Rights and Reality

I saw a meme/poster/thing on Facebook that said “Every time something really bad happens, people cry out for safety and the government answers by taking rights away from good people.” The quote is attributed to Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller. Whether or not he actually said it, I’m not sure. I could google it but that would give too much credit to the quote.

People like to use the word “rights” to defend their actions. If you speak out and say something hateful, you have a right to freedom of speech. If you pull a gun on someone, you have a right to bear arms. Protest at a funeral, you have a right to free exercise of religious practices. They are entitled to these “rights”, yet they self-righteously deny people the right to love and marry. They have a right to be hateful. Guns in the hands of the wrong people gives them the right to be violent, but people are being denied the right to celebrate LOVE in a joyous union.

I also read on Facebook, a friend of a friend who commented on a status update about New Zealand passing a bill (convincingly I might add) giving the right for gays to marry. This FOF (friend of a friend) said they are “just not in favour of changing the definition of marriage.” Who defines what a marriage is? The bible? The church? I am married, but I don’t go to church and was not married in a church, so should my relationship be classified as something other than a “marriage”? “Give them the same rights and call it something else,” FOF argues. What does it matter what it’s called? Why is it so offensive to have it be called a MARRIAGE, just like it is for straight people? And tell me, how does it affect you? The only people who don’t want these rights for everyone are people who aren’t affected by it what so ever.

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Similarly, when something terrible happens, like the rape (and subsequent death) of the girl on the bus in India or the abduction and murder of Jill Meagher, people talk about our rights to be or go where we want to, when we want to, without being harmed.

I don’t deny that it should be a basic human right to be able to walk down any street at any time of day, on our own, and make it home safely. Sadly, I don’t think it is a reality. And as much as I’d like to tell my daughter, if I had one, that it is ok to walk alone in Surfers, at 3 am, is that the reality? Not really.

My mum was a single mother of three girls. One thing I always remember her telling us was to not put ourselves “in that situation.” This is not saying anyone is asking for it or that they deserve it or that they are in any way at fault for being where they are. NO ONE asks or deserves to be assaulted, abused, harmed in any way, much less murdered. And in a perfect world it wouldn’t happen, but it does.

What if could teach women that they can do or be whatever or whoever they want, but we also taught them to think twice, to question situations, that they don’t always have to be strong and independent. What if we taught them that there is nothing weak or wrong with having a friend walk you home? Because there may come a time that her actions and decisions in a certain situation save her life. You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do.

Every day I see news stories that make me wonder why we ever bought a child into this world. The most recent story was about 23 year old Sunil Tripathi – still so young – who was mistakenly identified as one of the Boston bombers from the security footage. This young man’s body was found in a river. With very little details available, it left me wondering if he had taken his own life or if someone had decided to take justice into their own hands. I worry about my son, as he grows up, what kind of trouble will he find himself in? Possibly by simply looking like someone who committed a terrible crime.

I wish I could believe in a world where our rights protect us, but it is not the world we live in today. It’s not the world that women in the middle east live in. It’s not the world the Newton, Connecticut children lived in. It’s not the world Sunil Tripathi or Jill Meagher lived in, either. Bad things happen. Sometimes foregoing some of our rights can stop them from happening. I guess the question is, what is more important?

Check out this video. Proof that people only want rights and laws when it suits them. Food for thought.

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Teaching Tuesday

I have a bee in my bonnet. And you see, when I get a bee in my bonnet, I tend to turn into Ranty McRantyPants. While watching the news yesterdayI heard about the governments new legislation to add a few more hoops to jump through for trainee teachers. They want to implement numeracy and literacy tests, aptitude tests, demonstrated values, written statements, community service…God knows what else, before they can graduate and become qualified teachers.

Don’t get me wrong. I think those things are all important, especially literacy. I think I told you the story about the enrolment letter we got from our 2nd choice of school for Nick. They sent home the enrolment package and the welcome letter was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. In my opinion, that’s not even close to good enough for an educational institution. It had the teacher’s name on the bottom of it, but I like to think it wasn’t her that typed it up and her eyes never saw it. I believe kids (and teachers!) NEED to know the difference between you’re and your, and they need to NOT write “ur”. I believe they need to know the difference between their, they’re, there.

Source: cafepress.com via Ashley on Pinterest

In my eyes, teaching is up there with the most important but least respected professions. Along with police, firefighters and nurses, just to name a few. We put our children in the hands of teachers for 12+ years of their lives. We* expect them to teach them to read, to write, to count and do their times tables. We expect them to be firm but kind. We expect them to be fair. We expect them to put up with attitudes (from students and parents!). We expect them to do all this and more, for little to no thanks, for pittance for pay. And then we say, “Oh teachers have it easy, they work 6 hours a day and get great holidays!” Anyone who knows a teacher, knows that is a load of crap.

Source: chattease.com via Angela on Pinterest

One of the guests on Sunrise yesterday made a really great point. Years ago, before women could be lawyers, doctors, anything they wanted to be, they were mostly teachers, nurses or secretaries. That made for a lot of really great teachers. Now days all the top graduates want to do something that pays well. Something that is more “respected.” What does that mean? The less-smart (?) ones have no choice but to be teachers? I don’t necessarily believe that, but I do think more could be done to make teaching a more appealing option.

It takes a really special person to be a teacher. It must truly be a calling to follow that dream. They put their heart, their soul, their time (yes, more than 6 hours a day!) into teaching our kids, who are the leaders of the future. Yet they are blamed for poor grades and threatened to have their pay sacrificed by the results of their students in naplan tests. Naplan testing, don’t even get me started on that! Then you have the parents. The parents who don’t want their kids to be disciplined at school, which are usually the parents who don’t discipline at home, either and expect miracles to happen at school! I’ve worked with parents before, and while there are always wonderful ones, you only ever seem to have to deal with the pains in the asses.

What makes me angry about these new government legislations is that any idiot or puppet can be a politician. And those are the people who are putting more and more pressure on teachers. Who are they to sit in a fancy room and come up with policies that affects a profession I’m guessing most of them have never had anything to do with? Teachers have my utmost respect. And it’s important for me to teach Nicklas that teachers are to be respected, too.

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Have you been in a classroom lately? Have you seen what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis? Do you think there should be tougher requirements on teachers?

*By we I mean “I”. I’m sure we all expect different things from teachers.
Linking up with the lovely Jess for IBOT, naturally, because that’s what we do on Tuesdays!

About The “Arm Everyone” Mentality

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Connecticut and the senseless loss of 27 lives, I’m sure I’m one of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will be blogging about shootings, guns, gun control, Americans, mental health and/or tragedy today, but I’m going to do it anyway. I have a lot to say on the issue. Who doesn’t?

I lived in the US for 11 years, and admit that at no time in that 11 years, did I fear for my safety, or think I was going to be shot dead. But I did work with 1200 children and their families, and I occasionally would think, “If one of these parents got angry enough, could they walk in here and kill us all?” Because in America, you never know who has a gun. I’m not sure American authorities know who has guns.

In Australia, we walk around in fair confidence that no one will stand up in a movie theater, school, shopping centre, restaurant and open fire on everyone. We have that fair confidence because the last time something like that happened, in Port Arthur in 1996, our government took action and established the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms. You can read about it more at the wikipedia article here. It clearly worked, as that is the last time an assault like that happened in our country.

These kinds of laws could very well save thousands of lives in the US. However the US has a little thing called a Constitution, in which the 2nd amendment (1791ish) states that all citizens have “the right to bear arms.” Keeping in mind the Constitution was written in the 1700s by men who thought it was OK to keep slaves and that women were second class citizens. It was also written in the civil war era. Many Americans take their right to bear arms very seriously and in fact think that everyone should own a firearm. That way people will be deterred from attacking others – for fear of retaliation. I’m not kidding, this is the mentality of (too) many Americans. I’ve read arguments this morning from “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” to “teachers should be armed, then this won’t happen.” Again, the theory being if a crazed gunman knows the teachers all have guns, he won’t go in and try to shoot anyone.

And that’s the first problem right there – assuming these crazy nut-jobs who do these things have any kind of rational or common sense thought. They don’t. No rational person walks into a school and shoots 20 innocent children.

The second problem is assuming that because a teacher is armed, casualties in these situations will be much fewer. Because the ultimate goal shouldn’t be less casualties, it should be less none of these situations in the first place! And also because they are teachers, not snipers. Do you think an armed man can walk into a classroom and out of the corner of his eye, the teacher spots him, draws his gun and shoots him dead before he can do anything? Are you living in La-La Land? Watched too many movies? Maybe we should just put Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalikes in all classrooms as protection?

The third, and biggest problem is thinking the mentality of “if we are all armed, no one will try anything for fear of retaliation” is ok. It is not ok. I should be free to go wherever I want without worrying about having to carry a gun so no one attacks me. If I wanted to live like that I’d move to Afghanistan/Serbia/Syria/{insert preferred war-torn-country-here}. This is not the culture I want to live in and it’s not the culture I want my child to live in.

In China, 22 children were stabbed by a mentally-ill intruder. None of them have died, though 1 plus the teacher are in critical condition. China has strict gun laws. And as a friend of mine said, “Thank God, or we’d have woken up in Australia to the news of 2 mass shootings.”

I think there is a place for guns. Hunting, target shooting, farming, law enforcement, military. I’m not even opposed to legal, responsible ownership of guns (but I don’t encourage it or like it). I AM opposed to how easy it is for people to get guns (in the US) and I AM opposed to the mentality that if more people were armed there’d be less violence. That is 1+1=3 maths. The shooter in the Aurora movie theater back in July had so much gun paraphernalia it is scary. Much of which he ordered ONLINE. Make it harder to get weapons, and less of these shootings would happen. Make it harder to get weapons, and maybe 20 children would be in school right now, getting excited about the upcoming Christmas holidays.

My thoughts and prayers are for peace, healing and comfort for all the families who have lost loved ones today.