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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Opinion Blog

Children's books with gay protagonists encouraging

By Olivia Dimmer          Last updated: 03/10/14 9:37pm         

Children’s books and media often have a very similar plot line: The knight slays the dragon, rescues the princess, and marries her. Then they live happily ever after.

But a new children’s storybook written by Daniel Errico, the author flips the script.

Yes, the knight slays the dragon and rescues the princess. But in “The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived,” the hero lives happily ever after with the prince.

The main character just happens to be gay.

“Cedric, the knight in the story, is a regular hero who happens to have a different idea for his happy ending than someone else might,” Errico told BuzzFeed in an email. “I hope that readers see that there is a bravery and beauty in being true to yourself. I believe it’s important to show kids different forms of love in a positive light instead of just one. Alternatively, avoidance could potentially put kids at a disadvantage towards understanding and acceptance later on in life.”

While Errico has been swarmed with support from the LGBT community, there has been some backlash from conservatives as well.

But despite that, Errico’s story is one that needs to be told – especially to young children.

For children who might grow up to be gay, reading a story about a hero they can identify with might help them feel less ostracized in the teenage and adult world.

For children who aren’t gay, this story can introduce them to diversity and act as a springboard for parents looking to talk to their children about people’s different sexual preferences.

Either way you frame it, this alternative storybook has one very happy ending.

I want to know why you hate country music

By Geoff Preston          Last updated: 02/27/14 10:10am         

You might not like country music, and that’s fine, we disagree. My question is why? And choose wisely because your answer is very important.

Maybe you’re like the scores of people that don’t like country because of the lack of broad topics discussed. All the country you’ve ever heard has been about beer, trucks and maybe the occasional love ballad about how she left the main character and took his Malboro Reds. Okay, you aren’t entirely wrong. But as a fan of country music I’d like you to consider the following:

What is rap about? Maybe there are occasional raps about overcoming poverty, or even true love, but what is 90 percent of it about? Money, strippers and life crippling, addictive drugs.

This is coming from a fan of rap as well. I think Kanye West’s College Dropout might be my favorite piece of music ever created.

One thing I don’t do when listening to rap is think: “Wow, what a diverse range of topics discussed! This truly is a insightful portrait of all the facets of American society!” Because no one thinks that. Music is supposed to invoke emotion in people, and when I am in a certain mood, rap, country, Taylor Swift (yup) or any other host of musical options heightens that mood and does what it is designed to do.

Not everyone likes country, nor is everyone supposed to like country. If a banjo makes you want to punch a wall, fine. If southern accents make you want to projectile vomit, maybe don’t turn to the country song. Even if you aren’t a fan of the topics country music takes on I find that more admirable than if you don’t like it because it isn’t diverse enough. Music in general might be about 10 different things. If you are picking your music based on diversity of sounds or lyrics, good luck with filling up that iPod.

Winter Olympics were not engaging

By Erik Sargent          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:11pm         

After competitions lasted for the good portion of the month of February, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi finally ended this past weekend.

The United States finished second in the total medal count behind host Russia and it was another solid showing for our country. But when all was said and done, I only had one feeling about the Olympics: it still doesn’t mean anything to me.

As bad as that sounds, it’s hard to have any emotional investment in the Winter Olympics. It’s important to have loyalty to your country and cheer them on in all of the events but in today’s society, paying attention to the Olympics is difficult.

The Olympics are such an interesting event because on paper, it should be taking over everyone’s television and should be a main topic of discussion.
But when I asked other people, they all admitted that they don’t really watch the Olympics for various reasons.

Outside of the major events like ice hockey and anything involving snowboarding, there aren’t too many people worried about the results of speed skating or ice luge. That’s just the nature of the world we live in.

There aren’t any events outside of maybe the men’s hockey that could rival any sporting event happening here in America. And with all the Olympic events being nine hours behind, it’s hard to stay up to date.

If you get on Twitter, you’re most likely going to see the scores from events that happened before they air on television here, so it makes watching the events pointless.

Add all of this together with the fact that it’s hard to get a good idea of what’s happening in the first place and you see what makes it hard for people to stay interested in.

As a fan of sports, I struggle keeping up with the Olympics because it doesn’t carry the excitement level that football or basketball does. Until it becomes more relatable to the average person, I think it is going to stay this way.

MSU Counseling Center is beneficial, but needs more therapists

By Kary Askew Garcia          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:09pm         

The MSU Counseling Center has been subject to criticism by many students who’ve said they had bad experiences.

After reading some of the responses to Scott Becker’s letter to The State News, I was compelled to think of my own personal experiences with the center.

My junior year, I was going through a difficult time and I decided to seek help at the MSU Counseling Center.

After meeting with an initial counselor to set me up with a therapist, I was told there was no one available to see me and there were 30 students ahead of me on a waiting list to get in.

I was forced to seek counseling in the community and ended up with a therapist in Okemos, spending thousands of dollars to get the mental health treatment I needed. Despite having insurance, it didn’t include very many mental health benefits, making my treatment costly.

But in addition to seeing an individual therapist, I joined two different groups at the counseling center the following semester that I found extremely beneficial to my functionality.

I was able to handle my depression and anxiety much better because I learned how to manage those overwhelming emotions. I was also able to express my feelings and hear what other people had to say.

Eventually, I was able to get treatment for free since I met up with a counselor who led one of the groups for individual counseling and no longer had to pay to see my therapist in Okemos.

I think the Counseling Center is doing the best they can, but I am not the only one who has been in a situation of having to find help elsewhere.

The counseling center should have more therapists available to talk to students, and hiring four in five years is not enough.

Not everyone has the money to pay for therapy elsewhere, and the Counseling Center should be aware of that and be more accommodating to students’ needs.

Personal clothing choices are no one else's business

By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:04pm         

Seeing a modestly clad woman in an advertisement is a rarity these days.

That fact gave rise to a dramatic response from Utah mom Judy Cox.

As a mother of an 18 year-old-son, she noticed T-shirts displayed in the window of the popular surf shop Pacsun. Cox decided they were inappropriate.

The shirts, which featured “scantily dressed models in provocative poses,” irked Cox deeply enough that after complaining to store employees to no avail, she remedied the situation another way.

She purchased every single T-shirt they had in stock. The 19 shirts she bought totaled almost 600 dollars.

The needle of moral compass points in a different direction dependent on an individual’s point of view. When it comes to how much skin is bared in ads, there are several existing opinions on what is right and wrong.

The amount of clothing a person chooses to don is not up for communal decision, except for public decency laws. For Cox to limit the options available to fellow citizens and disregard their pursuit of happiness is a transgression.

We see students exercising their right to wear what they choose by clothing themselves in short-shorts and tank tops in the warmer months of fall semester. That choice is theirs alone and should not be infringed upon.

There comes a time when it isn’t necessary to prohibit others from purchasing something you don’t find appealing. Just don’t buy it.

People are still wearing Crocs, aren’t they?

Alcohol shouldn't be sold to students at on-campus athletic events

By Ben Stram          Last updated: 02/21/14 11:33am         

One night changed Bryan Stow’s life forever.

The court case has finally closed between Stow and two Los Angeles Dodgers fans that left Stow brain damaged and disabled on opening day of the 2011 season.

The two men, Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez, plead guilty to the beating today.

Two witnesses who attended that game said that Sanchez, who pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was handed an eight-year prison term, was throwing peanuts and spraying soda on a women in the stands.

His sister also testified that Sanchez was drunk.

This might be why MSU refuses to allow alcohol consumption at their sporting events other than in their premium seats. Students can be reckless at times, especially when drinking a substantial amount.

Some students already go to the games heavily intoxicated and that causes enough problems alone. Imagine students being allowed to drink at games with big rivals like Michigan. Who knows what problems might occur inside and outside the stadium if drinking were allowed during the game?

The foul language that can be heard between the two schools would escalate and issues would arise.

There is no way they would allow alcohol consumption during men’s basketball games as the IZZONE, which surrounds the court, would be more wild than ever.

Are we mature enough to handle this?

In April 2012, Minnesota Governor Mark Davis signed a bill allowing alcohol sales through halftime at TCF Bank Stadium, where University of Minnesota’s football team plays. This allowed Minnesota students to drink at games.

Minnesota is the only Big 10 school to allow alcohol sales throughout the whole stadium. Eight other Big 10 schools that sell alcohol in the stadium limit the consumption to the premium seats only and three Big 10 schools don’t sell alcohol at all.

Premium seats are where the drinks should stay. It requires responsibility to drink at these games, and the last things we need are serious injuries as a result of alcohol on campus at MSU.

Naked Dating reality show reveals too much

By Casey Holland          Last updated: 02/19/14 6:59pm         

The TV Guide is about to have another reality dating show added to its ranks, but this one will be stripped of everything the others have. Literally.

VH1’s most recent addition to its lineup is “Naked Dating,” an hour-long show that will air once a week.

As for what the show is about, the title says it all — a man and a woman are shipped off to an exotic location where they will spend time with two different, and naked, dates. Before the episode comes to a close, the man and woman both analyze their dates and decide whether or not they’ll continue to see either of them.

However, contestants won’t only be stripped of their clothes. They also leave behind certain belongings, such as their cellphones. According to a VH1 blog, the show is meant to determine whether finding love would be easier if there was nothing to hide.

Again, literally.

Already seeing your suitor naked is supposed to reduce the shock factor that could come later on in the relationship. While the show does have a few redeeming qualities, such as stripping contestants of their phones, stripping them of their clothes is not one of them.

I get that the show wants to help people “bare all” to each other right away, but that defeats the purpose of a relationship’s journey in the first place.

Relationships are meant to have surprises, especially when it comes to seeing one other’s naked bodies for the first time. It’s a personal experience that should be more intimate than a first date in front of a national audience.

Honestly, taking away the “shock factor” of this would probably be more harmful than helpful to a relationship. Taking away the surprises takes away part of the fun that comes with getting to know a person over a period of time.

If the show wants to build personal connections right away, taking away the phones is a good step. Taking away the clothes feels like a tool to reel in viewers over anything else.

Removing the shock factor isn’t a way to build a strong relationship — it’s only taking out a necessary aspect of a relationship’s journey.

Reporter wrong to badger an emotional Bode Miller

By Juliana Moxley          Last updated: 02/18/14 11:11pm         

Winning an award is a time for congratulatory interviews and positive thoughts, but that was not the case for Bode Miller after he won a bronze medal in the men’s super-G ski race.

Some say NBC reporter and former Olympic medalist Christin Cooper pried Miller for the facts about his younger brother’s death, causing him to break into a whirlwind of emotion and tears. Miller’s brother passed away last year, which perhaps is still too much of a fresh wound for reporters to continually question.

During the interview, which was pre-taped and still aired in full-length on NBC, Cooper referenced Miller’s brother and the moment he won the race, which led Miller to tear up. After seeing him get emotional during the interview, Cooper continued to question him instead of transitioning to another topic which is what it appeared Miller was trying to do.

Miller and the public took to the Internet to voice their opinions on the intense interview — and the majority of which were against Cooper’s harsh interviewing tactics. Miller defended Cooper in his tweets on Monday, saying he appreciates people sticking up for him but they should “be gentle” with Cooper.

In a statement made by NBC, they said the intent of broadcasting the interview was to channel the emotions felt by Miller. However, most people thought Cooper was pushing too far to get a good story and crossed the line. Cooper’s journalism ethics during her interview with Miller are left to be questioned.

Break away from the norms this spring break

By Michael Kransz          Last updated: 02/17/14 10:04pm         

While many students are tanning and working out, I will be plotting a course on a map and filling my car with gasoline. Because the road trip is a lost art.

I won’t argue the merits of spring break location, ranking an arctic voyage above the traditional hot-weather-and-beer laze. I argue we examine which is more vital to the road trip, destination or exploration.

Who said learning halts when midterms end? Unfamiliar landscapes, cities and people can foster inspiration and awareness. They bring perspectives that can resonate with us.

We should utilize our spring breaks by carving the back roads and high ways like the first travelers of the Silk Road, discovering the fragrances and spices of new worlds.

But exotic is not requisite for a road trip. In fact, a road trip is far from it. It’s simply requires seeking the unfamiliar at a highly mobile rate.

The unfamiliar are those destinations we’ve overlooked.

Whether it’s 30 miles or 300 miles, the unfamiliar hides within the every twist and turn we’ve driven past.

They’re the coffee shops and antique stores, they’re the winding trails and hidden streams, they’re the dance clubs and matinees.

They’re the side notes, the distractions to the everyday point A to point B monotony.

A road trip isn’t as much definite destination as it is spontaneity. A road trip is the let’s-see-where-this-leads mentality.

A road trip is a compilation of soon-to-be stories.

MSU should bring more live music, concerts to campus

By Erik Sargent          Last updated: 02/16/14 8:01pm         

If there is one thing that almost every college kid can connect to, it might be music.

Sure, a student body as big as MSU’s is sure to have a very large diversity of musical tastes, but in general, there are few people who don’t like music and few students who can’t appreciate a fantastic live performance or concert.

So with MSU’s large campus and vast resources, it’s shocking how little live music there is on campus.

There’s music in local bars, but what campus is missing is a good concert scene. If you want to go to a concert as a student here, more than likely you are going to have to drive to the Lansing area to find one.

As a music junkie myself, I would love to see many more concerts here on campus, whether they be at the MSU Auditorium or another venue.

Obviously, you are never going to get major headlining acts to come to such small venues, but that’s not what’s expected. There are plenty of smaller bands that could come through and play shows. It would be a great experience for everyone, not to mention an affordable night out and an alternative to yet another night of binge drinking.

From all accounts, back in the 1980s, there were numerous bands that would roll through East Lansing that later went on to become famous, including U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Where is that music selection today?

In a college town with so many people, concerts would be a big attraction and would also give students another form of entertainment throughout the year besides the standard bar and frat party scene.

I still hear stories from people like my parents, talking about the amazing concerts they went to as students here, and I would like to do the same.