History of LGBTQ Progression in Television



The friends of “Friends” often used sexuality for cheap laughs.

As one of the most common forms of mass media, television both creates and reflects American culture and society.  Beginning in the 1940s, American broadcasting revolutionized the distribution of information by bringing the audiovisual format to average homes.  By 1955, television sets were an important fixture in half of all American households.  In this new environment, the concept of the idyllic American family was commercialized and refined.  Families gathered around their television sets to watch black and white shows featuring perfect families with traditional family values.  The show Leave it to Beaver, created in 1957, was a prime example of the suburban family, featuring a stern but loving father, a doting housewife, an athletic older brother, and a naive but endearing young boy named Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver.  In the 50s, the prevalence of the heteronormative television family created a vast void in which sexual minorities remained unmentioned.  It wasn’t until 1975, when a short-lived sitcom called Hot I Baltimore featured the first gay couple on television.  Finally, in 1991, the first kiss between a gay couple on network television aired on L.A. Law.  Visibility of the LGBTQ community in television has steadily increased since this time, but portrayals have often been fraught with cheap gay jokes that invalidate and dehumanize gay characters.

One of the first popular shows to feature a gay wedding was Friends in a 1996 episode entitled, “The One With the Lesbian Wedding.”  The two female characters, Carol and Susan, remained supporting characters throughout the show’s ten year run.  Friends was one of the first shows to frequently acknowledge the existence of the LGBTQ community.  However, as some have pointed out, mentions of homosexuality were often derogatory.  These jokes are so prevalent that YouTube user Tijana Mamula, created a 50 minute compilation video of all the gay jokes in the ten seasons.  Gay panic was a frequent joke on the show.  Main characters like Ross, Joey, and Chandler would often follow moments of physical contact with one another in fits of revulsion, uttering equivalents of “no homo.”  Chandler, a straight character often mistaken as a gay man, was constantly teased for being too effeminate.  Perhaps most cringeworthy of all was the handling of Chandler’s transgender parent, a woman who is never referred to by anything other than the male name, “Charles.”  At Chandler and Monica’s wedding, her bitter ex-wife says to her, “Don’t you have a little too much penis to be wearing a dress like that?” a cruel line that largely minimizes the experiences of transgender people but gets a large laugh from the studio audience.  One might argue that these jokes were an attempt to point out the ridiculousness of male insecurities.  Yet there was often very little context to suggest that writers were aiming for anything other than raunchy one-liners.


Couple Willow and Tara of “Buffy.”

Perhaps the most significant stride made for LGBTQ visibility in the 90s happened during a 1997 episode on Ellen DeGeneres’s show Ellen, called “The Puppy Episode.”  Just two weeks after the actress had come out in TIME Magazine in an issue titled, “Yep, I’m Gay,” Ellen the character came out as a lesbian in the fourth season.  The episode had enormously high ratings and won multiple awards, spurring ABC to pick it up for the fifth season.  However, during this season, ABC had prefaced each episode with a parental advisory warning, a move DeGeneres strongly condemned, saying, “It was like this voice like you’re entering some kind of radiation center. It was very offensive, and you don’t think that’s going to affect ratings?”  Ellen was soon condemned by critics who said the show focused too heavily on gay issues and was cancelled after the fifth season.  While television creators like Ellen DeGeneres were eager to bring LGBTQ issues to the forefront of American culture, networks still believed American society was not ready.

In the 2000s, LGBTQ visibility steadily increased.  In 2001, Buffy the Vampire Slayer depicted Willow, a main character, meet and enter into a lesbian relationship with another woman, Tara.  Amber Benson, who played the role of Tara, said in an interview that the show “brought [gayness] into the mainstream and said it’s OK to be who you are. It doesn’t matter who you fall in love with.”  In 2004, Showtime debuted the show The L Word, a show almost entirely devoted to exploring the lesbian experience.  While LGBTQ characters have become a staple in many shows in the new millennium, they sometimes remain more tokenized than complexly explored.  In 2009, Modern Family aired on ABC, a show propagating the idea that modern families were no longer the idyllic vision seen in Leave it to Beaver.  Heavily featured on the show are a gay married couple, Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker.  The show certainly has championed gay marriage, but Mitchell and Cameron often fall into heteronormative characterization.  Cameron is effeminate and emotional while Mitchell is uptight and manish, often embarrassed by Cameron’s flamboyant nature.  These characters often fail to move past gay stereotypes into fully realized human beings.

As society has progressed its ideas on sexuality, television has tried to adapt.  Sometimes showmakers are at the helm of these changes, pushing to create television characters that reflect the diverse American population and sometimes they are lagging behind, trying desperately to sell their product to an increasingly progressive audience.  In this mix of both inventiveness and corporate pandering, we see shows that often just miss their mark.  Still, there is hope that there will be more shows that accurately capture the LGBTQ experience.  Transparent, a new show on Amazon Prime about a trans woman coming out to her family, has been hailed by some critics as a bold push to bring visibility to the trans community.  Shows like Transparent may have a lasting impact on the way the viewing public understands transgender issues.  It is important that these trends continue and directors take note of the humanizing way in which LGBTQ characters are portrayed.

Civility: An Innocuous Word? On Steven Salaita’s Lecture, Uncivil Rights: Academic Freedom and the Silencing of Speech


As a Syrian-American and former resident of the country, I have seen silence ironically written on the mouths of its citizens. Fearing retribution, Syrians and people of like political, social, and legal environments conformed to this suppression of speech. Until the Arab Spring, they remained silent in the face of brutal regimes, tacit rights infringements, and unceasing oppression. When I stayed in Syria each summer, I boasted about my free speech in the United States. As I listened to my friends whisper hushed words of anti-government slang, I reveled in the comfort of knowing I did not have to mumble my deviant thoughts at home. I could say whatever I wanted. I was convinced my freedom of speech was untouchable- never stifled.

Upon reading Steve G. Salaita’s story, I realized my understanding of free speech was perhaps unwarranted. A previously tenured professor of American Indian studies, Mr. Salaita was just a few weeks away from giving his first class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before his appointment was blocked. This rejection followed Mr. Salaita’s Twitter commentary of Israel’s attack on Gaza this past summer. After tweeting ardent pro-Palestine and anti-Israeli occupation tweets, such as  “Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending ‪#Israel right now you’re an awful human being.” and “This is not a conflict between ‪#Israel and Hamas. It’s a struggle by an Indigenous people against a colonial power. #Gaza ‪#FreePalestine,” students, faculty members, and donors agreed his polemical comments were anti-Semitic. Josh Cooper, a college senior and former intern at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who collected 1,300 signatures for a petition against Mr. Salaita, said “there must be a relationship between free speech and civility. The lack of civility itself is a mechanism for silencing alternative views.”


Students gather to listen to Steven Salaita

Today, Mr. Salaita is not teaching as a professor in a lecture hall, nor does he work alongside unflinching faculty and administration at a university. Instead, Mr. Salaita continues to speak and write about his experience with speech in the academic realm. On Thursday February 5th, Mr. Salaita welcomed UNC and community students, faculty, and interested listeners in Hyde Hall for a talk about academic freedom and the silencing of speech. With a full house forcing students to huddle on the ground for extra space, Mr. Salaita fervently addressed a number of vexed topics, ranging from the tactics of anti-Semitism, proving Arab humanity, and defining civility. It was his latter point, however, that perfectly encapsulates the blurred line between free speech and civility.

“They thought civility was a perfectly innocuous word, and that people would find it convincing.  You know, it’s one of those words, really, that kind of connotes innocuously. I mean, who’s against civility? Who thinks its cool to go around being uncivil? Civility is one of those virtues that everybody should adhere to and live by in some way. I submit that the fact that they are completely unaware of the profoundly violent connotations of that term and the broader construct makes its usage even worse and in many ways scarier” he said.

From this, I derived that critics of Mr. Salaita are too quick to equate civility with complete politeness, the silencing of dissent, and subjection. Adhering to this type of civility, the University of Illinois found an excuse to restrict academic freedom.

As I listened to Mr. Salaita, I found myself disconcerted with my pervious grasp of civility and speech. Is our speech considered civil if it challenges orthodoxies? Is our speech considered civil if it rejects prevailing conventions? Is our speech considered civil if it spurns normative thought?

Mr. Salaita would answer “no.”

It is through this civility we become a robotic, unthinking populace that goes to the polls, selects the right candidate, and drives to the mall thereafter to spend our money.  It is through this civility that the recrimination against nonconformists is the new status quo. It is through this civility that Mr. Salaita was fired, censored, and threatened to remain silent.

Unfortunately, the anomalous definition of civility goes beyond Mr. Salaita’s incident. It breaches on the rights of those who are not only victims of the Israeli occupation, but who demonstrate even the slightest suggestion of non-normative thought. This civility is an indication that our academic freedom is not actually free. As commodities in the corporatization of the academe, the exploitation of contingent and adjunct labor, and the overreaching of administration into the educational institution, we must compromise our “uncivil” speech for “academic freedom.”

After his lecture, which over 100 people and a discontented Director of Hillel received, I asked Mr. Salaita how students should address, combat, and reform this flawed academic freedom.

“Tie yourselves into strong communities, find political and emotional friendship.  Have a support group when shit goes down. Be active, write, invite, speak, and listen,” he said.

What happened to Steven Salaita is still happening. It could happen to me, and it could even happen to you.

But should that silence us?

Supporters of Steven Salaita can sign a petition in advocacy of his free speech. He tweets at @stevesalaita. 

Why “Hurston Hall” is a Necessary Step for Carolina



On Jan. 30, 2015, over 100 Carolina students, staff, and community members gathered in McCorckle Place as part of the ongoing Kickout the KKK movement.  We mobilized in order to support the sustained efforts of Carolina students for over a decade: to recognize the establishment and perpetuation of racism in our university, and, most importantly, to take direct action towards eradicating it.

This fight has been going on for years. Noting her experience at Carolina,  ’01 alumna Jamie Sohn spoke at the Jan. 30 rally, describing her part in a protest at Saunders Hall, which demanded the hall’s renaming. Indeed, Carolina Review articles for almost a decade reflect the growing discontent and questions about the purpose of Silent Sam and other memorials on campus that reflect North Carolina’s racist history. And yet, no changes have been made.

In choosing to attend this rally, I felt excited; how special, it seemed, to be part of a protest on campus! Upon arrival, however, I realized how misguided (and privileged) my feelings of excitement were. The students who spoke shared truly intimate and personal feelings of their disappointment, exclusion, and dread when they were forced to walk by a Silent Sam that lacked contextualization or to walk into a building that honored a man who sought to perpetuate white supremacy and violently oppress those who did not have his color of skin.


Huddled together in defense of the biting cold, ralliers listened to parts of Julian Carr’s dedication to Silent Sam presented in 1913. In post-secondary institutions like Carolina, the conversation about race seems to have shifted. Now, we boast diversity, a far cry from the words of the dedication in which Carr brags about a time in which he “horse-whipped a Negro woman until her skirt hung in shreds.”  Although progress has certainly been made against this standard, diversity in its university definition remains shallow. It focuses on color of skin or country of origin to be used as admissions statistics and ignores true history – a history of oppression that seeps through every crack in the formation of our country and our university – and defines us more than we (and the UNC Administration) are ready or willing to admit. We will not be truly diverse as a university until each Tar Heel feels safe and respected on this campus. It is not enough to post pictures of minority students outside the Student Union or to have organizations like the Black Student Movement.

This call for greater inclusion at the University is not a new concept, but perhaps the dialogue can change. Instead of considering this an issue for those marginalized, we should consider this an issue that negatively impacts each of us at Carolina. Since this most recent revival of the rallies, UNC has released part of its building naming policy. The naming may be revoked, according to the policy, “if the benefactor’s or honoree’s reputation changes substantially so that the continued use of the name may compromise the public trust, dishonor university standards, or otherwise be contrary to the best interests of the University.” The policy cautions later generations of Carolina students that a change should not be made solely because “later observers would make different judgments.”


In this case, later observers would make different judgments, but this is not the reason for the change. Instead, the reason for change lies in understanding that the exclusion of any Carolina student is unacceptable and dishonors the standards of this university as well as the education of each student. Additionally, any memorial that makes Carolina students feel unsafe, disrespected, or excluded is against the best interests of the university. For over 200 years, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has prided itself as a “University of the people,” and it is  time the University takes action for all of its people. As students of Carolina, we have the responsibility to support efforts that advocate for our fellow Tar Heels. Although the administration might not see the urgency for action, the unity of the student body will make it clear that things need to change.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Hey, it’s the end of the week! Read up on your news–it may help you. For instance, I could’ve won $25 dollars  in triva this week if I had paid attention to the news and realized the new king of Saudi Arabia is the old king’s HALF-brother, not full bro. (Who would’ve thought he had a half-brother?)

Students protested today in an attempt to rename Saunders Hall, whose namesake’s accomplishments included being a Ku Klux Klan Dragon. Marching from McCorkle Place to the Silent Sam statue, they sang slogans like “Whose building is it? Ours!” The protest was organized by the Real Silent Sam Coalition. We support them in their goal of renaming Saunders after writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston and spreading discussion of UNC’s racist past.

Jordan traded a terrorist in their hands to free a Jordanian ISIS prisoner this week, and may be doing so again. Soyez sage, Jordan!

GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND SING PRAISES because Mitt Romney is not running for president next year. Still waiting to hear the same about Mike Huckabee.

It snowed a fuck ton up north. And it might snow again.

The UNC Board of Governors say President Ross’s departure has “nothing to do” with his performance. Still, it seems a little sketchy. Some students want to dig deeper into the issue.

Some grown men in jerseys will toss a ball around this weekend. More importantly, I will be using the occasion to get free food.

Happy Friday! Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!

Weekly Wrap-Up


Happy Friday everyone! Classes may have only just returned, but the world has been busy as usual. After Sunday’s wild NFC championship game between Green Bay and Seattle, the sports world was treated to more wild news, as it seems the New England Patriots could have deflated footballs for their game against the Indianapolis Colts. If the Patriots are found guilty, the consequences may be severe. Cheating is not a new thing for the Patriots; the last time they got caught, and head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the maximum amount the NFL could sanction. On Thursday, Tom Brady, New England’s star quarterback said in a press conference “I didn’t alter the ball in any way.” Unless Brady somehow was the Incredible Hulk, he would not really have the chance to deflate footballs, so why is he even a suspect?  I trust Scooby Doo and the gang to get to the bottom of this.

On Wednesday, the United States Senate voted to acknowledge that climate change is real. Here’s the thing; climate change is not something that only exists because the Senate all of a sudden acknowledges it. The fact that climate change was something that even had to be debated in the United States Senate is laughable. The vote count was 98-1, so congratulations are in order for Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi for being the lone dissenting vote; I’ll be sure to give you a high-five once you decide to join the rest of civilization. The Senate did return to its traditional form, however, by voting down an Amendment that designated “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” Even Lindsey Graham acknowledges this fact. Lindsey Graham. As they say on ESPN, “C’mon man!”

Early Friday morning, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah died after being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. The Saudi King lived to the ripe age of 90, and was viewed by many people as a reformer. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said “He was really quite and extraordinary figure. He was probably the most progressive and liberal minded king of Saudi Arabia since King Fasal, which is a long time ago, in the early 1970s.”

Also on Wednesday, President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address. Campus Blueprint’s Duncan Yetman provided a response to President Obama’s address, which I encourage to take the time to read if you have not already. Part of me is afraid that the speech will only be remembered for the insane mic drop moment, but most of me thinks that is absolutely fine. President Obama inherited a whole host of problems when he took office, and now that he is forced to contend with a Republican-controlled Congress, he has my personal blessing to continue being the coolest president in history. We hope you have a great weekend, and we will see you back next week!

I leave you with the best reaction gif to President Obama’s mic drop I have yet to see.

Drawing Lines: Obama’s State of the Union Address

Obama’s demeanor in Tuesday’s State of the Union (SOTU) address was in marked contrast with many of his recent speeches. As he addressed the new Republican majority he seemed to possess a new sense of confidence, if not urgency of the situation.

Most of this was timing. Obama is halfway through his second term, a period when most presidents worry less about short term political consequences and focus rather on establishing a clear narrative for their time in office. Obama’s impressive approval rating (50 percent as of this week) belies some of the difficulties he’s faced over the past two years. After the emergence of ISIS, a Republican romp of the 2014 midterms, and renewed racial tensions, Obama needed to reestablish a guiding narrative at which to look at his Presidency. Taking advantage of the growing economy, shrinking unemployment, and increased energy independence, Obama opened his address with a clear and concise case that “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

Using the successes of the past six years as leverage, Obama then issued what can only be described as a thoroughly progressive agenda in front of a deeply conservative Congress. I won’t pick apart every idea he gave in his SOTU address (his speech was over 58 minutes long), but here are the five main areas:

• A praise of “middle class-economics”, and an argument to support policies integral to this focus (Obamacare, paid maternity leave, higher minimum wage, free community college among others)

• Support of what he defines as “21st century businesses”, and an argument for the infrastructure, internet freedom/security, and trade deals these business need

• Defense of his dovish approach to foreign policy, using Cuba, Russia, and the Middle East as examples of balanced power and shared responsibilities

• A direct challenge to Republicans on climate change, specifically addressing the common “I’m not a scientist” claim

• A move back to the “values” of bipartisanship and shared interests among Democrats and Republicans

Of these five areas, the last one stood out as the most important. As Obama talked about “value” politics he seemed to return to the central themes he laid out in the 2008 campaign, framing his presidency as a fulfillment of these promises. The aggressive, value-heavy message Obama delivered to Congress on Tuesday was, in this sense, a reaffirmation of his original pledge to work “beyond politics” — a message sharpened by his struggle with Republicans over the past six years. Undaunted by Republican advances in the 2014 midterms, Obama seemed to develop a kind of “take or leave it” approach when it came to comprise, resulting in a far more progressive stance than some Republicans had expected.

For all the policy suggestions and powerful rhetoric, the general mood of Obama’s speech can best be summed up in an unscripted moment during the address. Near the end of his speech, Obama referenced a shared vision for America that both Democrats and Republicans could believe in, reminding Congress he could no longer run for office… “I know, [be]cause I won both of them”.

The average public school student is now in poverty, but will anything change?



The Washington Post recently reported that low-income students are now biggest group of students in public schools at 51% of all students.


“For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation,” reporter Lyndsey Layton writes.


North Carolina has the second-lowest amount of students in poverty in the Southeast at 53%. (Virginia, by far the lowest, has 39%.) This fits in with recent trends of growing income stratification in the US and the thought that, while wealthier groups people are bouncing back from the recession, the poorest people have been left behind.


The reasons for this seem to be stagnated economic growth for lower-class Americans and the lack of resources they receive. For many schools, poor test scores means they don’t get as much government assistance as those with high scores. A host of societal problems–from absent parents to not enough food–already keep their students at a disadvantage.


Poor schools are prone to overcrowding.


“Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children so that they approach the same level as their more affluent peers,” Layton explains.


In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama addressed the economic plight of most Americans and tried to build support for measures to raise taxes on the wealthy.  ”Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” he asked.


Unfortunately, the GOP that now controls Congress is not inclined to agree. It seems that the idea that some Americans are stuck in a poverty they can’t work their way out from while CEOs make several hundred times the average annual wage is one that will, at least for the time being, keep being unquestioned.

Hog Farming in North Carolina: A Foul Tradition


Since 1990, the hog industry in North Carolina has seen major shifts in structure and scale, experiencing unprecedented growth. Today, the hog industry includes more than 10 million hogs, most of which are concentrated in the eastern part of North Carolina where industrial hog farming plays an important role in the area’s economy. However, industrial hog farming generates a range of environmental problems such as air and water pollution, posing hazards to the health of the nearby communities. This trade-off between economic benefits and environmental consequences is crucial in determining the future of the hog industry in North Carolina.

Changes in policy generated accelerated growth and consolidation of the North Carolina’s hog industry. In the 1980s, the hog industry was developing and consisted mainly of small family-owned hog farms. North Carolina ranked only 7th nationally in hog production. Shortly afterwards, several policies were introduced which paved the way for the proliferation of large-scale industrial hog farms. In the 1990s, hog farms were placed under lenient environmental regulation, benefited from tax breaks and became exempt from traditional zoning regulations. These policies attracted corporate giants such as Smithfield Foods and irrevocably changed the course of North Carolina’s hog industry.

Over the next 20 years, the number of hogs produced quadrupled, increasing by millions and eventually exceeding the human population. The hog industry grew 89% between 1992 and 2002, and North Carolina emerged as the second largest hog-producing state in the country, a status it maintains today.  Nonetheless, less noticeable shifts in the structure of the hog farm industry were occurring behind the industry’s rapid expansion. While the number of hogs produced expanded, the growth was paralleled by an equally rapid shrinking in the number of farms, from approximately 15,000 to just 2,800.  Small family-owned farms were replaced by large corporation-owned factories. The standard image of the hog farm soon became one of thousands of pigs crowded in confined spaces.CAFO_hogs

However, this rapid expansion in the hog-farm industry was accompanied by a proliferation of environmental problems, leading to stricter policy regulation. In 1995, 20 million gallons of waste spilled into North Carolina’s New River, and four years later, Hurricane Floyd released hog waste and hog carcasses into North Carolina rivers. The resulting environmental degradation and negative publicity caused legislators to reevaluate the monolithic hog industry. New regulations required hog farms to be set certain distances away from residences and community buildings. Even more, the Clean Water Responsibility Act placed the restriction on the construction of new farms in North Carolina. Despite these regulations, environmental problems continue to plague the hog farming industry to this day.

Hog waste management is a main problem with industrial hog farming, generating a range of environmental problems. The hog industry generates 40 million gallons of manure each day, much of which is stored in open lagoons. Liquid manure is often sprayed directly onto agricultural fields, causing excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous to run off into nearby waterways. These excess nutrients can lead to algae growth, degrading the ecosystem and killing fish populations. The manure can also seep into groundwater, leading to contamination of drinking supplies.

The environmental problems generated by the hog industry can have health consequences for nearby residents. In addition to generating negative externalities such as unpleasant odors, hog farms also negatively impact the air quality by increasing ammonia emissions, which can lead to respiratory problems. Other health problems such as thyroid disruption and anxiety have been reported but not conclusively tied to hog farms. Additionally, hogs are fed large amounts of antibiotics and artificial hormones to promote growth, causing a rise in antibiotic-resistant pathogens. According to the New York Times, hog industry workers are found to inadvertently carry these pathogens, which could lead to their spread.

The hog industry has also led to social inequity problems as the negative consequences of hog farms disproportionately impact disadvantaged people such as minority or low-income groups. Environmental groups have recently petitioned the EPA to review the hog farm permits issued by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR). The groups argue that the permits violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the hog farms are under-regulated and most directly affect minority groups. The petition argues that the DENR needs to respond by “overhauling the general permit to protect African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans from the adverse disproportionate impacts of industrial swine facilities.” The EPA’s response has yet to be announced.

Factory farmed hog production has led to a rise in the economic importance of the hog industry in North Carolina. Today, it is worth over $1 billion dollars, contributing significantly to the local economy. Furthermore, the hog industry employs nearly 12,000 people and accounts for more than $200 million in wages. However, the increased consolidation of the hog farm industry means that profits are increasingly concentrated in the hands of the top players while individual farmers get an increasingly small share. After several merges, Smithfield now controls 90% of the hog market in North Carolina, where the economic significance of the hog industry means it has political power.

Despite the environmental and health problems, attempts to increase regulation of the hog farms in recent years have been sparse, in part because of the economic and political power of the industry. Most of the debate is focused on the use of lagoons to store hog waste, pertaining to the environmental reasons listed above. Although the Clean Hog Farms Act of 2005 originally planned to ban manure lagoons, it was modified to become less restrictive; even so, it failed to pass North Carolina’s General Assembly. While hog farms have lawsuits and fines for violating the Clean Water Act, lagoons are still a common practice, and legislation has not changed significantly. Historically, it has taken an environmental crisis such as the release of hog waste after Hurricane Floyd in 1999 to prompt a legislative reevaluation of the hog industry. However, recent action such as petition of the EPA for civil rights violations could catalyze similar debate and changes. In order to address the problems of the hog industry, legislators are going to have to weigh the economic benefits against the environmental and health consequences. Their conclusions will shape the future of the hog industry in North Carolina.


The Importance of Learning about Islam


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Campus BluePrint as a whole.

I am not an apologist, and I believe that the people who attacked Charlie Hebdo’s office have committed the most egregious action in human capacity. That being said, the comments I viewed on news websites like CNN bothered me almost as much as the horrible actions of the attackers.

“Muslims, why they can’t [sic] enjoy life like everybody else??”

“Muslims continue to kill and commit terrorism on a daily basis and yet the West allows these animals into their countries.”


I went to public school in the United States of America for 15 years before I learned a single thing about Islamic culture or religion. I studied mathematics for all that time, and as I recall American schools use Arabic numerals. I was not aware that animals were capable of complex mathematics. So perhaps middle easterners and Muslims are not animals.

I, like most American students learned a little bit of philosophy in high school. Unlike most people, I chose to pursue it in college, and I have loved every second of it. Until I studied Islamic culture, I did not know that the work of ancient Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato survived only because Arabic scholars translated the original Greek works into Arabic. Latin scholars then translated the Arabic works into Latin. I was not aware that animals were capable of studying and preserving manuscripts of Philosophy.

“They marry their sisters [sic] cousins.”

There are roughly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and they live on at least 6 continents; Antarctica is a toss-up. The American education system, however, makes barely any reference to roughly 20% of the world’s population, and that baffles me. Americans living in a post-9/11 world are brought up in a culture that imagines the Middle East as a blank space on the globe (except Israel, of course). Should a teacher attempt to teach about the Middle East or God forbid the Qur’an, the phones will be ringing off the hook calling for the teacher’s resignation. However, I read parts of the Bible in high school, and no one seemed to have a problem with that.

Well I do. For being a supposed global superpower, Americans are ignorant, and they are damn proud of it. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center gave Americans reasons to hate anything related to Islam unconditionally, thus keeping generations of students in the dark about a major global culture. We have declared war on an entire culture because of the actions of a minute few.

“What a cruel thing war is… to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.” – Robert E. Lee

I do not wish to condone the actions of the attackers on Charlie Hebdo; I know they will eventually face justice. I do not condone, however, a cultural trend of ignoring 1.5 billion people because of blanket stereotypes and racism. Muslims like to go out on weekends, watch soccer, and even (gasp!) go to comedy shows… In English. One of my favorite comedians, Ahmed Ahmed, is an Egyptian-American, and during one of his shows he was talking about how he got offered the role of “Terrorist Number Four” in a movie. His response was: “Thanks but no thanks. Every time I take a part like this it’s like feeding the beast, it’s like putting fuel on the flame. No way.” Now is not a time for retribution. Now is the time for learning. Now is the time for progress.

Je Suis Charlie


I believe in the right to free speech and expression. I admire those that cast forth their views with regards to social justice issues. I even occasionally laugh at politically insensitive comics that are meant to push the buttons of the masses.

I am “Charlie.”

And due to this, some believe that my right to life should be ripped away from me. On January 7th, only two days after I had come home from visiting family in Paris for the holidays, three gunmen entered the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper headquarters, and proceeded to kill 12 individuals. The terrorist attack was as a response to a caricature about the Islamic prophet Muhammad, an individual who is never supposed to be depicted in any way.hebdo

Above are two examples of Charlie Hebdo’s political cartoons that created most of the outrage. On the left, the depiction of Muhammad states, “100 whips if you don’t die from laughter!” And the right side makes an illustration with the tagline “Love is stronger than hate,” which is naturally supposed to anger homophobes.

Charlie Hebdo has been doing things like this for years, and in 2011, they were firebombed for many of the same reasons. Today, however, the response from the public has been much stronger as the world has unified to condemn terrorism.

One of the most interesting facts of the case is that the first man killed was actually a Muslim policeman, which adds irony to the whole situation. Not only does it prove the bigotry of the terrorists, but it also serves to show that this isn’t an act that should be blamed on Islam by any means. Too often, the media jumps forward to condemn the whole Islamic community due to the actions of extremists. Like the 9/11 massacre, events like these are followed by fear and overgeneralization about Muslims. In France, it is no different, and many individuals have mobilized throughout Europe to advocate for anti-immigration stances.

What one must first understand is that the Muslim community there is extremely different when compared to the American Muslim community. In France, Muslims are often at a disadvantaged socio-economic status, and fill many blue-collar jobs. This often leads to heavy discrimination, so when events such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre occur, they use it as an opportunity to condemn the entire culture in an attempt to reduce immigration. It must be understood, however, that this isn’t an act of Islam; it is an act of sadistic terrorism that has been labeled as France’s worst massacre in 50 years.

What needs to be made clear to terrorists around the world is that the globe is mobilizing to combat the intolerance that terrorists such as these created. I would want to know how different the American response would have been if this attack had happened on United States soil. Although Americans have become slightly more tolerant over the years, it is hard to think that a mass increase in negative prejudice against Muslims wouldn’t be a part of the aftermath.

Ultimately, this tragedy is one that has been dealt with through extreme sadness mixed with solidarity as millions rose around the world to support the victims, their families, and the French community. It must be said that by attempting to make France fall, all these terrorists did was make the entirety of Europe stand stronger.