Seung-Hui had guns in his possession.

In order to keep the nation’s schools safe, there needs to be a drastic change in the way we approach the work of “campus safety.” Sure, they can dial 911 and keep a stranger out of the building. But what about the people who already live there? In order to keep students feeling safe in their own environment, campus security really needs to be promoted into something more like, “campus protection.”

Perhaps the addition of available firearms would please more of the student body. Perhaps the addition of a police force, or our own bodyguards, or any other form of protection is what is really needed. Whatever the case is, it had better come along sooner than later or else copycats of Virginia Tech, or even new murderers could appear at any time. This is one of those situations where authority should act sooner than later.

Diversity Series (Commentary)

The Blame Game
By Mark Moran

The timeless and enduring issue of prejudice has once again been pushed to the front of the American consciousness. This revisiting of our culture's attitudes towards minorities resulted from WFAN talk show host Don Imus' referring to members of the Rutgers women's basketball team as “nappy headed ‘hos.”

After Imus' comments caught the eye of the media, he became a figurative punching bag for nearly every American news outlet. America took action to conceal its shock. Al Sharpton called for Imus' resignation, the Today Show ran stories on ethnicity in the U.S., and on news programs, the self-righteous expressed how surprised and offended they were. His comments were unprofessional, offensive, and he should be held accountable for them: but why did they shock America so much?

Our culture sends such mixed messages about the ever-so-taboo topic of race. When comedians like Sara Silverman, Dave Chapelle, and Carlos Mencia spout off slurs and reinforce stereotypes, Americans don't burn them at the stake in the name of equality. In fact, we not only let these comments slide -- we laugh at them.

Chappelle's Show and Mind of Mencia have produced big ratings for Comedy Central, and Sara Silverman recently landed a show on the same network. There is, however, a big difference between these comedians and Don Imus: their remarks were in the context of a joke. But we still laugh.

Stereotypes and comedic prejudice are the basis for some of television’s highest rated shows. We stand on moral high ground when it comes to Don Imus, but still sit in front of the television and eagerly absorb shows that promote stereotypes. We call Imus a racist for labeling esteemed student athletes “hos”, but we call Eminem an artist when he labels gay people “fagots”.

It's sad but true -- we seem to be hypocrites. The VH1 reality show “Flavor of Love” has been criticized by many for not only reinforcing stereotypes, but for capitalizing on them. Yet, “Flavor of Love” is the highest rated show in the history of the network. There seems to be a large gap between our words and actions when it comes to prejudice.

Like previous calls to action during controversy, this illogical leap between words and actions are ignored and something or someone is designated the enemy. Marilyn Manson took the heat for Columbine, and it seems that the Hip-Hop industry will take the fall for Imus' stupidity. Every outraged commentator on every news show is now blasting rappers for using the “N” word. Just like how Manson's dark, tortured lyrics brainwashed the Columbine shooters, the Hip-Hop industry apparently gave the thumbs up to Imus' ignorant remarks. It seems that history is once again repeating itself.

When the American public's emotions run high, they wait for someone to direct their condemning finger. To pick who will play our moral foe, news commentators merely need to choose an unpopular public figure and use a minimal amount of reasoning. This avoidance tactic rarely fails; the public ignores the holes in logic and throws their stones.

One could see where these outraged commentators are drawing this conclusion from: rappers often use the “N” word and misogynist words/attitudes are almost standard. However, this hypothesis is giving far too much credit to the power of Hip-Hop, or rather, music in general.

Music is indeed a powerful art form, but implying it has the ability to shape or create wide spread cultural ideals is beyond ludicrous. This aside, it sill makes no sense that rap music allowed Imus to feel comfortable referring to the Rutgers team as “nappy headed hos”. It's hard to imagine Don Imus getting his groove on listening to Biggie or 50 cent.

Singling out one thing, in this case Hip-Hop, as the root of the problem seems to be the most popular course of action because it's the easiest. If the Hip Hop industry is blamed for America's views of minorities, the issue of prejudice can be treated like a disease.

From here, the solution is simple and simplified: Hip Hop is diagnosed as the virus infecting America, the treatment is censorship, and the children along with our fear of self-examination is protected. It's as easy as pie -- one problem and one solution -- a solution that never addressed the real problem.

To recognize the problem of prejudice and hopefully solve it, we must give up our blinded blame game. The problem isn't Hip Hop, ethnic comedy, television or any one thing deviously brainwashing us. The problem is within each of us as individuals. Some rappers say the “N” word and send misogynist/homophobic/bigoted messages, some comedians tell ethnic jokes, and some television shows reinforce stereotypes.

What these critics who love to point the moral finger must realize is that these things exist because we want them to. The American public buys these records, laugh at these jokes, and loyally watch these television shows.

The question isn't how these things influence us. If critics truly think these people and institutions are promoting bigotry, the question is why does America desire it? Musicians, comedians, and television shows that promote hate aren't the source of the problem they are the results. American attitudes regarding prejudice did not and do not stem from one thing.

Slavery, oppression, power, history, censorship, tradition, imperialism, and capitalism are merely a few of the forces that shaped and continue to shape how America views/treats minorities. These things not only affect how America treats minorities, but also how its people in general regard those who are different from them.

Many of people standing on their soapbox chastising Don Imus are part of the problem. As they look to Imus to see what wrong with America, they avoid looking at themselves and their own biases. Fueled by his self-satisfying self-righteousness, Al Sharpton called Imus a bigot and demanded his resignation. Does Sharpton know what the definition of bigot is?

Maybe Al forgot some of the bigoted comments he's made. Maybe he's forgotten his lecture at Kean College in 1994 where he was quoted saying, “We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and those Greek homos ever got around to it.” Not only is Sharpton a hypocrite, but also like many condemning Imus he is part of the problem.

We must look to ourselves first if there is any hope of living in a society where race, gender, religion, sexuality, and every other differentiation that can be made are non-existent. Blaming the entertainment industry, Don Imus, or even Al Sharpton for bigotry in America is a fruitless effort. The comments Imus made has given our country and its people the opportunity to address prejudice.

If we want any sort of change, we must look at the whole picture: at our history, our government, our culture, and ourselves. We must acknowledge our own biases and ask ourselves why we have them. We need to show the same amount of outrage we are showing Don Imus when our government oppresses those based on their minority status.

What do we expect to happen from blaming Hip Hop for supposedly creating a culture where demeaning slurs are accepted? By blaming Hip Hop will censorship ensue in the name of equality? The continuation of the moral blame game offers only a hoax disguised as an answer. America doesn't need any more smoke screens; we need some old fashioned honesty -- from our country, our culture, and ourselves.

So America, do you think you can handle the truth?

Diversity Series

Making A Choice: Family Over Career
By Hillary Trautmann

Growing up in the 1950s was by far very different than growing up in the 2000s. Besides the differences in technology, among other cultural changes, people’s moral values seemed to be quite different as well.

When I sat down to interview Rosalie Morris, I was not expecting what I got. At age 68, she is still very talkative, opinionated, and full of energy. She stands at only five feet, but her bright red hair gives her at least another inch and a half. A mother of four children, two girls and two boys, says that she “has had a very fulfilling life.” That her family is the most important part of her life, and that she has never regretted giving up a career in the fashion industry for them.

Born on February 29, 1939, with the name Rosalie Nappi, to a Jewish mother and an Italian father, she has always been very open-minded and liberal in her beliefs. “Being born with mixed religious beliefs was not very common at that time, and I have found because of that, that it has made me more understanding of things such as, homosexuality and interracial marriage. Really, I believe that people should be able to do whatever makes them feel at their best.”

At 15, Morris met her future husband, Stephen, at an ice skating rink, in Bronx, New York, where they both grew up. They quickly began going “steady”, and were high school sweethearts, attending the prom together at William Taft High School. Two years later, they were married while he was attending The Fashion Institute of Technology and working towards an associative degree in fashion design. After graduating, Morris found out that she was pregnant.

“The thought of an abortion never crossed my mind, but of course in 1958, the times were so different from now. Abortion was still widely considered inhumane,” she said.

After the topic of abortion came up, I was interested to know what her feelings were on a women’s choice now, which is quite a controversial issue. “Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I was walking to the store. It was very cold outside so I was wearing my fur coat. As I walked past two young girls, probably in their late teens, they commented on my coat. Telling me that I was an animal killer, yet all I could think was that they were baby killers.”

Morris explained this story by saying that she felt that because women have such a right to choose that they are no longer careful. That women seem to be much more promiscuous than ever before, that they almost seem to be taking advantage of a medical procedure. “This is not saying that I don’t believe in abortion in extreme circumstances, but I believe there is always another choice,” Morris said.

It is interesting that Morris feels that way though, because according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, in 2003 in the United States there were 854,122 legally induced abortions done. Whereas, in 1989 the highest recorded number of abortions was done in the United States, being approximately 1.3 million.

Morris was on the right track though with the reasons for abortions. In 2000, only 1% of abortions were because of cases of rape and/or incest, whereas, the number one reason was simply the want to postpone childbearing, with a whooping percentage of 25.5.

So, even if abortion were an option for Morris’s life, would it have made a difference?

“Absolutely not. Although my life could have gone in an entirely different direction, and maybe I could have been a successful career woman, I am a successful family woman instead. I was in love when I became pregnant, and still am. I wouldn’t change my life for anything,” She says this with a smile, and she means it.

Diversity Series

Finding God
By Cara Schweikert

At first glance, Mitchell Hernandez is a good-looking, fit, young, vibrant man. Even in his orange jumpsuit. He walks with a certain swagger, one that most men coming from the streets do, and his brown eyes portray a painful seriousness. Hernandez is a 34 year-old inmate stuck in the prison system.

Hernandez is what the state and federal system would characterize as a nonviolent drug offender. He is serving federal time at the Nassau County Correctional Center in Long Island New York. He is an individual raised in unfortunate circumstances, sadly becoming the thing he knows best, a victim of the streets. Hernandez has been in and out of prison three times, first for five years, the second time for eight years, and now he is awaiting his sentence.

Born and raised in Sunset Park Brooklyn, Hernandez is of Puerto Rican and Costa Rican decent. He describes the neighborhood he grew up as, “diverse, mostly white, Spanish and Mexican.” Mitch has acquired three felonies throughout the years, all drug-related. In the first few minutes of speaking to him, he said several times that he believes “everything happens for a reason” and that beyond all the sadness life has brought him he still feels that “God has a greater plan.”

Mitchell Charles Hernandez was born on August 31, 1972 at Momoides hospital in Brooklyn. Both of his grandparents immigrated here from Puerto Rico and Costa Rica in the 1950s. Hernandez was the first of three siblings born to Mirna Millan when she was just 16 years old. He has two siblings Charley and Erica, who came shortly after. His parents were never married and separated when he was young, “I hardly ever saw my father. My mother was so young, she was more like a friend to me.”

Hernandez had anything but a normal childhood. He enjoyed having fun being “adventurous”; he liked skateboarding and playing handball in a nearby parking lot with his brother and sister. His favorite childhood memory was a school play he was in when he was nine because “I got a lot of attention.” His worst childhood memory was discovering his mother was a heroin user when he walked in on her in the bathroom one day “with a needle in her arm.”

Hernandez enjoyed school and was an average student but found himself easily distracted by the absence of his mother’s love and the constant worry of her drug use, which began to progress. Besides the fact that their mother neglected him and his siblings, his father was also a drug user, a “violent drug user” and continued to fade in and out of their lives and in and out of jail, even today. His father was diagnosed with HIV 10 years ago due to his heroin use.

Hernandez doesn’t remember the exact day or month, but when he was 13 years old, he and his brother had returned home one afternoon to find his mother lying naked in the bathtub unconscious. Mirna Millan died in 1987 of a heroin overdose. She was 26. His grandmother took them in after his mother’s death, but she died six months later of cancer. Hernandez said, “it wasn’t just the cancer that killed her, she died of a broken heart, losing her daughter was too much for her to take. I loved my grandmother.”

Shortly after, Hernandez said began hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing stupid things for attention. “I dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade and began selling and using cocaine. The first time I got locked up, I was 17 years old and I did five years.” It becomes clear where the painful seriousness in his eyes comes from, the memories to him are clear as day and he has not begun to move forward and overcome his past.

The U.S. Justice Department recently conducted a survey comparing childhood neglect involving New York State inmates and found that 68% percent of inmates in county jails in 2005 did not complete high school, and 60% of these men were abused or neglected as children.

For the survey, the Justice Department selected subjects at random from convicted male felons in New York State maximum security facilities. This was either the first or second incarceration for 89% of the subjects. The average age of these men was 30 years old. The definition of neglect used in the study included examples of children being left alone while their parents were gone for long periods, hearing from others that they were not getting enough to eat, not receiving proper medical care, poor hygiene, and being cared for by other relatives because no one was home.

These circumstances were a fact of life for Hernandez, and when asked how he dealt with this neglect as a child, he said, “when you’re in a bad situation, as a kid, you learn to do things to make yourself happy, you rely on yourself more than anyone else.”

Another study taken by The Journal Urban of Health shows that high rates of nonviolent inmates have grown immensely since the Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted in 1973, which require harsh prison terms for possession or sale of relatively small amounts of drugs, regardless if the individual is a first time offender. These drug laws apply to any individual involved in narcotics sales without regard to the circumstance of the offense, or the individual’s character or background.

The Journal of Urban Health says, “high rates have begun since the Rockefeller Drug Laws, young minority males from inner city neighborhoods of New York. If instead of the prison inmates, these figures represented the progress of a new epidemic disease (e.g. AIDS epidemic) we would employ a set of standard methods to assess their impact. But prison data are not normally viewed as collective events that warrant such an assessment.” In other words, the casualty of drug inmates is so high that it could be described as a disease.

Hernandez is not just a drug offender, and he is not just an inmate. He has lived a life “full of ups and downs.” When asked if he has a girlfriend, he says, “I fell in love in 2004, of course I had girlfriends throughout the years, but when I met her, every time I was around her I had so much energy, she gave me energy and my attitude changed for the better.” Hernandez said when he is released he wants to get married, have a family, and look into opening his own clothing store. He loves art and has always been into urban men’s fashion.

Hernandez does not know yet how much time he will be serving. He has been held in Long Island for eight months awaiting federal sentencing for selling and possession of 30 pounds of marijuana, which he says, “is not a significant amount compared to most other individuals.” He is expecting to serve from two to five years because this is his third offense.

When asked about the most profound spiritual moment of his life, Hernandez said, “when I finally saw and felt everything I wanted in my life, when I realized I had everything I wanted, when I was content with my relationship with my girlfriend and my life in general, that same day I got locked up, that’s when I turned to God --for strength.”

Hernandez is involved in the drug program, bible study, gets weekly visits from his girlfriend and continuously goes to mass at the jail. He spends the rest of his time, “Mostly worrying, and praying. Worrying about losing my girlfriend, losing what I had and praying.” As the prison visit ends, he says, “Never take anything for granted, if you love someone, love them with your all, treat them the best you can because a person will never forget if you hurt them.”

Diversity Series

Coping With The Leap To Urban From Rural
By Leigh Baker

The uncomfortable, homesick feeling that comes when one moves from the comfort of home is intense enough. When moving from a severely rural area into a brutally urban setting, however, the pressure becomes immense. According to the Network of Rural Ministries Serving Youth, one third of the nation’s students live in rural America, which describes the age at which most people leave their homes to venture into “the real world.”

Although this is not an overly startling statistic, it goes to show that the small percentage of students who are enduring these conditions are in for a surprise when the time comes to leave their humble abode.

Matthew Engel, a 20 year-old student in New York City, says that his transition was especially difficult. Engel comes from a small beach town in Northwest Indiana that lines Lake Michigan with sand dunes and saw grass. Its population is a mere 1,300 people.

“It takes me 25 minutes just to get to the grocery store,” says Engel. He loves the place from which he comes and is truly thankful for the plethora of childhood memories that he now has. Engel enjoys talking about his home, despite its rural qualities. “It’s quiet, it’s friendly, and everybody knows everybody. I love the familiar faces.”

So why make the transition if home is where the heart is? Despite this vast appreciation, he says, “I understand what I have to do.” He came to New York City to find the opportunity that he felt he needed in order to succeed, opportunities he says he could never find in his hometown. He says, “City life is tough. Some days I love it, some days I hate it, but in the end, I really appreciate the chances I’m going to get out here.”

Engel says he really does love the life of a hardened New Yorker, but it’s so chaotic that it sometimes seems to be too much to handle. That is why, he says, going home is such a treat. “It reminds me of my childhood and gives me a nice break from this hectic thing I call my life.”

Growing up in a small town, as many people do, has its advantages and disadvantages. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.8 percent of the total population is considered “rural.”

Another young adult, Kristin Cieresewski, grew up in a small town in Southwest Michigan replete with cornfields and friendly neighbors. The high school she attended is set next to a cow farm in which, during the warmer months, she says that you can smell the manure wafting through the air vents. The town itself only has 2,500 people, though the school district slightly exceeds the town’s boundaries. The district is continually growing, but Cieresewski spent her elementary years in classes of no more than fifteen students.

She speaks of her hometown with longing. “I love my home, but I was definitely ready to get out of there when the time came.” She left for college at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, only about an hour’s drive from her house. The main campus itself is in a rural area, but Cieresewski is attending the downtown campus, which is set in a city of nearly 200,000. Though this doesn’t quite compare to Engel’s jump to a city of eight million, Cieresewski faced struggles of her own.

“I’m not used to the people. They all seem to be in a rush when I seem to have no place to go. It’s almost scary,” she says. Similar to Matthew Engel’s move, the shock of city life took some time to set in. Now, Cieresewski says, she has become used to it, but sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. “Sometimes, I just need to relax and take a break from all the madness.”

Many teens leave home with no regrets until they realize that their friendly hometown truly holds a special place in their lives and hearts. These two fresh city faces, Matthew Engel and Kristin Cieresewski, are enjoying their newfound freedom in a new place, despite its differences from everything they have come to know thus far in their lifetimes.

The rural areas of America are some of the most comfortable places to grow up, but leaving home sometimes poses a predicament. Many people are strong enough to handle the change, but there are a number of options for those who have difficulty. Some end up revisiting their rural homeland, while others take advantage of the services offered through their school or community to cope with their stressful surroundings.

City life may not be for all of those who first think it is, but those who endure the initial struggle seem to love the experience in the end. “It’s all simply an experience,” says Engel, “and I’m glad that I’ve stuck it out for this long.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

We Have Been Here Before
By Parisa Esmaili

April 20, 1999: most people remember this day as Columbine or the Columbine High School Massacre. I personally remember that day being a sixth grader given an extra recess for “good behavior” from the principal, and it being revoked. I remember the empty time passing while teachers walked in and out of our classroom whispering to Mr. Waldas (our teacher) more frequent than usual, and my best friend and I leaning on the edges of our chairs eavesdropping on what could have possibly ruined our extra half hour of recess.

I remember the bell ringing at 2:37 from South Lakewood Elementary in Lakewood, Colorado and my mom picking me up in tears asking me if I was all right. All right? Mom, it was just recess. Little did I know earlier that morning and fifteen minutes away from my house, was a massacre heard around the world.

Yesterday’s shootings at Virginia Tech were all too much of a replay in the minds of anyone who has ever come within the jurisdiction of school shootings anywhere. Since 1996, almost 50 school shootings globally, from elementary to college, have taken the lives of more than two hundred students, faculty, and staff.

It is routine; after any incident officials begin asking questions; who knew them, what happened, did anyone happen to notice how they were feeling that day, what were they wearing, what kind of person were they.

Promises of justice to be found, new regulations within schools are enforced and come with harsher penalties; more promises of grueling counseling to the affected and the affecter, if they choose to salvage their own lives, are implemented. It is also almost a guarantee that within the five to six months post-massacre, things will run almost exactly as they had before. What they, the schools, officials, families, and the public will not forget is the name of the troubled killer.

I come from the school district that set the standard of dress codes in “school terrorist.” If you wore a trench coat post 1999, you were sure to be the kid hiding bombs in the gym locker, bringing hidden knives under God only knows where, losing your temper and beating up the teacher, and sure enough the only person capable of a school shooting. Ironically, the fad of “not allowing trench coats” in school only lasted a couple of years.

The issue deeply hidden in the Virginia Tech shooting, and countless other school massacres, is the failure to recognize (for lack of a better word) the killer’s real/hidden source of issues. A CBS/AP article had these few quotes from people who “knew” Cho Seung-Hui, the gunmen of the Tech massacre:

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

Cho Seung-Hui […] Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university's English department, said she did not personally know the gunman. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department's director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as "troubled."

"There was some concern about him," Rude said. "Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it's creative or if they're describing things, if they're imagining things or just how real it might be. But we're all alert to not ignore things like this."

This is not the first time teachers have noticed something different, perhaps a little off, about students who have been targeted as “possible threats” and yet failed to do anything about it.

Have we not learned anything from fifteen-year-old Kip Kinkle, who killed two students, wounded 22 others, and then murdered his own parents; or Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, who killed 14 people (including themselves) and wounded 23 others at Columbine. Teachers and parents admitted they did question the young people’s behaviors but never saw any hints of something radical happening. And then it did.

Perhaps we should not scrutinize the alleged gunmen, or women, who terrorize the schools; perhaps we should look at our “professionals” who are supposed to see the cry for help before something horrible happens.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

Right To Life
By Julie Buntin

Ever since the Columbine High School shooting several years ago, parents and students haven’t felt quite as safe in schools. Institutions of education were once the holy grail of safety, forward growth, and freedom in the United States. During the last fifty years a handful of American students have illustrated their discontent with the status quo violently, on campuses and students, with increasingly tragic endings. The Virginia Tech massacre, which occurred yesterday morning, marks the bloodiest shooting rampage in this country’s history.

The world’s troubles are growing. The Virginia Tech shooting only reaffirms that already a well-known fact. As an American student myself, I understand this, and I face it everyday. We shall inherit the earth, but what earth have we been so lucky to inherit? I’m not saying Cho Seung-Hui had any remotely understandable reason for taking out his personal problems/lunacy/immense mental illness on 33 human beings. I am simply saying we live in a world where this can happen, did happen, and this horrific tragedy is also a part of a longer list of disturbing worldwide massacres, which may have been a factor in its evolution.

The horror of the shooting at Virginia Tech defies reason. Not only is it unfathomable, it should be impossible. This occurrence is so agonizing to stomach in part because of the difficulty of bridging that gap in logic. This is America and no matter how aberrant or depressed or insane someone truly is, gun control, campus security, and pure human compassion should make it impossible to reach this point of madness and destruction. When did people stop understanding the worth of a human life?

While scrolling down the list of victims in an online Fox News story, I was bombarded by a deep, cold sense of despair. Everyone on that list was here, on Sunday, cramming for a Biochem midterm or smoking a cigarette or brushing his or her hair in a steamy bathroom mirror. Each victim felt the night air, held things in their hands, laughed at their roommates from another room. And someone, someone not too different from all of them, a classmate even, believed he had the right to wrench their lives away.

All over the world there are individuals who believe they have some reason, some deep unalterable mission to destroy the lives of others. What about Cho Seung-Hui? Did he have a reason? Or this time, this senseless time, is it worse? Did he just reach a level so deep nothing could ever pull him out, did the shooting mean nothing to him, was it just something to do, something to break up the monotonous current of his life? Asking these questions is painful. The only thing more painful to contemplate in light of this tragedy is how much sheer human potential we lost in the thirty-three dead, and how much good they could have achieved on their inherited earth.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

A Death Cry For Tighter Security On College Campuses
By Lindsay Cooper

Monday’s tragic events at Virginia Tech University have exposed the lack of educational commitment to efficient security means in protecting students on college campuses throughout the U.S.

University President Charles Steger and Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall answered questions at Monday’s press conference and said hat many of the classroom buildings were pretty much open to the public. They also told reporters that there was no type of identification needed to enter the buildings during the day. The fact that many of the students were alerted two hours after the initial shooting is also quite alarming.

As a college student myself, this is deeply disturbing to hear. At this stage in our development we are committing our entire lives and finances to an enriching education that promises intellectual, independent, and social growth. But how can we be sure we are getting this when devastating campus events like these occur that make each one of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, feel unsafe at these institutions.

Campuses everywhere are pouring tons of money into building new facilities and resources, developing new and better ways of advertising, and finding countless ways to make their own college or university more selective. But what these college and university campuses need to be doing is focusing on how to improve and invest more money into campus security.

How would it make you feel to walk onto college grounds and receive ambiguous information on how security personnel guarantee your individual safety in this hectic environment? I am sure it just sends shivers down your back to be unsure of whether the place you spend your time from 8 to 5 is a safe place after all.

The occurrence of past school shooting events along with the recent Virginia Tech massacre demonstrates a need of campus and off-campus security to develop new and more effective ways of guaranteeing campus safety.

Katherine Andriole, of the not-for-profit group Security expressed how text messaging might be more of an innovative way of getting to students and faculty faster. Clearly, we have the means to communicate quicker with one another on a massive level so why aren’t we using them when it’s most urgent?

Hopefully in witnessing or hearing about these shocking campus events, we can investigate what we were consistently failing to do for college professors and students across the nation to prevent further death tolls from because of one individual’s hatred of life.

In addition to increasing and developing new ways of providing campus security, the nation needs to focus on the personal background and motives of this senior murderer and how his “troubles” reveal an unspoken lack of individual attention needed at every school. The truth is it doesn’t really matter the size of the school or even its location -- as educators and scholars we need to pay better attention to not only our academic careers, but also our socializing skills, or the lack thereof.

Special Report: Crisis On Campus

Virginia Tech Will Overcome This Tragedy
By Leigh Baker

College campuses are becoming a scary place for many people. With the many actions that have recently taken place, it’s no shock that the parents of most students are rather worried. Not to mention, the concerns of many students have risen as well. Is there really a sure-fire way to ensure the safety students on college campuses?

For years, safety has been a concern of directors and deans at universities around the nation. Rape was an issue years ago, now the distress is focused on guns and violence. Columbine could be considered one of the first true school shootings that shook the nation, and since that day, security in high schools and colleges around the country has increased dramatically. Is that really necessary? I think so. This violence epidemic that has taken hold of so many shooters in the past ten years could actually be in low numbers compared to what they could have been if not for those metal detectors and security guards at the doors. It’s no inconvenience to anyone, especially if it saves the lives of students or simply scares the perpetrator silly.

As for the massacre at Virginia Polytechnical Institute, that could be considered another can of worms. Yes, it is the worst massacre in the history of the United States, but what on earth were those guards, faculty, and administrators doing that morning? It is reported that the controversy now is concerning how the situation was handled, for it took nearly two hours -- that’s right, two hours -- to attempt to bring and end to the madness. And, the madness certainly did not stop there. It continued with the shooting of 30 more students. It makes those officials at Virginia Tech look oblivious, which I hope they were not.

That was the fault of the institution; however, we must realize that despite these administrative “mishaps,” there will always be nut jobs in the world that only wish to inflict damage and pain in order to cure their own sorrow and insecurity. Of course, it is a tragedy, a catastrophe, a misfortune, but it is not the first time this has happened. Colorado, Kentucky, and other areas of the nation have been faced with disastrous events such as this, and they all seem to have bounced back. It is only a matter of time before VT is able to overcome their sadness and recover.

College campuses around the nation should now be focused on seeking out these potential predators and preventing catastrophic episodes. It has been reported that the gunman’s English teacher was the only person to exhibit concern about the student’s topics of choice for class assignments. When brought to the Board of Directors, the case was dismissed because there was no solid evidence depicting a plan of this magnitude.

We should focus on relieving problems before they become massacres. Honestly, only one teacher was concerned for the well being of this boy? Come on, pull it together VT.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Diversity Series

Poetry Slam Host Bids Adieu
By Benjamin Peryer

It has been called an institution for underground artists by critics, an utterly brilliant diamond in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but for Nathan Pierce of the Nuyorican Poet’s Café in the East Village, it was home.

Pierce, the host of the Friday Night Poetry Slams at the Nuyorican, is better known at the café as Nathan P. With his cool personality reminiscent of Shaft and an inspiring impersonation of Prince, Pierce has energizing Poetry Slam audiences since Fall 2000.

This coming month will be last for Pierce at the Nuyorican. “It’s time to move on, not forgetting the past, but continuing on to a newly creative future.”

Pierce came across the poetry scene in New York by accident in 1999 when a friend dragged him to a poetry slam. Pierce remembers his reluctance towards poetry saying, “daffodils, and bunny rabbits, I haven’t done poetry since eighth grade.”

Pierce recalls his reaction to the slam as being a life changing moment. “I’m sitting there, listening to this phenomenal art thinking, poetry? This can be poetry?”

The night following Pierce’s first slam he began to start writing the first of would become an impressive installment of poems called “It’s Madness.”

As the poems began to build up, Pierce wanted to learn more about the poetry scene in New York. This is when he told about the Nuyorican Poet’s Café.

What began in the living room of founder Miguel Algarin in 1973 with the mission of bringing New York work into the public eye soon became a sought out form of communication for many young artists in the city. Poetry was a vital sign of a new underground culture in New York and needed to be heard live.

By 1980, the Nuyorican opened in its current home of Thirst Street and Avenue C. The café’s mission of creating a multi-cultural venue for new artists has only strengthened in time. Slam performers at the café have moved onto film, literature and theatre projects, including 1987 Slam Champion Sarah Jones who won a Tony for her one-woman show “Bridge and Tunnel” in 2006.Pierce first entered the café in 2000 after hearing about it through a mutual friend. What he found was a stage he would stand upon every Friday night for seven years.

For Pierce, poetry became a part of who he was while hosting the slams at the café. “It’s such an easy art form to do, yet it has so much power over people.” It has created a certain atmosphere. “There is electricity in the air, like it was a rock concert.” And you can ask a stranger for a seat without being met with stuck up attitudes. Pierce recognizes poetry as an art form that has the power to bring people together.

New York has been a creative feeding ground for young underground artists. Pierce’s well-known poem “It’s Madness” looks at social issues ranging from politics to poverty. The hook of the poem reads “it’s madness, yo, sheer madness.” It looks at the way someone would beg in the street for sixteen hours, but not take a job for eight hours.

“This is madness, I thought, and I wanted to know if anyone else was seeing these types of things.” For him, New York was a fuel for that.

This subject matter comes from Pierce’s daytime job, social services. Pierce works as welfare reform working with programs that put people back in jobs. “This has always extended into my poetry,” he says.

His last night will be a bittersweet one for Pierce and the audience that has come to adore him. His relationship will not end with the café or with poetry, but for Pierce, it is time to continue with his work.

His message with his poetry: “Change yourself, you can change the world.”

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Diversity Series

Kenneth Goldsmith: A Life Of Service
By Aimee La Fountain

“I had always expected to be of the helping profession,” says Kenneth Goldsmith, 70, director of volunteers at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. He has fulfilled that expectation through his work, training volunteers for various organizations in New York City.

Goldsmith grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, “a small city with a lot of history”, as he refers to it. The son of a neighborhood pharmacist, Goldsmith and his family were prominent members of the community. Goldsmith recalls that the worst even of his youth was the “untimely and unexpected” death of his mother while he was studying at New York University. Her passing motivated him to transfer to Boston University in order to help care for his younger brother, Eddie.

Family unity is a resounding theme in Goldsmith’s life. When Eddie moved to New York City, Goldsmith decided to return to the city to be with him. Through his years residing in New York Goldsmith has watched the city evolve. The most dramatic change Goldsmith observes is how the city has become safer over the years.

He says, “It seems safer now, even with the threat of terrorism. There was a lot of street crime until about five years ago. One felt personally threatened.” Goldsmith says that being close to his brother is one of his favorite aspects of living in New York, though he readily provides other attributes to the city.

One of which is the city rich cultural life. When Goldsmith first came to New York he was offered work with renowned French mime Marcel Marceau as a publicist. Goldsmith considers the city to be his gateway to many of the experiences he has enjoyed in his life. He says, “I really get to see and do a lot that only happens in New York.”

The rise of the AIDS epidemic in New York during the 1980s led Goldsmith to his career as director of volunteers at the Spellman Center at St. Claire’s Hospital. The Center for Disease Control reports that 100,777 people died from AIDS from 1981-1990. According to the American Council on Science and Health, of the 116,316 New Yorkers diagnosed with AIDS from 1981-2001, 72,207 have died.

Goldsmith says, “I wanted to work for ‘my people’- gays and [members of] the theatre community. I didn’t realize that my people were also the intravenous drug users.” At the Spellman Center Goldsmith counseled those working directly with AIDS patients and he also ran the National AIDS Hotline.

Goldsmith remembers that those living with AIDS were estranged from society early in the epidemic. “It was an exciting and challenging time. People living with AIDS were very much marginalized and not a lot of people were willing to work with them,” he said. For this reason, those who were willing to work with AIDS patients often found themselves overworked. Said Goldsmith, “The physical work and the emotional strain were very hard. It was truly being in the frontline.”

Goldsmith recalls this time in his life as a challenging experience. “The work was so overwhelming that any small escape, dinner out, theatre, music, was powerfully restorative,” he said. Despite these challenges, Goldsmith remained loyal to his cause. Goldsmith observed, “It seemed we were always tired, but never enough to think about stopping the work. It was a time best described as vocation, being called to true service.”

Another challenge Goldsmith faced was working with people he didn’t always agree with morally or professionally. He commented that this struggle turned into a lesson in patience for him. “[My] work life has taught me to try to love everyone, even the people I don't like very much,” he said. Goldsmith adds that his life philosophy is to “try to be accepting of all people and avoid being judgmental.”

Reviewing the occupations Goldsmith has held over the years, his professions reflect his desire to live a life of goodwill. He says, “I really don't feel I have chosen a career. Each job I've had has put me where I am today.” Where Goldsmith is today is a place of modest contentment. “I don't take pride in any individual accomplishments, but I am happy to have led a life which seems to have meaning,” he said.

It has been 25 years since Goldsmith first moved to the city. His fondness for New York and his work has inspired him to alter how he envisions his future. Goldsmith said, “I [had] imagined that I would [eventually] retire and be living at the beach. The truth is that I don't think I will ever leave the city and I don't think I will ever fully retire.”

'60 Minutes' Interview With John & Elizabeth Edwards

Couric Steps Up To The Plate And Strikes Out With Viewers
By Matt Rasmussen

The recent ‘60 Minutes’ segment featuring presidential hopeful John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth has brought on a veritable tidal wave of controversy, and most of it does not have to do with the Interviewee.

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, who has been chastised by critics due to her reputation for offering up notoriously easy questions is now catching flack for a hardball interview in which she suggested Edwards is putting his family second, and that the Edwardses appeared to be in denial.

While valid, Couric was disconcerting in her decision to often refer to the ever-mysterious group of “some people”, using it as a way to wedge in loaded questions without attempting to make herself look bad. At one point, Couric offered up, “some say, what you're doing is courageous, others say it's callous. Some say, "Isn't it wonderful they care for something greater than themselves?" And others say, "It's a case of insatiable ambition."” While this wasn’t an unwarranted question on it’s own, the hypothetical appearance of ‘some people’ comes off as irresponsible and cowardly.

In addition to an influx of complaints sent to the CBS website, other anchors are also taking aim at Couric. “I can’t believe most people watching that with children wouldn’t ask, ‘Why is Katie Couric passing judgment on these people?’ said Chuck Scarborough, on his MSNBC program “Scarborough Country” the day after the interview aired.

Commenters on popular Left-wing blog, “Talk Left” received the interview poorly, on the whole. One commenter, posting under the name “Jeralyn” said: “I was surprised at how negative she was. Everything from her repeatedly asking the same thing, to her stern expression. I was thinking she was trying to prove she can be a tough interviewer.” Another, under the handle “xyz” responded more extremely: “will someone please put Couric out of her, and my, misery?”

Despite harsh questioning, it’s more than apparent the Edwardses were ready for them. Edwards seemed poised and answered each question with a prepackaged and homogenized answer. Elizabeth, who showed just the slightest shred of emotion, didn’t have a particularly difficult time either.

Besides carefully choreographed answers, the fact that they appeared at all let the world know they were ready to be challenged for their decision to stay in the race. ‘60 Minutes’ executive producer, Jeff Fager surmises: “by agreeing to appear on “60 Minutes” so quickly after the diagnosis, John and Elizabeth Edwards were clearly eager to discuss the issues”.

Making a campaign stop in San Francisco, Edwards said he found the questions “tough, but they were fair.” Elizabeth Edwards called Couric to thank her for the interview.

While this interview and a press conference last week have gotten Edwards quite a bit of attention, he is not the only candidate dealing with health concerns. Former Massachusetts’s Governor Mitt Romney discussed his wife, Ann’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis on “Larry King Live” this month. Rudy Giuliani makes it a point to talk to his bout with prostate cancer, and McCain of his battle with skin cancer.
Couric Is On Critics’ Hot Seat For ’60 Minutes’ Interview With Edwards
By Amanda Yazdi

Katie Couric is no stranger to tragedy. Neither are John and Elizabeth Edwards. In 1999 Couric’s husband, Jay Monahan, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Nine months later, he lost his battle with the disease, leaving Couric alone to raise their two young daughters. In 1996, John and Elizabeth Edwards lost their 16 year-old son in a freak car accident. Only eight years had passed when Elizabeth was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, a disease with only a 20% survival rate over five years.

In a recent ’60 Minutes’ interview, Couric sat down with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards after he called a press conference to announce that his wife’s incurable form of cancer had returned, but that it would not take either of them off the campaign trail. Immediately following the interview, a virtual firestorm erupted in the blog-o-sphere besieging Couric with criticism for her so-called harsh and unsympathetic line of questioning.

What viewers seem to have forgotten is that this is not infotainment, or a morning news story, or an abbreviated two-minute evening news piece with a few good sound bytes. This is ‘60 Minutes’. The questions are notoriously hard-hitting. When the senior producers of television’s most respected news magazine sat down and thought about which correspondent was right for this interview, of course they chose someone who has devoted as much time to cancer detection and prevention as has Couric. Let’s also remember that she is the highest paid and highest profile correspondent on staff, and they want to put her to work earning those big bucks, and bringing in those ratings.

Since Couric took over the reigns at CBS Evening News as the first solo female anchor, she has received nothing but criticism, from the lack of color in her wardrobe to the lack of hard news in her broadcast. It appears this is just another opportunity to criticize this woman’s work. Which begs the question, would there have been such a backlash had this interview been conducted by Mike Wallace?
To “Some People” Couric Grills Edwards On The Campaign Trail
By Benjamin Peryer

Katie Couric’s interview with Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Edwards and wife Elizabeth, who has within the past couple of weeks discovered the return of cancer, has been criticized as been too harsh. To “some people”, an anonymous group Couric repeatedly cited in the interview, say she went too far with her stern demeanor and overly forthright questioning.

In a press conference in mid-March, the Edwardses announced that Elizabeth’s breast cancer has spread to her bones and is incurable with treatment that does not always prolong life. The Edwardses continued to say that the campaign trail to the White House would continue regardless of this news.

Following this press conference, the Edwardses have faced criticism that questions whether it is appropriate for this trail to continue. It has also been brought into question of whether Senator Edwards is using his wife’s ailment as a way to garner public attention.

The two had the opportunity to speak to the American people on March 25 in Couric’s ‘60 Minutes’ interview about these concerns. However, they were faced with a stern anchor asking hard questions. Remember, Katie the perky personality has left NBC’s morning show Today, and is now Katie Couric the anchor realm of CBS Evening news.

After giving John and Elizabeth Edwards a chance to repeat whatever positive statement they could conjure up from the press conference by asking if they were in denial, she says, “Some people watching this would say, ‘I would put my family first always, and my job second.’ And you’re doing the exact opposite. You’re putting your work first, and your family second.”

Senator Edwards’ well stated response was, “But this is not work…this is a service.”

Couric’s convenient group of “some people” provided the means for which she could base her question, but does it also provide a one-sided attack on the Edwardses that leaves us saying, “Katie,” sorry, “Couric 1, Edwards 0”? Or is it simply a question that a majority of Americans have thought? However scrutinized Couric is for this interview, she can at least be credited with getting the public a response for a common concern. Keep in mind; this was the point of conducting the interview.

A beautiful story this reads for Edwards’ campaign -- it was evident that this election was not something either of them are willing to sacrifice. It is clear that Edwards recognizes the message that would be conveyed by continuing his presidential bid. It is something that has come up, and of course, it is something that will be addressed now and throughout campaign. Whether Senator Edwards is capitalizing on it will be left up to “some people”.

Although there may be a need to further investigate this group called “some people”, Couric accomplished every aspect of the interview with a level of professionalism and poise. Let it be noted, this definitely was not Katie. She asked the questions the public wanted address, leaving little room for vagueness, and gave the Edwards an opportunity to respond and further confirm the strength of his campaign. Edwards got the last word saying, “If you asked me today whether I’m in this campaign for the duration, the question to that answer is ‘Yes.’”
Couric Misses The Ethical Bar In ’60 Minutes’ Interview
By Mark Moran

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric’s interview of John and Elizabeth Edwards on ’60 Minutes’ began as an impartial human-interest story involving cancer, coping, and the question of work vs. family. But unexpectedly, Couric threw the Edwardses a curve ball when she insinuated that the presidential hopeful was choosing his campaign over his family. Obviously, this “question” was as loaded as a frat boy on spring break.

The Edwardses seemed unabashed by Couric’s biased comment and answered the supposed question as if she had asked what was their favorite ice cream flavor. In fact, as she spat out questions that became progressively more attacking, the Edwardses not only kept their composure, but also seemed more sincere. Unlike many politicians who skillfully dodge unflattering questions, the couple faced each harsh inquiry head on. The Edwards appeared to come out on top due to their heartfelt and articulate responses in the face of what some would say, were insults ending with a question mark.

Couric, who is best known for her light hearted news reporting on “The Today Show” showed her audience how cold she could be. Throughout the interview, Couric didn’t smile, nod to show a consideration of the Edwardses’ answers, or any of her hospitable body language that was often seen on “The Today Show.” By doing this, Couric exaggerated the warm and likable aspects of the Edwardses by being the exact opposite. The colder the questions became, the warmer the Edwardses’ answers appeared in contrast.

By the end of the segment, the interview seemed to have degenerated into a near no holds barred attack by Couric. At several points she overstepped the line between journalist and subject. When Couric brought the Edwardses’ two children into her line of questioning, the interview left the realm of journalism and became a debate over family values. This debate, however, did not seem to involve the clashing of the Edwardses’ and American public’s values, but rather, the Edwardses’ and Couric’s values.

Couric is an esteemed journalist whom many viewers respect. However, throughout this interview she started to resemble Geraldo Rivera more so than a CBS news anchor. The level of journalism that Couric has attained and its accompanying professionalism was not represented in this interview. When you are making seven figures to report the news the ethical bar is set high. Unfortunately, Couric couldn’t seem to reach it in this interview.
The Edwards Presidential Campaign As Political Rollercoaster
By Laura Matteri

“Tell me about this rollercoaster,” were the words from CBS News anchor Katie Couric’s mouth as John and Elizabeth Edwards defended his presidential candidacy to America in a recent interview on ’60 Minutes’. Last week the couple announced the relapse and spreading of Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer, from breast cancer to bone cancer.

America is wondering whether this “rollercoaster” is taking the Edwardses for too much of a ride. Is it possible for the potential future President of the United States to handle the duties of politics in addition to tending to his fatally ill wife? Couric made sure to ask all of the questions that Americans are wondering.

Couric bluntly asked what Edwards thinks of the evaluations that are going through the press right now regarding his choice to continue running for president. He was thoughtful in his response, graciously accepting all aspects of the criticism.

Upon hearing Couric’s later accusation that “some” have said the Edwardses are capitalizing on the situation, Edwards, once again, cleared the air of any misconceptions regarding his motives in the campaign. He outwardly told America not to vote for him because of Elizabeth’s misfortune. He said that voting out of sympathy would be “an enormous mistake.”

In addition, Edwards gently pointed out that each candidate, Democratic or Republican, has their own lives. Americans have every right to speculate about each of them and decide for themselves whether they’re worthy of winning the campaign.

However, there are several other candidates who have issues that seem to be going against them. Hilary Rodham Clinton is the potential future first female president. Barack Obama is the potential future first black president. Couric said in the interview that “some people” feel that the diagnosis of Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer increases the media spotlight on Edwards’ presidential campaign.

Although the issue of his wife’s illness is an important part of his life, John and Elizabeth Edwards have decided that it is in the best interest of the country if he stays in the race. Edwards appeared in the interview to be a strong man to be up for the challenge of running the country as an incurable disease slowly takes his wife’s life.

If such a man is willing to put his personal life at the same level as his service to the country, it shows how dedicated he really is. Sensitivity is not a characteristic one seeks in a president, so if a man is capable of balancing a deteriorating home life and that of America, may the rollercoaster will zoom forward, full speed ahead.
Couric Interview Raised Doubts About Edwards’ Campaign Decision
By Julie Buntin

Anytime an interviewer is faced with discussing literally, a life and death situation, they will have a more difficult time. The questions Katie Couric posed to former Senator John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth regarding her spreading cancer and his decision to continue as a presidential candidate were challenging not only for their bluntness, but because they handle issues every human being must face.

Couric’s interview has been criticized for being too harsh. The problem did not lie with the intensity of the questions—which were appropriate. Senator Edwards is running for the position of the Democratic Presidential Candidate and anything could potentially affect his leadership deserves to be scrutinized by the American people, no matter how personal, which Senator Edwards agrees with in the interview. What gave the interview a skewed, uncomfortable sense was a quality of deep personal involvement displayed by Couric, which gained momentum as the questions progressed.

While Couric’s personal history with a loved one’s cancer may make her more highly qualified to conduct such a survey, statements like, “…I guess some people would say that there's some middle ground. You don't have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself, and do nothing. But, if given a finite – a possibly finite period of time on the planet – being on the campaign trail, away from my children, a lot of time, and sort of pursuing this goal, is not, necessarily, what I'd do…” passes a lot of judgment on the interviewees, whether or not that judgment is intentional.

No listener can come away from a statement like that and not notice the slight, indirect way Couric condemns John and Elizabeth Edwards. Other statements, like when Couric refers to the Edwards’s children as “baby birds,” in addition to questions about the Senator’s ability to remain an undistracted leader while his wife faces a terminal illness feel excessive and callous. Often it is like Couric is the greatest doubter of the situation and the decision made by Senator John Edwards and his wife.
Couric And The Edwardses: Pluses And Minuses On Both Sides
By Leigh Baker

Katie Couric’s ‘60 Minutes’ interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards was, overall, a well-conducted performance. There are critiques and feedback that can be given to both the interviewer and the interviewees that pronounce how well each party managed their opposing ends.

Katie Couric’s initial approach to the assignment was well handled. She simply asked Elizabeth Edwards how she was feeling. This is an important step because it establishes a level of comfort with the interviewee, which is especially imperative when dealing with matters such as cancer and death.

Next, her questions were relevant to the questions on the minds of many Americans, especially those who follow and support the Edwards campaign. How the Edwardses responded will be addressed later.

However, the way in which she asked these questions made the Edwardses look almost immoral with their decision to continue in the race for the democratic nomination. For example, Couric says, “Some people watching this would say, ‘I would put my family first always, and my job second.’ And you're doing the exact opposite. You're putting your work first, and your family second.”

In wording her question like this, she has compared these two individuals to the American population, and has assumed that most people would act differently. Furthermore, she uses the phrase, “exact opposite,” which implies that they are on the opposing side of the American public. It’s true that morality tells us to put family first, but she is distinctly placing them on the opposite end of the spectrum when they may not see their decision in this light.

Contrastingly, the couch that the Edwardses occupied seemed an uncomfortable one. They were firm in their answers, but these responses seemed rehearsed. I suppose that it is natural for a politician to prepare for any and all questions that may arise, but it seemed slightly dishonest.

Next, many of their responses seemed very roundabout. Generic answers are stereotypically considered a politician’s forte, but by responding like this, they didn’t quite tackle the questions being asked of them. Also, answers like this make it tough to conduct a solid interview because one must distinguish each question to receive the level of specificity needed. In other words, the questions may seem redundant, when in fact, the responses are.

Finally, one of the larger issues in the interview was whether or not the family is in denial of the seriousness of Elizabeth Edwards’s illness, and whether or not this denial would abate at a later date, possibly when it is too late. The response given by Elizabeth Edwards began with a stutter and concluded with a statement of optimism. Edwards’s reply was one that implied strictly, “no, we are not in denial,” and continued with Elizabeth’s theme of optimism.

In some cases, this premise of “optimism and strength” that they speak of continually could be confused for denial. It is not clear whether they are actually rejecting the possible thought of death within their own minds, but both reactions were neither confirming nor refuting the idea.

The questions were asked, and the answers given, just as should be done in any interview, but both parties had errors and triumphs.
Politics And The Art Of Professional Journalism
By Aimee La Fountain

John and Elizabeth Edwards announced in late March that despite the reoccurrence of Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer, Edwards would continue his presidential candidacy. This decision naturally garnered critiques from people in all areas of the political spectrum. It is the right of the American people to be informed on the candidates running for president, and an interview with the couple was the perfect forum for the American people to get such information. CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ undertook this responsibility and recruited their network superstar Katie Couric to conduct the interview. However, the interview served as another in a series of weak attempts at journalism for CBS.

The first major error of this interview was the questions that were asked. The role of journalism is to ask questions that generate answers to enlighten audiences. Many of Couric’s questions, however, seemed used purely for their sensational value. For example, Couric asked Edwards “Weren’t you terrified you might lose your wife?” Such a question is unprofessional because everyone knows the answer before Edwards opens his mouth. Edwards’s response, which naturally began with “Of course”, further proves that. Furthermore, the question wasn’t insightful. Couric is bringing up a painful topic that serves no real benefit to audience members.

The second error was the way in which the questions were formulated. Couric began many of her questions with the s word, a word ever-dreaded by journalism instructors: some, such as, “some say” or “some people.” This is a cheap technique used as a means for Couric to ask any questions she pleases under the guise that it is what people are asking. Therefore, by using these expressions, Couric detracts from the validity of her questions. A key value in journalism is the use of sources and attribution to support what is being stated. If “some people” are indeed asking these questions, then Couric should employ the name of some such critic. After all, if there isn’t a demand for a particular question to be asked then there is no real point in asking it.

Third, CBS was unfair in choosing Katie Couric to conduct this interview. Journalism is supposed to be presented without bias and Couric, having publicly lost a husband to cancer, (even if she herself is unbiased), is clearly a biased figure on the issue. For example, it appears improper for Couric ask the question Edwards for staying on the campaign trail when she herself continued hosting The Today Show during her husband’s illness. The focus of the interview should have been on Edwardses, and using someone like Couric makes that focus nearly impossible to maintain.

The concept of an interview with the Edwardses after such a controversial announcement is both timely and appropriate. The fashion in which the interview was conducted, however, was not.
Couric’s ‘60 Minutes’ Interview With Edwards Was More Soft Journalism
By Parisa Esmaili

“There’s not a single person in America who should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer. Not a one. If you’re considering doing it, don’t do it. Do not vote for us because you feel some sympathy or compassion for us. That would be an enormous mistake. The vote for presidency is far too important for any of those things to influence it,” Senator John Edwards told CBS’s Katie Couric in a recent ‘60 Minutes’ interview.

Twelve days ago, Senator Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, publicly announced they would continue their 2008 presidential campaign, regardless of Elizabeth Edwards now incurable cancer. Three years ago Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, however, the family received news two weeks ago the cancer was back and now has spread to her bones.

While many husbands and wives argue over coming home late from the office, Couric, who has also had her public share of cancer, was now questioning the decision of why Senator Edwards and his wife have chosen to continue their campaign. Disputes of family value, work, and publicity have all come into question of the Edwards decision.

Edwards told Couric at the beginning of the interview, that, “the decision was made by the two of us, no one else, as it should be. And she said to me, ‘this is what I believe in. This is what we’re spending our lives doing. It’s where our heart and soul is. And we can not stop.’”

The ‘60 Minutes’ decision to have Couric conduct the interview, a 14-minute clip that aired, seemed more like a choice of empathy and soft-journalism. Couric has been under immense pressure for not delivering “hard-news” since her move to CBS. Reaction to that criticism can be seen in many of Couric’s questions, which were direct, but repetitive. However, Couric did exactly what America asked for -- getting answers to the domestic situation from the family of a presidential hopeful.

Senator Edwards’s media popularity had not really galvanized until his wife’s recurring cancer was made public. It is unfortunate that this is the most attention he has received since he announced he was running for the presidency.
Controversy Accompanies Couric’s Interview With The Edwardses
By Lindsay Cooper

In Katie Couric’s '60 Minutes' interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards, she asked some loaded questions centering on how Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer would affect Edwards’ presidential campaign.

The interview seemed very well rehearsed as neither of the Edwardses stumbled or hesitated in their answers to Courics’ questions. The interview began with Couric, who appeared to express a somewhat concerned expression asking Elizabeth Edwards how she was doing. Elizabeth Edwards’ glittering blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and pseudo smile was evident as she answered Couric’s questions about her cancer in the most optimistic manner. Her husband similarly answered questions with an utmost positive aura, which seemed somewhat surreal.

As others have expressed, there was an ironic twist that subtly presented itself through the interview. John Edwards claimed he was greatly concerned with his wife’s illness but understood the responsibility of running for presidency, which meant focus and clarity when hard judgments have to be made. This discrepancy allows the viewer to see that the real question about his wife’s illness standing in the way of his campaign has not really been answered. It was also ironic that Couric’s face appeared to soften when interviewing the Edwardses, but she refrained from expressing heartfelt emotion and focused on objective questions that dealt with the public’s interest.

There did appear to be a progression throughout the interview in which Couric went from asking basic questions about Elizabeth Edwards’ health to more complex ones, such as questioning John Edwards’certainty in the presidential race if her condition worsened. However, the Edwardses responded to every question in a consistent and well thought-out manner. Couric, on the other hand, did appear to change the tone in which she asked her final questions, particularly in stating to John Edwards that the president at a dangerous time like this cannot be concerned with such distractions. It seemed as if there was another, perhaps more personal intention behind such a question.