The Circus Protests
While the Ringling Bros. circus was preparing to visit George Mason University a few weeks ago, Mason’s Animal Rights Collective was preparing to protest. On ARC’s website, they display the signs and information they spread to circus patrons.
Adults and toddlers alike were showered with cries of “torture,” “death” and “abuse.” Children too young to read colored in pictures of PETA propaganda, entitled “Animals belong in the jungle!”
However, let’s set aside the ethics of bombarding children with politically-charged coloring books and focus on the facts.
ARC held signs which read “Ringling on Trial for Animal Abuse.” It seems that ARC forgot the signs that read “…Almost a decade ago” and “Innocent until proven guilty.”
ARC waved pictures of young tigers and elephants at the crowd. But, can someone explain to me how grainy, close-up pictures are damning evidence against Ringling?
All context is cleverly cropped out of these pictures. It’s as if protesters think they shouldn’t have to be held to explaining the whens, wheres and whys. Their strategy to cage stuffed animals next to a sign that reads “cruelest” fails to make me sympathetic to their cause.
It seems that the best case that ARC can make to ban animal circuses from campus is that sometimes particular employees misuse their power. By that logic, I suppose we should also ban student-teacher relationships and all politicians.

Emily Owens
In response to Moore’s ‘Flags at Mason’
Being part of the George Mason University community has been a life-changing experience. In this diverse atmosphere I have established good relations with many faculty members and students, for whom I have a great amount of respect.
I have learned so many aspects of this diverse community, either through academia or through meeting individuals and organizations.
On the other hand, I have also met a handful of inimitable faculty members and individuals who have given me and our organization an unenthusiastic aspect of what this community stands for.
I am a Kurd and a member of the Kurdistan Student Organization. We have been an active student organization since 2006.
Despite our achievements as an organization, we have faced many obstacles in regards to our flag being displayed at Mason.
After many dialogues concerning the flag issues, the Office of International Programs and Services came up with guidelines for International Week. According to these guidelines, KSO is once again not allowed to display their flag.
KSO made a decision that enough is enough and we will raise awareness of this issue amongst the Mason community. Our decision came down to a peaceful protest.
Indeed, we protested and gained about 500 signatures from students in favor of our flag to be flown in a matter of three hours. Also, Student Government passed Resolution 21 unanimously in our favor as well.
Despite our success, we received some negative criticism. Especially from one particular individual named Alan Moore. He wrote a mean-spirited opinion article in Broadside essentially calling our protest meaningless.
The egotism displayed by Moore in his column “Flags at Mason” in the April 18 issue is insulting. I, as part of the KSO, would like to edify this individual and express my thoughts about his indecent comments.
With all due respect to Moore, I would beg to differ with the opinion stated in reference to our knowledge of our oppression. All Kurds know their history.
We have long endured suffering and oppression by tyrants and a majority of KSO members are, in fact, victims. If this was a matter of interest, Moore would have been inclined to ask before generalizing on matters that he indeed is unaware of.
We know the precise essence of discrimination and the epitome of living in an unjust world. With that said, I want to kindly state that not being able to display our flag in the Johnson Center is not the only injustice that we have faced but in fact the smallest degree of injustice.
However, it is these small issues that lead to bigger issues. I am guessing Moore has never lived in a state of injustice and cannot understand the concept.
We are in no way angry, but rather disgusted about the political game that’s being played at a university that supposedly praises diversity. By voicing our thoughts in a peaceful and smiling manner — or as Moore so kindly put it, in a “melodramatic” sense — does not in any spirit mean that we are a bunch of people bored out of our minds and have nothing better to do but protest.
The arrogance that’s portrayed in this article certainly shows utter insensitivity and lack of education. In absolute respect to the unpleasant remarks made, if he indeed believes that this protest was an absurdity, then why base an opinion column on it?
If Moore claims that this issue was not of importance, then I suggest he try being a Kurd for a day.
His opinions aside, I would really care to understand the relevance of the vague concept of comparing the flag of more than 40 million people to a cartoon character.
I am completely disgusted that Moore can be insolent towards something that’s so valued by Kurds.
For future reference, my only advice would be to open your heart and let your heart open your mind, because arrogance comes at a great cost that simply generates hatred.

Naze Sindy
Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Alan does not understand
I am writing in response to the April 18 editorial by Alan Moore who said, “college students are often so detached from reality they insist on fighting the most pointless battles.”
I would argue that this writer does not understand the point of a college education.
At its best, college provides the rare interlude when one is liberated from the intellectual constraints of parents and the local community, even as one is free of the coming constraints imposed by a job and a demanding career.
In this brief interlude, a brief flirtation with utopia, between the parochialism of family, or a specialized profession, a young adult can investigate and experiment with an array of new beliefs and new modes of behavior.
Perhaps above all, he or she can enjoy more than ever before, and in all likelihood never again, an environment that allows a large degree of personal exploration and personal honesty.
At its best, a college invites honesty. It encourages students to report on the exact quality of their experience, to express their most unconventional beliefs.
If the emperor is naked, they are the ones to shout forth the alarming news.
The normal fears of exposure and censure, the wide array of constraints — to please, to adjust, to gain status, to win promotion — abate just a bit, even on occasion in classrooms, but more often in dormitories or in various student interest groups.
The accusation that students are “bored” and embracing “meaningless endeavors” needs to be addressed by the undergraduates who are learning to think critically.
Best wishes to all at George Mason University (especially English and environmental science departments).

Nancy Bagwell
Former Professor
The worldwide organ black market and its impact on thousands

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are more than 110,000 individuals on the waiting list to receive an organ in the U.S.
Last year, nearly 29,000 transplants were performed, but the waiting list grows longer every month by about 3,000 people.
These numbers mirror the huge discrepancy between available and needed organs in the country. As this is a question of life and death for many hoping to receive an organ, it leads to a situation where some people are willing to pay a very high price for a body part wherever it is available.
In our connected global world, people can often be found in various developing countries, fighting to survive on meager and irregular incomes. Vulnerable people are targeted and convinced that donating a kidney (the organ in highest demand) will not harm them and will bring them an attractive sum of money.
They become easy prey for organ-harvesting agents who choose not to tell the whole story. The recipient typically goes to the country and gets care in a good hospital, while the donor does not get much care after the surgery.
Should treatment be needed for an infection and doctor visits, he has to take care of it on his own.
It does not need to be this way. There are measures that could be taken to supply organs in an orderly, volunteer-based market in the U.S.
Today, to be listed as a donor, you have to opt in by checking a box on the form at DMV. What if it was the reverse? It would be anticipated that everybody is a donor, but if you don’t want to be, then you have to opt out by indicating so on the form. This is called “presumed consent.”
This sounds like an insignificant detail, but reality proves otherwise. Psychologists Eric Johnson and Dan Goldstein have shown in an article in “Science” that the choice between the two is a major factor in comparing the consent rates in European countries.
For example, Austria and Germany are two countries with many similarities. In Austria the opt-out system is used and nearly everyone (99 percent) gives their consent. In Germany, where the opt-in choice is used, only 12 percent give consent to become an organ donor.
There is also another possibility, called “mandated choice,” where people are asked to indicate their choice when they renew their driver’s licenses. This has worked in Illinois since 2006, resulting in a 60 percent donor sign-up rate, compared with the national rate of 38 percent, according to Donate Life America.
There is not much we can do about the demand for organs, but as these examples show, we can do something about the supply. There are options available if the political will is there to enhance our self-sufficiency.
This would allow more people to receive the organs they so desperately need in order to live full and healthy lives, and it would also erase the black market for organs.
This is a win-win situation where the public health principle of securing circumstances for people to lead healthy and prosperous lives is honored.

Gertrud Bojo
graduate student in Global Health
Lalputan is wrong
In response to Justin Lalputan’s article “Straight Edge on 4/20,” I was disappointed to read his unprovoked attack on marijuana users.
Lalputan’s article was a missed opportunity to discuss the impact of marijuana prohibition on students instead of referring to marijuana users as “addicted” or saying that they are “poisoning” their bodies.
I recommend that Lalputan and others research our current drug policies and marijuana studies because he appears to be grossly misinformed.
First, Lalputan says that “some facts, such as [marijuana’s] negative impact on lungs, are indisputable.”
I would refer Lalputan to the 15 states and the District of Columbia with legalized medical marijuana programs and countless studies proving the positive health effects of marijuana. Not one person has ever died from a marijuana overdose.
The war on drugs has sent millions of young people to jail for nonviolent victimless crimes. In 2009, over 850,000 citizens were arrested for marijuana-related activities.
Marijuana prohibition disproportionately targets African-Americans and Hispanics, sometimes at rates eight times that of whites. 4/20 is not only a day of celebration for stoners; it is a day to discuss the failure of marijuana prohibition.

Beckman Matthews
President, Mason Fair Drug Policy Project


1 Comment

  1. Kayley says:

    Response to “The Circus Protests”: Here’s more information:

    Do you think it’s okay or ethical to force wild animals to entertain humans?

    Response to “Lalputan is wrong”:Legalized medical marijuana is not the same as marijuana you get off the streets.