This sort of thing!

Facebook is useful for many things.  Debates notwithstanding.  It’s a veritable forum for a number of inciting subjects.  I don’t want to be a pissant but I mean… I can’t help but say what I feel.   If you’ve ever been on this blog I think it’s apparent that I am that girl that raises her hand and cries, “Comment!” 

This sort of thing never stops and it is annoying.  My question stems from the timeworn motherly advice: If you have nothing nice to say, why say it at all?  But in this case if you don’t care why say anything at all!  It wastes your tmie and mine!

My friend Krista sprung up the subject of Obama’s upcoming address to students.

Name has been blocked to protect the source identity of irrationality embodied.

Whatever.  Obama is the voice of many political processes going on but that doesn’t mean he is the sole person to blame.  Often times as citizens we seem to forget this… unfortunately for the haters (and this excludes people who  simply disagree with some of his cabinet’s policies) the more they blame him the more power they give to him. 

According to what I’ve read, “the President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.”  The objections are coming BEFORE the speech has even been given.  As far as I know most of the complaints are that he is speaking to children and not to adults.  Not believing in what children can do on their own is something that bothers the shit out of me.  Do you remember being young?  Do you ever remember feeling like people had little to no faith in you?  Do you know how crappy that feels now, even in adulthood when that feeling comes creeping back?  The significant times where Young Geena felt like a “Big Girl” is when I had taken the initiative to pursue what I wanted, with or without someone’s help.  That starts with encouragement.  A jumpstart.  A push.  To have your teacher push you is one thing, but to have the president push you?  That’s a waaaay different impact.

Another source of complaint is that parents feel like they have no say and it rubs them the wrong way.  If a parent feels like their educational interests lie outside the realm of their kids’ interests, it’s not the end of the world.  My mom and dad aren’t as interested as I am in music, but can you imagine if they had objected to my enrollment in the amazing music programs I was lucky to be in from 5th grade through  highschool?  It’s as if the parents who are anxious about this speech are worried their kids will want to learn about wayward lifestyles and sexual depravity.  Give me a break.  We learn about that in college.  Kids are still kids.  Even the most pottymouth, delinquent kid deserves a chance to learn what he wants to learn, and it’s probably not a course in Ebonics because that doesn’t even make sense culture-wise.  For all we know that pottymouth wants to learn how to use his mouth for better things, like blowing into a trumpet. 

Bottom line is.  I know how much people pick at diction but a speech is just a speech.  What listeners will do with the information depends on the power of the words.  A speech is meant to get people moving.  Move in whatever direction you want, it matters not to me.  Just MOVE.  As for ol’ Blackbar up there, at least give the speech a chance and then react.  In a positive or a negative way, I don’t care.  Just react.  It means you’re engaged which in turn means your opinions are at least valid and not a squander of human thought.  


6 comments on “This sort of thing!”

  1. well, geen – it’s been a long, unspoken understanding between us that i’m a republican; here’s an instance where it comes into play. i agree with the beginning of the article that the public school/education system is under state governance, not the federal government. they cannot all be equally and fairly managed everywhere effectively by the fed. to your argument that the dissent is unfair because it is happening before the speech has been made,i put this to you: many politicians (like salesmen) will advertise their messages and purposes in the most appealing way possible, just to get their foot in the door – an example would be someone starting off a sales call with, “do you have time for me to tell you how this deal can save you money?” well, of course i’d have time for that, but is that truly your goal? also, one has to consider obama’s sliding popularity – many who voted for him are disappointed by his failure to do what he had promised. many are disillusioned by his so-called “health care reform”, as well as the much-earlier-than-expected shutting down of the “cash for clunkers” program and other obama sanctioned mini “stimulus” plans. finally and personally, i feel obama needs to stay out of the schools in the physical form – i agree with bush sr.’s tactic of televised speech giving. obama should instead make a televised speech directed to the children/students of america, and if parents/teachers/schools so choose, they can demonstrate their disapproval by turning off the set.

    • i DON’T suppose the dissent to the speech is “unfair,” as you say. i DO think it is uncalled for. as for the salesman analogy, to reduce the speech to something equal to a lobbyist’s monologue or a salesman’s pitch seems inappropriate. it assumes dishonesty, scamming, or brainwashing is in the works. salesman or president — they are both trying to do their job. i say let them do their job. make your choice accordingly after having heard their story. as a business major, gloria, you probably value the act of speech a lot; you must know that positive results take conviction, excellent communicative and persuasive skills, AND a willing listener to “get your foot in the door.” that being said, business is not politics. the idea of politics in the US are based on citizen involvement, and if citizens choose not to be involved, we are at square one. whether or not you are republican or democrat i think that’s a point on which we coincide.

      as i pointed out earlier in the entry, i understand people have strong opinions of obama but to refuse to even lend an ear is an ad hominem fallacy. so would blindly agreeing with everything he said. either extreme is idiotic. what i do find unfair is during bush’s presidency, how many times were citizens disillusioned by him? in fact, how many times did he disappoint citizens? the word “disillusion” conjures up the idea that obama has been built upon illusions. often times when people are disillusioned both parties are at fault: the one who created the image, and the one who believed in it. as for failed plans, that is a part of politics. i would rather see honest mistakes occur than hidden atrocities (coughENRON).

      intelligent citizens will have their guard up, i’m sure. everyone had their guard up whenever bush would take the podium and apologize for disappointing. people still listened, didn’t they? i agree with you that parents have the right to demonstrate their disapproval. however, teachers do not. i know that teachers have become these kind of “babysitting” figures, but that is NOT their job. their job is to teach and to bring information to the table. often, they can’t even choose what’s on the curriculum. turning off the tv set does more harm (for those who fear the speech) than anything because what will those kids do when the object of their curiosity has been censored? they’ll most likely go search for it themselves. the speech will become taboo. it already has by raising the issue to outlandish proportions and the proposed boycott, which was what i touched upon in my entry. the more you avoid something, the more control/power/whatever-you-want-to-name-it you give it. how do you think obama won! most likely it was a result of all the hype he received, positive OR negative.

      i don’t understand the need for a boycott. a knight doesn’t put on a suit of armor and then just skip the battle altogether. let those kids dip their hands into something “dirty” and form their own opinions.

  2. ok, let me just start by saying that i think most of what’s being said about this speech thing is pretty ridiculous. here’s why:

    having students listen to a speech the president makes in which he will specifically and exclusively be addressing the topic of education is not pernicious. i’m sure the speech will be innocuous, cheesy, and fleetingly inspirational. kids will ‘study hard’ for like the rest of the week, and then they’ll most likely forget about it. also, the after-speech-activities seem equally harmless. there’s nothing “strategic” about having students write a pretend letter to the president or to themselves about what they can do to “help him out.” and there’s nothing political about having a student answer a question like ‘what is the president inspiring/challenging you to do in this speech you just listened to?’ it’s straightforward question. inherently it doesn’t presuppose any kind of reverence for the president or any agreement with what he says or his politics. he is a politician, correct, but nothing about this is political per-say. children cannot and will never be able to vote for him. also, none of this is “political indoctrination,” which, for the record, i think is very serious and am staunchly opposed to.

    what exactly are parents afraid of here? that their children will be manipulated and brainwashed? that their children are being forced into some horrible deed and will endure some kind of suffering or anguish? that their children, when capable, will not vote republican? that their child’s morals are at stake? come one. plus, don’t parents still have the right to exempt their children from any lessons they find ‘inappropriate,’ this one included?

    as for the concerns of the school board members (like barbara cargill), if they don’t think their public school teachers can tactfully, carefully, and prudently discuss something as relevant as ‘what they president has to say about public education’ in an educational environment without “ostracizing their students,” then this is the real issue.

    that fact that this (non)issue has even been politicized just goes to show how in trouble our country is. there’s a serious lack of involvement of students in activities like this speech-viewing one in public classrooms–the kind that engage their active listening, critical thinking, and deductive reasoning skills. i’d say it’s been like this for quite some time, too. why do i say this? because the grave consequence/aftereffect of this problem is staring us all right in the face; a public that is unable to differentiate demagoguery, political indoctrination and coercion from a harmless educational exercise.

    it seems to me like most concerns being voiced here can not only be addressed but beckon an actual problem. a serious one. that parents don’t know how to talk to their children intelligently about politics or education. that teachers don’t know how to quell the irrational fears that parents have about this lesson. that the public suffers from the inability to clearly, thoughtfully and productively talk about complex issues. too often we are unable to address the pertinent problems, like those with our public education system, without it being reduced down to some nonsensical, hyperbolic, political drivel. i’m not saying that obama’s speech is going to solve any of these big problems, and i’m not denying that this lesson is mildly controversial (in that it is upsetting people..but for bad reasons…). but students need to be exposed to a little controversy and complicated issues once in a while. for one, it builds character! also, how else are they to learn how to rationally think for themselves and not fall prey to ignorance, manipulation, simple-mindedness?

    • you raise a funny point: these kids will probably be back to whatever they were doing afterward. i agree that this will probably be the cheesiest speech ever, complete with references to high school musical and ipods. the assumption that this is a sort of “political indoctrination” is insulting. first, the parents with the pitchforks are assuming their kids are dumb enough to be brainwashed. if the parents believe their kids to be that feeble-minded, many but not all signs point to their parenting skills, like you mention.

      fiddlesticks! the computer lab is going to close in 10 minutes. basically i agree and anything i say will just be addendums. thanks for such a great response.

  3. Everything I could possibly say about this issue has been said; I tend to go with what Gloria asserts here. So i’ll hit at some smaller points 🙂
    You say that “Obama is the voice of many political processes going on but that doesn’t mean he is the sole person to blame.”, but then you go on to say in a response, “what i do find unfair is during bush’s presidency, how many times were citizens disillusioned by him? in fact, how many times did he disappoint citizens?”. He too was one man, following the advice and instruction of those closest to him, taking much to be true. By the time he realized he was being played by even his own VP it was too late. It’s inevitable to consider what goes on at the White House to be the President’s fault, even though we have built democracy to prevent that exact thing from happening. It’s like being the pitcher at a baseball game, no matter how many errors your teammates make– victory or loss is on his shoulders.

    I digress.

    I watched the speech, I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I do object to those like my brother being ‘required’ to watch it during school hours, as he was this week. He is not of feeble mind, and makes many of his own choices. Think of 1984, everyone was required to pause and listen to the announcements being made on the telescreens. These next few things I say are because of what I have seen advertising do.

    To think politics isn’t business is a sore mistake. We as citizens are involved whether we choose to be or not, politics determines our very livelihood and the way we may or may not be able to live it. So dissent, however silly it may be is feasible and understandable. Where would we be if we weren’t allowed to express these opinions?

    The only way individuals get elected is through careful and precise marketing of themselves and their so-called ’cause’. Think of it this way. Was it solely the the ideas, the things Obama wanted to accomplish if elected that got him in office, or the way that it was presented? Everyone was ready for “Change” even if they didn’t know what that change entailed. But the bottom line is, parties hire the PR firms and the Ad agencies that they think we present their platform through the most effective medium, in the most luring way. The parties pick the man that they think will be the most effective in conveying the image called for by the nation at the moment. Nixon lost an election because of his looks and nervousness, to the younger, better looking Kennedy. They make these choices and hope for the best, but as Palin can clearly illustrate– that sometimes hurts more than helps. So who’s to say this isn’t just another PR move at the expense of the nation’s children for a president whose approval numbers are dropping drastically? ‘I’m giving you uplifting encouragement, remember me, stick with me, vote for my side when your time comes.’

    I am not saying that the president had any ulterior motives in his educational speech, but it’s the principle behind it. I would have the same opinion of a Republican candidate.

    Just because you say “I make all of my own choices, nothing influences me unless I choose to let it”, doesn’t make that true. Let’s take advertising. What kind of shampoo do you use? Why? That brand probably targets you specifically, even if you say– well I just walked into the store and bought the first one I thought looked good. Or did you?

    The things we say to children can have a lasting effect that no one can fully predict. So yes, it’s great to stay in school, it’s acceptable to encourage that. But who is saying it? It should be everyone. You don’t think that parents are influenced by the fact that their children are being spoken to by someone they consider to be great and powerful?

    • you raise so many excellent points. thank you for embedding your viewpoint with what you know about advertising. i love hearing friends get so into what they studied and it’s an interesting way to see it. i especially chewed upon your comment about 1984. very true.

      anyway, the funny thing about the claim to “making all of my own choices and nothing influencing me unless i choose to let it,” is that nearly every choice we end up making are confined by the very framework of choices we have. however, i’m not sure where that fits in here. that statement can go many directions, and i’m not sure which direction you were headed. so the only way i can respond is by saying that because we are faced by media constantly — which is the consequence of what, owning a TV, or having a thirst for knowledge, or simply having eyes, anything really — we have to choose what will influence us. we can’t just say “i will not pay attention to this; therefore, i will not be influenced.” but that is the exact point i was trying to press. take a look at what happened at the VMAs. for the life of me i can’t get away from facebook statuses about kanye being a doucebag. of course that’s not exactly novel news, but it still made me curious enough to go check it out for myself. simply being awake puts you in a position to be influenced. so while i do think i was wrong to disrespect someone’s right to dissent and not listen, i stand by my opinion that i think it does more harm than good when it comes to getting the most out of the politics that influence (there’s that magic word again) your life.

      when i say that obama isn’t the sole person to blame, i’m not saying the blame should be evenly spread. i don’t think there should be blame at all. but blame is what happens when so much stock is placed upon a person/a group/an entity/what have you. by using the bush reference, my aim was not to point fingers, but to say what happens when blame is dependent on the actions of one single person. it’s unfair to expect perfection, whether it be obama or bush. it’s an indubitable human reaction to blame, but that doesn’t mean that it moves things along. the speech could very well have been a move to remain at the forefront of people’s minds, but… i don’t see what’s too wrong with that. people do that all the time. friends, even. the first example i can think of is when someone i haven’t heard from in a long time calls me or messages me out of nowhere. is there this initial “what does he/she want? surely there is something that they want out of this communication?” sometimes, yeah. not all the time. at my most suspicious and shrewd, i think like that. but that’s not how i want to view someone i voted for. as for those who didn’t vote for him, it’s totally understandable to want to scrutinize motives, but it’s not like the spectulated motives are a surprise or malignant.

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