Op-Eds from the Current Events Class

The students in the Current Events seminar were asked to write an op-ed piece about a current hot topic and submit them to local and national newspapers. The students are still waiting to hear if any of them will be published, but in the meantime, here are two op-eds written by a junior and a senior.

In Defense of Marriage Equality

 by Helen Thompson ’14

According to the defendants of Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage.com, marriage should only be between a man and a woman because heterosexual couples are who should “ideally” raise children. The website states that “Because only relationships between men and women can produce children, and children are most likely to thrive when raised by the father and mother who brought them into this world, opposite-sex relationships have the potential to further—or harm—this vital interest in a way that other types of relationships do not.” As a daughter of lesbian mothers, I personally oppose this idea. It insults my entire family, and makes assumptions about who would be my best parents. I believe that this statement is untrue, unrealistic and not only delegitimize same-sex parents, but other families as well.

The ProtectMarriage.com statement is wrong on three counts, the first being that it is untrue. It states that only a man and a woman can produce children. This is mostly truthful, but a more scientific explanation would say that one only needs sperm, an egg, and a uterus to produce a child. Especially with advances in science, as well as sperm and egg banks, it has become easier and easier to get pregnant without having sex. Both my brother and I were conceived via a donor’s sperm. So while parts of a woman and a man are necessary to conceive a child, that does not mean no one else can get pregnant without a little help.

Furthermore, it is unrealistic to argue that children will do better if raised by their biological mother and father. Not all children can or should be raised by their biological parents. Some children are born to parents who cannot take care of them for different reasons that may be out of their control; many parents are not ready for parenthood or stumbled into it accidentally. No child of same-sex parents, however, is unplanned or accidental. All of those children are wanted and planned for. In-vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, as well as sperm and egg donors make it possible for gay and lesbian families to reproduce, but it takes time, effort and money. It can take years for adoption agencies to connect children with suitable families, which means that anyone who wants to adopt is thinking hard about raising a child and its consequences. In fact, the reason there are adoption agencies is that many biological parents are unsuitable or unable to parent their children. It seems outrageous to me that one can oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that children are best raised by their biological parents when I can see in my everyday life how little of a difference it makes. I am just as socially adjusted, academically focused and emotionally stable as all my friends with a mom and a dad.

Lastly, the basis that children should be raised by only their biological father and mother delegitimizes many different families and lifestyles. Children all over our country are being raised by their grandparents, single mothers, single fathers, step-parent, legal guardians, adopted parents, aunts, uncles, the government, as well as two mothers or two fathers. ProtectMarriage.com’s argument delegitimizes all of these family structures which are common in our society. It even invalidates divorce, which up to 50% of marriages end in. Forty percent of the country’s children do not live with married biological parents. I think it is important to recognize that not all families are a mother and a father who are stably raising their children. And it is even more important to accept that and not impose values or ideals on other people’s lives.

The Supreme Court should legalize same-sex marriage. I only see the homophobia and malice of taking away rights of so many Californians and Americans who just want to legally acknowledge their love. Many same-sex couples want to legally recognize their union or family and cannot do so because some people question their parenting abilities. The main arguments that the defendants of Prop 8 put forward look to me to be grasping at straws for some legal reason that does not exist. Insulting same-sex parents as well as many other types of families and lifestyles isn’t legitimate grounds to prohibit same-sex marriage. The homophobia and fear of different lifestyles that is obvious in the arguments put forth by ProtectMarriage.com offend my family and many other Americans. I hope that in the future there are more acceptances of same-sex parents, gay marriage and non-traditional lifestyles.

Watch Out! Drones Are Coming!

 by Andrea Tam ’13

thCA116AIPWhile visiting Boston last week in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy, I thought about how useful drones could have been while searching for the bombing suspects. Drones could have found the suspects more efficiently while minimizing the amount of manpower and risk involved during the investigation. However, the effectiveness of drones does not outweigh the possible dangers of these “unmanned aerial vehicles.” The minimal regulation, change of parameters to suit our needs, and lack of transparency around drones must not be taken lightly. While drones have the potential to do good, we must address the issue immediately because drones have been used and will continue to be used irresponsibly unless we set defined boundaries before it is too late.

Though the use of drones does save money and the lives of United States soldiers, does it really reduce the number of civilian casualties? According to The New America Foundation, the non-militant fatality rate due to drones has dropped from 46% under President Bush to 14% under President Obama; however, the true number of innocent casualties may not be so drastically different. In 2012, Obama re-defined “militant” as “all military-aged men in a strike zone.” This vague definition, therefore, names about half of the human population as “militants,” so we do not know how many innocent lives have been lost due to drone strikes. Drones have not become more accurate; we have just made the intended “target” larger.

With minimal regulation of drones, we do not know who could be a target, when an individual could a target, or where an individual could be a target. According to the Washington Post, most US citizens agree that drone strikes used for targeted killings should not be used on US citizens or on US soil. However, the ambiguity of drone regulations does not limit drone use to that specific case. As the law (or lack of law) stands, drones could be used against US citizens. During his 13-hour filibuster about drones, Senator Rand Paul stressed that this use of drones strips an individual of his/her Fifth Amendment right to due process. Drone strikes enable a select few individuals to decide the fate of US citizens without criminal charges. Not only does this eliminate the right of an individual, but it also weakens the foundation of democracy that this country is founded upon.

US drone strikes are carried out by secret committees. According to the Associated Press, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) make these decisions that can affect US citizens without their knowledge. Further, select individuals within these two agencies decide when the next strike will be, yet the President of the United States ultimately decides. The secrecy in the decision-making process makes US citizens vulnerable to foreign attacks. Drone strikes carried out by the US government create anti-US sentiment abroad, which only puts US civilians at risk. With terrorist attacks occurring like the Boston Marathon tragedy, we wonder why the US is under assault. We must look to the government who is attacking other countries and “acting in our name” more than we think.

When making decisions, a person often weighs the costs and benefits. Though drones can be implemented quickly, decisions should take time, especially when human lives are at stake. The ease at which drones can be used, the low-cost, and small number of US casualties make drones an automatic winner. However, the low direct casualty rate does not take into account the deaths that amount from a terrorist attack due to that drone attack. Often, we make rash decisions in the heat of the moment—it’s human nature. The use of drones will make rash decisions commonplace. In order to save lives, of innocent US citizen and non-US citizen, we must think before we act.

This battle of drone technology between countries will only fuel more drone use and more warfare. The US has an opportunity to set a precedent for drone use so that other nations will follow. We can stop a war before it starts by creating stricter regulations regarding drones. What the US does next will show the world if we have learned from our predecessors of the Cold War. We have the chance to change the future of the planet, to live not in fear of one another, and we must seize the moment.