This week, Minnesota joined 12 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing marriage equality. We have an African American president serving his second term in the White House. Like many other Americans, I have perceived these recent events as evidence that our country as a whole is becoming more open-minded and less hateful towards minority groups.
So, I was unpleasantly surprised this week to stumble on the Geography of Hate map. Dr. Monica Stephens of Humboldt State University tracked online hate speech by geotagging hateful tweets across the US and mapped them on the county level from June 2012 through April 2013. The result is a colorful map that shows homophobic, racist, and anti-disability sentiments, primarily focused on the Mid-Western and Eastern parts of the country.
This map demonstrates that prejudice is commonplace. It is not just lurking in the stereotypical locations, like the deep South, but is prevalent all around us. To make it stop, it’s not enough to just eliminate hateful speech from our own vocabularies – we need to also take that extra step and speak out when our friends and relatives make prejudiced comments both out loud and online, and let them know that it is not okay.
By raising our voices, we can change the geography of hate in America.
Comment on this blog and let us know your thoughts and ideas for the elimination of hateful speech.
You have probably heard the remarks made by Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) CEO Mike Jeffries that he doesn’t make women’s clothes in sizes extra-large because he doesn’t want uncool kids and larger women wearing his clothes. To quote this grand wordsmith “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Additionally in an effort to keep the brand exclusive, A&F goes to the lengths of burning their damaged or unsold items. This not only keeps them off the backs of those who need clothing/our assistance/help the most, but it also disrespects the thousands of people who worked to make the clothes. This flagrant wastefulness further sucks the humanity out of a brand that is proving it does not have much soul left to lose.
In response Greg Karber has decided to rebrand Abercrombie and Fitch himself – as the brand for those in-need. Greg released the video above to start his campaign. The video features clips of Greg buying up A&F gear at thrift stores and handing them out to people who are homeless in Los Angeles. Now he is encouraging all those who have A&F clothing to donate it to their local homeless shelter.
While I don’t support making those who are less fortunate a pawn in a media debacle, I do think the sentiment behind Greg’s campaign is a worthy one. Not being a big fan of A&F from the start I don’t think I actually own anything made by them. However, I do have more than enough clothes that I wouldn’t miss. So in solidarity with this clever idea let’s all get to spring cleaning and donate our new or gently used clothing (whether it’s A&F or not) as well as toiletry items (such as sample or travel size shampoos, soaps, etc.) to those in need and turn the asinine words of one man into a call to action.
Source: Amnesty International
Amnesty International recently released their annual report on the countries with the most executions. With 43 total executions in 2012 the USA ranked 5th this year on Amnesty’s list for the worst offenders. Who else is on this cringe-worthy list? At the top is China followed by Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This is the company we keep.
This year Maryland made major strides when the death penalty was abolished. However, there are still 32 states that utilize the death penalty.
Source: Death Penalty Information Center
Why should we join the enlightened world and abolish the death penalty? Here are just a few of the many reasons:
- Death penalties do not deter criminals. The murder rate in non-death penalty states has remained consistently lower than the rate in states with the death penalty.
- Death penalty cases are often racially biased. A study by the Yale University’s School of Law in Connecticut found that seeking the death penalty often correlated with the race of the victim and the defendant, and not with the severity of the crime.
- Death penalty cases inadequately address the complexities of mental illness. The National Association of Mental Health has estimated that five to ten percent of those on death row have serious mental illness.
- Death penalty cases generally cost more. For example, in Tennessee, death penalty trials cost an average of 48% more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life imprisonment.
Most importantly having a death penalty means that we risk killing innocent people. The Innocence Project – one of Campaign Consultation’s Give 5 recipients – has exonerated 305 people through DNA testing, an astounding number.