The responsibility journalists have to promote the truth and stories of others has been in jeopardy for the past year. I believe it is a vital time to be a journalist and to not back down from the hardships the media is enduring at the moment. Knowing that my work can be impactful to my school and plenty of others gears my content toward the absolute truth.
As I became more involved in the media program, my voice in politics grew as well. The biggest portion of politics comes hand-in-hand with opinion, which I have quite a voice about. Earlier this year I encountered a situation in which my opinions met my speaking platform.
I addressed a student in an underlying argument article that I published on VistaNow.org. I felt it was important to speak how I felt about the current political and social climate in America.
I received criticism and distasteful comments about my opinion article. Instead of feeling belittled by the backlash, it only empowered me to seek the truth in every aspect of journalism.
The article that got people talking, enabled me to speak on a professional and academic platform and inspired my co-editors to pursue political writing is below.
Disclaimer: This is one hundred percent my opinion on the current political and social climate in the United States.
I know that I am not the first person to speak up about the recent events of the white nationalism and Nazi terrorist acts in Charlottesville, but the fact that last night I couldn’t focus long enough to write my English essay (sorry Mr. Brandt), is a sign that I at least needed to jot something down.
I enjoy Twitter for the good memes and the ability to network people from around the globe, but in the recent year, it has allowed me to become more politically involved, aware and attached. Last night I got a message from someone I expected to be nothing more than a high school friend, that, “I should stop tweeting about Trump lol.”
I had been steaming due to that comment for over an hour. I believe that we are extremely affluent here at Mountain Vista and in Highlands Ranch, a particularly privileged part of the world. The comment I received rubbed me the wrong way because of the disrespect, ignorance and blatant need for conformity our society as a whole throws around.
One of the truly unfortunate disgraces in today’s society is the silence from the President of the United States. Donald Trump acknowledged the brutal, harmful, murderous acts of the white nationalists and Nazis but he failed to admit that it goes against everything that America stands for.
Our country has been home to improvement and hope over the course of its history. If “Making America Great Again” is to erase our nation’s progress and replace it with the hate crimes, destruction, domestic abuse and murder, similarly to the early-to-mid 1900s, then I want no part in it. Someone drove their car into a crowd of counter protesters, leaving one dead and many hurt. This is not the America our ancestors have worked for. The United States of America has always been a home, an opportunity and a glimmer of hope to the less fortunate countries around the world.
I believe that anyone who does not seek to change and improve the current political and social climate in the United States is not only throwing away our generation’s future, but empowering these appalling acts of true terrorism and destruction to continue. The hate speech crimes and disrespect towards the minority groups and protestors are exactly why the time to speak up is now. I’m afraid that if we don’t use our voices to spread the word and get people involved, the appalling acts, lives lost and issues unsolved will slide through the cracks into the foundation of our future.
So, no I won’t stop tweeting about Trump, because not only is it MY twitter page with MY beliefs, it is my First Amendment right to have freedom of speech.
And to my former high school friend, unfollow me for all I care.
When in Indianapolis in the fall of 2016, my staff members and I received backlash from students at our school for attending an anti-Trump protest a couple days after the 2016 presidential election. We were criticized for being "too liberal" with our produced content at the time. Although in MVM we are not a solely liberal-based program, the staff who were present, decided there was no harm in publishing our intended content.
Since there was a non-academic, newsworthy event, one block from our journalism convention's hotel, of course five aspiring journalists were going to attend. Political views aside, I learned how there were plenty of people who needed their stories shared that were literally just around the corner. In our current climate as journalists, I learned then that although many won't like what we have to say, the truth will find a way to be heard.
//CONNER DAVIS, EMMA FRIESEN, LAUREN IRWIN, GANNON RUSHALL & AUSTIN SACK//
Anti-Trump Protest Shakes Indianapolis
Close to one thousand protesters attended an Anti-Donald Trump rally outside of the Indiana State Capitol tonight, Nov. 12.
Men, women and others who identified as a non-binary gender stood atop the steps outside of the Capitol and spoke to a rowdy crowd holding signs.
“I have been listening to you guys chant and shout ‘no borders, we accept immigrants,” one Latino speaker said. “Let’s not make it a chant. Let’s make it an action.”
President-elect Trump stated that he wishes to bar Muslims from entering the United States, and later changed that promise to only ban those who come from a nation that has fallen to terrorism.
One of Trump’s more famous claims is that he will build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it. Whether or not it will actually happen is still unknown.
“Currently we are working all over the nation to gather activists who will boycott Trump’s bigger supporters, because only that way will they see that the immigrant community has too much labor and economy to not offer,” he continued, concluding his speech.
An important argument against Trump’s immigration policy is that if illegal immigrants were to be completely eliminated from the U.S. economy, it would suffer rather than prosper due to the sudden lack of laborers who typically work for less than the minimum wage. That and the popular opinion that if someone wants to pursue happiness in the US, they should be able to shoot for that.
Those who listened packed the lawn, sidewalks and stone pillars around the steps leading to the Capitol. Many of them held signs with various slogans including, “love trumps hate,” “do not normalize hate,” “education not deportation,” and “he’s not my president.”
“I think it’s important to exercise our right to free assembly from the Constitution [since] Trump is trying to obviously stifle our rights, women’s rights, every race and deport everybody. It’s ridiculous,” Christine Picco said, holding a sign that said, “NOPE, I will NOT RELAX.”
Many were surprised, sad and even scared when they heard Trump had won the election.
“I cried,” Picco said. “I cried for a long time because I know a lot of people personally and a lot of minorities and a lot of people who are in jeopardy of being deported. It should not ever come to that. 11 million people, that’s ridiculous.”
Though many are scared for themselves or friends being deported, an equally large number are worried for their children’s future in the US.
“I gotta think about my children and my niece and nephew because their futures are going to be impacted,” Louis Thomas said. “If we do not do anything, we are in trouble. This needs to be a wake-up call. We gotta be prepared, we gotta be vigilant, we gotta be consistent because there are going to be difficult days ahead.”
Thomas is referring to the wave of violent hate crimes that have been committed against in the short time that Trump has been Presidential Elect.
“I would be more worried about how people like my son, who is autistic, how they can get special care to thrive in society,” Randy Coomer said. “I am concerned for my younger kids who will soon head to college. I am also concerned for my future with the anti-health programs they are putting in.”
At one point a large military truck circled the block with a Trump presidential campaign sign attached to both sides. After protesters noticed the large vehicle, they rushed over to the intersection it stopped at and prevented it from moving any further.
Police interfered quickly, some even shoving the protesters back to the sidewalk causing some to drop their phones and cameras.
Speakers continued taking turns and inspiring those before them while others marched around the block, chanting “love trumps hate,” and “whose streets? Our streets.”
According to one protester, many started filing into the streets, causing police forces to create road blocks for five blocks west of the Capitol.
At 9:15, a small group of protesters who remained at the State Capitol disbanded, leaving the streets of Indianapolis quiet once again.
“I want to raise the level of equality [in] America so there really is a land of opportunity and hope, instead of just for the few,” Coomer said.
The link to the entirety of our news package from the protest is here.
Most recently, I posted an opinion article on VistaNow. I was quite emotional about the shootings in the Parkland community. I knew that writing about it would help. Since it hit so close to home after the previous threats surfacing Mountain Vista, it was a difficult article to write. I'm proud of what I wrote and enjoy using my voice to write articles about current events in the world.
Craving for Control
I cried before I went to school today.
I ache for the students and teachers who lost their lives on Feb 14. My heart goes out to the families of Majority Stoneman Douglas High School and its surrounding community.
I cried because hearing the gun shots in the videos that went viral rang out a little too close to home.
I cried because I shouldn’t be scared to walk into my high school. I shouldn’t live in fear for my life while I’m trying to graduate. The fact of the matter is, no one should live in fear of being killed by a bullet.
Although thousands of tweets were sent out sending the Parkland community thoughts and prayers, the tweets won’t cut it. Contrary to Tomi Lahren’s tweets, this is about guns. There must be a time for action. The time is now.
According to Daily News, there have been 18 school shootings in the last 45 days. 45 days. It is a statistic that is making headline news across the country.
Lori Alhadeff, mother of 14-year-old Douglas shooting victim, Alyssa, pleads the government to “do something now,” on her interview with CNN. In her extremely emotional interview, it exemplifies how your thoughts and your prayers aren’t going to do anything.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to bring back the lives of the murdered. In a sad reality, nothing will. The resolution, the consolation prize, the best way to honor the lives of the murdered, is to advocate until we’re blue in the face for improved gun control.
The term “common sense gun control” is prevalent now more than ever. As much as I’d like to, we cannot ban all guns. Common sense gun control is the understanding and acceptance of the second amendment. Yet, an additional understanding and acceptance for the damage and trauma that assault rifles have cost millions of people.
I’m not saying we need to run to video game stores and burn up every copy of Call Of Duty, take away every kid’s Nerf gun and to censor movies about violence. I’m saying that the first step to preventing school shootings comes from within. Providing suitable outlets in schools to students struggling with depression will not only lessen the number of conflicted young gunmen, but reduce levels of desperation in the depressed.
Additionally, administering in-depth background checks when purchasing any ammunition and guns is vital. For example, Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, wasn’t given a second look when he purchased more than 700 rounds of ammunition. If that didn’t raise red flags, I don’t know what will.
Lastly, we can’t stop at just the background checks. I believe that to reduce the number of mass shootings across America, there must be mental health audits. And continual mental health audits for that matter.
The way these things must be funded is through the government. As many parents of Sandy Hook victims and the most recent Parkland shooting have said, we need the government to take action. This is the first step to common sense gun control.
According to Tom McHale and Ammoland, the AR-15 was originally designed to gain commercial success and to eventually make its way into the military field. It was not designed to be smashing windows in classrooms and killing innocent students. The time is now to face the reality about assault rifles such as the AR-15.
Two years ago, Mountain Vista dealt with a similarly complicated situation. Although a gunman didn’t walk the halls of my school, I remember the threats surfacing. I read the journals of Brooke Higgins and Sienna Johnson. I had classes with them. I remember the uncertainty I felt as I walked into school the next morning, trying to go on with my school work.
Similarly to Parkland’s recent gunman, Higgins and Johnson knew the layout of their school. They knew where we would run and hide in a crisis. Nothing was stopping them from pulling the fire alarms and shooting into the windows. And in 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz’s case, nothing–even a rifle– was stopping him.
I call myself and my school lucky. We live in a part of the world with plenty of amenities at our fingertips. The news that students, who I would see in the halls and in my classrooms wanted to kill me and the other students took a bit to set in.
The reason that the deaths and another school shooting hit me so hard was because that could have been me.
There are accounts of students from Majority Stoneman Douglas High School who saw their “friends faces blown off.” Another account of a freshman said that she was pinned to the ground under her classmate who bled to death on top of her.
Names such as Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and Karl Pierson aren’t said with such an easy heart around here. The country and communities ask, “when will it end?”
Poet, IN-Q addressed the situation in a slam poem. On a platform for NowThis, IN-Q called out the handful of Americans who refuse to see the problem in the shootings. The reality is, school shootings are terrorism. They should be treated with the same amount of severity and caution as a terrorist attack– because they’re exactly that.
In response, I ask, do we, as a country, as a democracy, not care enough about the lives of students, of the future generation to stop this? Where are the values for individual lives?
I ask, Cruz can do it, so what is stopping anyone else? We shouldn’t be afraid to go to movie theatres, churches, malls or schools.
I urge you to remember the names of the victims, not the shooter. They are the names we say with a heavy heart and the names we will forever associate with tragedy.
I cried before school today in remembrance for Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang.
I ask to use your first amendment right to speak out about your second. This is the time for change because I do not want to be caught up in just “another school shooting.”