School Life
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The Blaine Essay

"The Blaine is an essay of personal conviction - it's perhaps one of the most agonizing assignments our students complete, but also perhaps the most rewarding."
-  History Department Chair Mark Clizbe
The Blaine essay prize is awarded each year to a graduating senior who offers the best essay concerning an issue of contemporary or historical significance. It is presented in memory of Harrison Tweed Blaine '38, a United States Marine who died during World War II. Established by Mr. Blaine's parents, it was originally awarded through the mid-1960's and was reinstated in 1982.

List of 7 items.

  • Power of Individuals: Utilizing Strategies of Dissent to Unveil the Blue Sky from a Grey Curtain in China - Patrick Quian '16

    As air pollution became more pervasive and severe over the past decade, both the Chinese government and ordinary Chinese citizens started to shift their focus and effort to alleviating and resolving this problem. However, as the citizens and the international community waited and observed, the air still remained grey and smoggy when the Chinese government promoted new policies to cap coal consumptions and improve energy efficiency. Even though it is unreasonable to expect this huge problem to be resolved immediately, ordinary citizens in China can significantly facilitate this process if they know that anyone is able to promote significant change as an individual. The paradigm in China has always been that the government officials and leaders know what is the right thing to do, and people just follow the orders of their leaders. In the case of air pollution, however, more results seem to be produced when citizens take matters into their own hands. They are justified to dissent against this paradigm because the severity of the air pollution significantly affects every Chinese citizen living in a polluted area. Despite the fact that China has been meeting previous goals on limiting pollution, simply setting more general goals for the future does not put pressure on local officials to actively look for and punish factories or power plants that are violating the regulations, which means that the air pollution problem is not being solved as quickly as possible. Individual citizens can use different forms of media to produce and publicize works about air pollution to combat the government's lack of transparency and responsibility by attracting media coverage and promoting public discussion, thus putting affiliated government officials' personal interests at risk and forcing them to take a more active role in reducing air pollution. The effective actions of individual citizens would have the same effect as a policy that would associate coal consumption and pollution reduction with the evaluation of the local official's performance. This policy would bind the task of reducing air pollution more closely with officials' personal interests, which means that they would be more likely to investigate and shut down possible sources of pollution. Even though it might be very hard for an individual without any resources or political connections in China to push for such a big policy change, it is entirely possible for someone to apply the same form of pressure on local officials so that they would enforce the policies.

    In order to solve this issue in a more efficient and rational fashion, citizens first need to understand what exactly they are fighting against and the fundamental cause of the air pollution. The primary sources of air pollution in China are particles including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets found in air and suspended for a long period of time. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and pose the greatest health risks because of their ability to enter deep into the lungs. The Ministry of Environmental Protection uses the concentration of PM 2.5 particles in air to create the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is basically the scale of severity for air pollution since PM 2.5 are the most pervasive and harmful pollutants in the air. According to a report published by Harvard University in 2015, the majority of PM 2.5 particles and carbon emission are mainly products of fossil fuel combustion like coal-burning and cement production.

    Even though there are many other contributors to PM 2.5 particles like the combustion activities in motor vehicles and other industrial processes, the coal-burning factories and power plants are the root sources of air pollution in China. In the 2028 days between April 2008 and March 2014, the air quality index in Beijing has been above 100 for 1632 days according to U.S. standards. This indicates that the air quality in the capital of China was so poor that it was unhealthy for Beijing citizens to inhale the air most of the time throughout the six years. Compared to the southern regions of China, the northeastern regions not only rely more heavily on coal burning as the main source of heating, but also have a policy that provides free indoor heating for all households during winter. Even though the citizens don't have to pay money for the heat, they are paying for it with their health as the air pollution peaks during winter time.

    One of the major problems that arise when China deals with air pollution is the lack of transparency and information for the public. Although China has increased its capacity to monitor small particulate matters in the air from only 47 cities in 2002 to 367 cities in 2015, the monitoring data wasn't available to the public until 2008. Even when the data is available, it has the potential to be misleading because the levels of concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the air China uses to categorize the level of severity of air pollution is two and a half times higher than the WHO guideline. Although the Air Quality Index might indicate that the air quality is good, it could actually be unhealthy for sensitive people according to WHO standards. Besides, there have been numerable times when the AQI reported by Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau is lower than the report from the U.S. embassy around the same area at the same time. This inconsistency does not necessarily imply that the Chinese government is intentionally tuning down the severity of the air pollution, but Chinese citizens should not rely solely on the government, as it can sometimes be unreliable and lack credibility. To promote more actions from the government, it is not only important for people to become aware of this issue, but also be able to use this lack of transparency and information as a tool when they are dissenting against the government.

    A famous reporter called Jing Chai took matters into her own hands. She utilized this tool and conducted her own research on air pollution and released her findings on the internet. As a result, they became the most-discussed topic in China for weeks and sparked immediate reactions from the government. Ms. Chai traveled to the most polluted towns in China to conduct interviews with the residents, sought expertise from well-known environmental scientists, and obtained a lot of data regarding air pollution from a variety of sources. She combined everything that she learned into a 104-minute long presentation and uploaded the video to the internet, and named it "Under the Dome".

    The documentary immediately received millions of views and became the most discussed topic on all Chinese social media. Speaking from the perspective of a mother of a new-born child, Ms. Chai's documentary had a special appeal to the Chinese public who has been listening to pedantic and sometimes unreliable government officials reporting air pollution status in the news. The main purpose of this documentary was not to raise awareness among the Chinese citizens, but to provoke both the government and the citizens to react to the content of the video. Everyone already knew that air pollution was becoming worse, but the citizens only complained and waited for the government to come up with more effective regulations to improve the air quality while the government only set long-term goals and barely enforced the rules. This documentary enabled the public to start thinking critically about the air pollution issue, and helped them to realize that ordinary people could take matters into their own hands and force the government to take actions as well. Although Ms. Chai intentionally removed some anti-government commentary from the documentary, the Chinese propaganda department took it off all websites in China, and censored certain key words like "Under the Dome" and "Chai Jing" about a week after the release of the documentary. The official explanation of this censorship was that the propaganda department feared that this documentary might threaten social stability in China since many people might react irrationally and violently against the government. "Under the Dome" had about 200 million views when it was censored, sparking reactions from countless Chinese citizens and government officials, including President Xi Jing Pin, who vowed to "punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy ecology or environment, with no exceptions" the same day "Under the Dome" was censored. Ms. Chai used her resources as a reporter and her professional skills to unveil part of the grey curtain that enshrouded the actual air pollution situation in China, and showed many forms of dissent that an individual could adopt to create some form of pressure on the government officials.
     
    It might appear to be hard to improve the situation when dealing with this huge national air pollution issue, but an ordinary individual in Beijing found his own way of dissenting against the norm in China. Zou Yi was a 55-year-old man who decided to use his cell phone to take a picture of the same skyline from his window every day for three years. By compiling all of the pictures into a huge collage and uploading it to the internet, Zou Yi was able to show how many days of these three years had a blue sky and all the buildings were visible, and how many days when everything was covered by a thick smog. Since a clear, blue sky has always been an accurate representation of good air quality, Zou Yi's pictures were considered a more accurate representation of Beijing's air quality than the AQI released by the environmental bureau, which entertained a much lower standard than WHO guidelines. Ironically, while Beijing categorized almost 45% of the days in 2010 as "blue sky days", only 15% were actually within international standard, which means that a "blue sky day" announced by the monitoring sites in Beijing can actually be grey and smoggy. Zou Yi showed the public that someone as ordinary as him can reveal something the Chinese government was withholding from the general public. His collage received both national and international attention and was able to put pressure on government officials as an ordinary individual with a very simple act of dissent.

    Another obstacle on the path to improve air quality is the fact that Chinese government has always prioritized economic and GDP growth over environmental stewardship and sustainability, which means that when it comes to air pollution, the Chinese government needs more incentives to actually push for changes in policies and enforce them, even if that would result in a lower GDP growth. There is not a lack of regulation policies on factories and power plants from the Chinese government, but the lack of enforcement due to close ties between many state-owned power plants and government officials, and the lack of cooperation between the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) due to their conflict of interest hinders the entire effort to alleviate air pollution in China. The lack of enforcement from the central government is one of the major problems, because government officials who are closely affiliated with state-owned power plants who benefit from their activities would not risk their personal interest and punish these plants for not following the regulations. When it comes to the central government itself, the NDRC holds more power in the government and wishes to continue or even accelerate the economic growth in China, which has been very reliant on coal-burning.

    On the other hand, the MEP has been looking for solutions for air pollution such as phasing out inefficient coal-burning power plants and replacing them with non-fossil fuel powered plants. Although it is very difficult for Chinese citizens to directly influence these governmental organizations, they are still able to take smaller steps to facilitate the process with acts of dissent to create incentives for local government officials to actively regulate air quality.

    Although individuals have the power to produce significant results in alleviating air pollution, the power a group of people has when they unite under the same goal should not be dismissed. In rare cases when people were able to organize themselves and performed acts of dissent that might otherwise not be possible for an individual, they were able to promote a much greater change in a much shorter time span. For example, in May 2008, residents of a community called "Warm Home" in the suburbs of Hangzhou formed a self-help group called "Protest Against Air Pollution" to locate the severe air pollution and water pollution that have been troubling the residents of the community for years. The community was located close to multiple chemical plants and factories that used coal as their primary source of energy and very likely released the waste in violation of the regulations. The residents were constantly filing complaints to the local Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) about the air pollution, but the officials always replied that they could not do anything if the source of pollution was not located. Therefore the residents themselves used an online forum to communicate with each other and organize investigations and protests. Although none of them had professional equipment or knowledge about air pollution, they were able to find out that some factories released more pollutants at night and took pictures and recorded videos as evidence. The residents submitted this evidence to the local environmental bureau, and requested their assistance. After more investigations by the EPB, two factories were found to operate with no permit for emitting pollutants, and the Warm Home residents pleaded the local EPB to shut down these two factories. While the officials of the EPB were able to shut down the factory owned by a private firm within a month, they met many obstacles when they were trying to close up the factory of a state-owned business, Hangzhou Blue Peafowl Chemical Fiber Co., Ltd. because of its close-ties with certain government officials. The EPB was only able to order the factory to relocate, but no time limit was given. The residents of Warm Home were not satisfied with result, so they expanded their activities from locating the source of pollution to collecting signatures for petitions that were sent to important local government officials and many media agencies. By doing so, they were able to attract national attention to the issue they were facing and put a lot of pressure on the officials that were affiliated with the chemical factory. The residents were also able to alert powerful figures like the mayor of Hangzhou and persuaded him to take a more immediate action against the factory. As a result, the Hangzhou Blue Peafowl Chemical Fiber factory had to reduce its production level starting in September 2008 and eventually shut down in March 2009.

    The Warm Home community case has been one of the most successful cases of dissent against air pollution in China. When ordinary residents of a community united and organized themselves to deal with air pollution with effective strategies and relentless spirits, they were able to put pressure on and persuade officials to enforce their own regulations and punish the violators, including the state-owned factories. It was also a unique case in the sense that the community consisted of six thousand families, which was a manageable number for a voluntary self-help group, but large enough for the officials to understand the severity of the issue. Their community was located close to the pollution source, which gave the residents a sense of responsibility and power that allowed them to walk around and look for the source of pollution by themselves. They were also able to utilize the online forum only open to the residents of Warm Home to discuss possible protesting strategies without censorship from the government because the forum seemed so insignificant that it was under the radar of the Chinese government. The success of Warm Home community reinforced the effectiveness of the strategy to put pressure on local government officials and associate the air pollution condition closely with their personal interests in order to force them into action.

    Although having a group of people to perform organized acts of dissent could be more efficient than individual acts of dissent, it is unpractical to adopt the first method in big cities like Beijing because of several factors. Despite the fact that Beijing has the second most air pollution in China, there are no power plants or factories in sight for citizens living in Beijing. It is not because the heavy smog would cover the factories up, but because all of them are either in the less populated suburban or rural area outside of Beijing. As a result, it is difficult for the majority of people who are harmed by the air pollution to locate the source of the pollution and directly report their findings to the local government or the Ministry of Environmental Protection, though it is probably one of the most effective strategies of dissent as shown in the Warm Home community case. Besides, Beijing residents do not have the access to a low-key online forum with minimum government surveillance that everyone uses. For an ordinary Beijing citizen, organizing tens of thousands of people to protest against air pollution on popular social media would most certainly result in immediate censorship and a high possibility of getting arrested. Even if someone is able to organize a protest and protestors march down the streets of Beijing, it would be extremely hard for them to stay organized and rational, reach an agreement on what they are dissenting against, and communicate with their intended targets clearly. The residents in suburban and rural areas of Beijing would not have the same united and organized community as the residents of Warm Home because they are usually more spread out. Also, those who live near factories and power plants usually work there and definitely would not shut down their sources of income even if that means they are constantly exposed to severe air pollution. Because of these factors, Beijing residents are more likely to dissent effectively if they act more or less individually rather than trying to group up.

    When an individual Chinese citizen confronts an issue like air pollution in China, he/she would usually complain but do nothing about it, similar to most government officials who are able to set long-term goals but feel no incentive to take a more active role to improve the air quality in China that affects so many people's lives. However, if more people learn from the residents in Warm Home community who were able to target and identify the key figure they had to get in touch with and dissented in an organized way, more factories and power plants would be shut down by government officials who feel impelled to take a more active role. For individuals in big cities like Beijing, they can also put pressure on officials with simple and peaceful actions of dissent that attract media coverage like what Zou Yi did. Eventually the smog that is covering the cities in China like a grey veil, and the veil that the Chinese government uses to cover up the truth would be removed by more and more rational, educated dissenters.
     
     
     
     
     
  • Individual Autonomy: The Right of Choice - Catherine Luchars '15

    With the development of medicinal care in the past century, the balance between prolonging life and relieving suffering has become increasingly more controversial for doctors. Instead of death happening naturally or accidently on people’s own terms, it has moved to public hospitals. Physicians now control the outcomes of people’s lives, raising the question of whether the doctor’s authority serves a patient’s best interest.  The responsibility of making decisions on how to treat a patient must naturally shift from doctors and governmental authorities to patients and family members. Assuming an individual is competent and of a rational mind, being free from unwanted interference in order to uphold bodily integrity is a fundamental principle engrained into our democratic society. The right of individuals to choose their own medical care and the time, place, and manner of their death is implicit in the basic notion of personal autonomy and self-determination, and ultimately must take precedent over the governmental interest of protecting citizens by safeguarding their health.

    This contemporary issue over who should be making medical decisions is being disputed in a current court case in Connecticut. It involves Cassandra C., a 17-year-old girl, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September. In the face of grueling future medical treatments to combat this disease, Cassandra made the personal decision to forego chemotherapy altogether, despite its 80% chance survival rate, and cope with the fact that without treatment her chance of death is almost certain. This decision, supported by her mother, has entangled the two in a legal battle against the Connecticut State courts. It began after the surgical removal of Cassandra’s lymph node performed by local doctors. Following this, Cassandra and her mother planned on consulting with doctors in another state to seek another opinion, but the local doctors called Department of Children and Families, raising the issue of parental medical neglect. As a result, the Court ordered the removal of Cassandra from her mother’s custody until her mother “provided and cooperated with the medical care under DCF supervision and as recommended by her doctors”.  Cassandra and her mother subsequently complied with the court’s orders, but after Cassandra received her first two chemotherapy treatments, she ran away from home to avoid further treatment.  When she returned, the court “ordered that she be immediately removed from her home and that she remain in DCF’s care and custody”. They also authorized the DCF to “make all necessary medical decisions on Cassandra’s behalf.” She is now in a hospital receiving treatment under this court order.
     
    The court declared that not only Cassandra, a 17-year-old girl, is incompetent to make her own medical decisions, but her mother lacks the responsibility as well, bringing up issues regarding personal and family integrity. Cassandra’s mother has acknowledged the fact that her daughter will die without treatment.  Her mother declared that regardless of this outcome, “it’s her constitutional right—she doesn’t want poison and toxins in her body. It’s her choice, and I support her decision.” Cassandra “put up a fight” against the Connecticut state doctors to avoid chemotherapy, and ultimately had to be strapped down to the hospital bed. She reflects on her experience in a personal essay after being hospitalized in December, “ I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated. I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated.” Cassandra, currently confined to the hospital with limited communications and visits, specifically by her mother, writes that she feels suffocated by the court’s intervention and that nobody has let her breath. She ends her personal essay with the fundamental constitutional issue, “How long is a person actually supposed to live and who decides that?”

    The basic right for a person to choose not be touched or treated without consent, despite a potentially fatal outcome, has been consistently established in prior court decisions and should provide ample protection for Cassandra. Based on Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health, a case involving a woman who was permanently unconscious after a serious car accident, the Supreme Court recognized the right of any person deemed competent to refuse any medical treatment. The court limited this right by saying that states also have an interest in this matter, whether preserving life, preventing suicide, or upholding the ethical integrity of the medical profession.  Therefore, the court decided that a state has the ability to insist on clear and convincing evidence as to the patient’s wishes. This case, along with several others such as Quinlan vs. New Jersey and Bouvia v. Superior ushered the legal acceptance of what is now classified as passively hastening death. In Quinlan vs. New Jersey (1976), Karen Ann Quinlan stopped breathing and fell into a persistent vegetative state, with full recovery unlikely. Her family fought the courts to remove the respirator, figuring that’s what Karen would have wanted. The New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged both the right for Quinlan to refuse further treatment and her family’s right to make that decision for her by allowing her respirator to be removed. In Bouvia vs. Superior Court, the court recognized that a 30-year-old woman, who was a victim of cerebral palsy, had the right not be force fed through medical procedures, even if refusal led to her death. In these cases, the patients, whose prospects for a somewhat meaningful existence were almost certain, were still allowed to end their life by foregoing treatment. Courts hold that an individual’s right to privacy and to be free from unwanted bodily interferences affords an individual the ability to make this decision. 

    The courts distinguish the countervailing state interests of the preservation of life, the prevention of suicide, the protection of third parties, and upholding the ethical integrity of the medical profession from the ability to limit a patient to forgo medical treatment.  However, if a patient is terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or deemed competent by the courts to make rational medical decisions for themselves, these limitations have little effect. Ultimately, the courts view, as stated in Quinlan is that “the state’xs interests weaken and the individual’s right to privacy grows as the degree of bodily invasion increases and the prognosis dims”. They deem that allowing a patient to merely refuse medicine, even when it is life sustaining, is letting the disease or nature take its course, therefore not constituting suicide, which is generally condemned in most state and federal courts. In addition, they said that the government’s concern over the effect of the medical decision on a third party, such as a child, friend, or other close member, denies the patient of the choice of which risks to take. A person is obligated to evaluate their circumstances and judge what is best whether for themselves or those who might be affected. Ultimately, the right of individuals to make their own medical choice prevails over the interest of a third party. 

    They also recognize that this strong right does not sacrifice the ethical integrity of the medical profession because finding a cure to any and all disease is not the end goal anymore. Rather than treatment, the dying person is often in need of comfort.  This theme of compassion in doctors is highlighted in the decision of Superintendent of Belchertown State School v. Saikewicz, stating, “if the doctrines of informed consent and right of privacy have as their foundations the right to bodily integrity…and control of one’s own fate, then those rights are superior to the institutional considerations.”   These exceptions to the limitations on the right to refuse treatment directly apply to Cassandra’s situation. They uphold the basic human principles that not only is an individual obligated to make decisions for themselves, but also the doctor’s are obligated to respect those decisions, as the sole goal of treatment is not recovery for those suffering with severe, incapacitating illnesses. With modern technology affording a patient multiple medicinal routes to take, the patient must make the decision based on what they feel most comfortable with, eliciting the crucial right of privacy and self-determination. 

    Despite not being explicitly guaranteed as a fundamental right in the constitution, the right to privacy has become accepted in landmark Supreme Court cases in the past.  Dating back to 1891 in Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, the court recognized that the right of personal privacy or a “guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy” exists in the constitution.  Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade ruled that “in varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have found at least the roots of that right in the First Amendment; in the Fourth and Fifth amendments; in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights; in the Ninth Amendment or in the concept of liberty guaranteed by the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment.” From here he says that only personal rights that “can be deemed fundamental or implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” are included in this guarantee of personal privacy. 

    Based on this conclusion, Blackmun argues that a statute criminalizing a woman’s right to an abortion is unconstitutional. He points out the detriment that the state would impose upon the pregnant women by denying her choice to terminate her pregnancy.  He not only cites physical harms, but the psychological distress that would arise from an unwanted child who is unable to be cared for. This detriment has little distinction from the state refusing Cassandra and her mother’s, or, more generally, other seriously incapacitated patients’, choice as to how they will die. The series of harsh treatments that as Cassandra’s mother says “kills the cancer, but also kills everything else in your body” and the loss of autonomy, bodily functions, and the decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable should be reason enough for a person to be able to make this private decision.

    In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court acknowledges that matters i
    nvolving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the state.
     
    The state of Connecticut cannot punish Cassandra for having her own beliefs and concept of existence. If enduring the emotionally and physically painful process of chemotherapy does not feel worth it to Cassandra, the state must respect that and let her be. Connecticut claims that this recognized right does not apply to Cassandra on the sole basis that she is an incompetent patient since she is a minor (17 years old) and lacks the responsibility to make the decision for herself. However, previous courts have attempted to maintain the principles of autonomy by allowing a surrogate to make decisions regarding medical treatments for an incompetent patient. A surrogate, typically a close family member who best knows the patient and is most likely to act for the patient’s welfare, must apply the “substituted judgment standard,” by reflecting the patient’s probable wishes. In this case, Cassandra’s mom, acting as her surrogate, has decided to uphold Cassandra’s wishes. Despite being her legal guardian and authorized to make decisions for her daughter, Cassandra’s mother’s voice was discredited by Connecticut as well based on the conclusion that she did not have her daughter’s best interest in mind, accusing her of parental medical neglect. Yet, her mother was simply supporting her daughter’s decision. In fact, she even specifically remembers Cassandra remarking several years earlier that if she ever were to get cancer, she wouldn’t want chemotherapy. Her mother respected Cassandra’s long-standing views on this matter, and sought out second opinions on what Cassandra’s other options were besides chemotherapy. These actions cannot rationally be taken as “neglect” and, as Cassandra’s surrogate, it is within her right to make these decisions anyways.  
    The state rejects the argument that Cassandra should be given the authority to choose whether or not to undergo chemotherapy based on her maturity.  However, their evidence to determine her maturity is founded solely on her behavior in response to the state’s actions.  Following the initial trial court decision that allowed Cassandra to move back home in her mother’s custody if she submitted to the unwanted treatment, Cassandra decided to run away from home for several days and skipped several court-mandated chemotherapy appointments. An article in the Harvard Crimson notes Connecticut’s inconsistency saying, “a state should not have the right to base the legitimacy of its authority over her on the fact that she challenged the court’s legitimacy in the first place.” Essentially, Connecticut’s conviction that neither Cassandra nor her mother is rational in their decision to refuse treatment extinguishes the legitimacy of any right personal autonomy in the first place, as the medical decisions are only deemed rational if they consent to the authority of the state’s decision.

    Regardless of her maturity level and competency to make a decision, if Cassandra was born only several months earlier, the state would have no interest in this matter at all since she would be 18, and therefore considered old enough to make rational decisions.  This fact is impossible to ignore as it highlights the legitimacy of the state’s interest.  While protecting a minor from making a fatal decision is valid, they cannot justify the difference that only a few months would make on an individual’s capability to make a decision.  Cassandra’s lawyer points out this key point, asking “Can a smart and knowledgeable 17-year-old make the same choice, for better or for worse, than she would be able to make without state interference nine months from now, when she turns 18?” Once a person turns 18, their decision-making skills do not automatically improve.

    Many states have made efforts to counteract this fact by adopting a Mature Minors Doctrine, which holds that some minors possess the maturity to make their own medical decisions, even if they are younger than the age of legal adulthood. As of 2013, seventeen states have recognized some form of this doctrine . This law generally gives minors the ability to consent to medical treatment against the wishes of their parents, often relating to giving teenagers the right to get an abortion. Connecticut is one of the states that has not implemented any aspect of this legislation and instead continually refuses to acknowledge that there is no rigid, defining age of maturity. Their complete denial of this inconsistency undermines their claims of governmental interest by not truly evaluating a person’s maturity beyond their age. Courts have ruled that minors can refuse treatment before. In 2007, 14-year-old Dennis Lindberg died of leukemia after refusing to undergo life-saving blood transfusions. The state of Washington allowed him to make the decision for himself because he was a Jehovah’s Witness and blood transfusions are banned in his faith. This is no different from Cassandra.  While her decision might not be influenced by her religion, it is still based on her own beliefs on human existence.  

    Admittedly, a 17-year-old girl deciding to succumb to a disease that will most likely end her life is an agonizing thought. Yet, it must be recognized that no matter what, death is one of the most mystifying aspects of human life. Ultimately, it has to be up to the individual to rationalize their concept of it for themselves. Permitting Cassandra to “form and live in accordance with her own conception of a good life, at least within the bounds of justice and consistent with others doing so as well” is a right that the state simply cannot repeal. If Cassandra would rather succumb to her death than endure the “poison”  that would be put into her body to counteract her dying and the emotional toll it would take on her, then she should be able to. The state’s interest in her maturity to handle this based on her age is essentially arbitrary and their failure to yield to her wishes as well as her legal guardian’s sacrifices both of their liberty altogether. It reveals that regardless of whether someone is capable of making a rational decision or not, if it is not in accordance with the ideas of the authority, then the authority may disregard it. Connecticut’s actions, despite its good intentions of safeguarding health and protecting a minor, cross personal boundaries that destroy Cassandra’s individual autonomy and lack any compelling justification. This case and along with others cited throughout this paper clearly illustrate that a governmental interference with a noble cause, if left unchecked and pushed too far, can cause more damage than good and ultimately threaten an individual’s inherent right to free will and independence—two core values fundamental to a democratic society.
     
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  • Reading The Master and the Margarita in Saint Petersburg - Lucy Papachristou '14

    On March 5, 1953, the citizens of the Soviet Union breathed a sigh of relief. Joseph Stalin was dead. In the years following his death up until the demise of the Soviet Union, the intellectual classes engaged in an elaborate system of underground publishing called samizdat, which involved not only the various literary and political factions of the Soviet Union but also intellectual circles in the West. The primary paradigm of the Soviet Union during this time was that the Soviet government had a monopoly on the possession and circulation of ideas and thought. While there certainly existed in great numbers samizdat works of political and social significance, the true threat to the Soviet regime samizdat posed was not in its content, but in its very existence, in what it stood for. Samizdat was a kind of “gateway dissent,” deriving its power from its ability to build foundations—connections between people of different backgrounds living on opposite ends of the globe—upon which future change could occur. Thus the content of the works was not of great importance; rather, it was the effect experienced by each person or social group as the clandestine material was passed from hand to hand that generated the most powerful dissent. By creating this channel of communication to encourage the exchange of thought, samizdat served to subvert the paradigm of the Soviet regime.

    One of the most important effects of samizdat stemmed from the quintessential characteristics of the text itself. Samizdat was produced by individually typing-out the works on privately-owned typewriters due to a lack of copy machines, the few of which were operated exclusively by the government. Once finished, the typescripts were then shared among a circle of trustworthy friends and acquaintances. Often retyped by dozens of typists during their lifetime, the typescripts were riddled with typos and grammatical errors. Ann Komaromi calls samizdat an “object-sign,” meaning that the physical product has value in and of itself. A western reviewer describes this idealization from the Russian perspective: “‘the memory of a first encounter with Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago is as much a physical memory—the blurry mimeographed text, the dog-eared paper, the dim glow of the lamp switched on late at night—as it is one of reading the revelatory text itself.’”

    The visceral feelings experienced from the examination of the text had great implications for the ideological connections the work eventually served to form. The name “samizdat” is a parody of the word Gosizdat, the acronym for the state publishing house, and the underground publishing houses milked the idea that samizdat was a clandestine parody of the powerful state institution to their advantage. Komaromi describes how samizdat was an “opportunity for carnivalesque consumption, something on which to get high.”  There was a primitive sense of thrill derived from circulating, possessing, and reading such illicit material. However, the real danger samizdat posed to the Soviet regime was not due to the content which so enthralled the reader, but what it represented. In an article written for Canadian Slavonic Papers entitled “From Gosizdat to Samizdat and Tamizdat,” D. Pospielovsky calls samizdat a “historically unprecedented phenomena” because it is “a product of a system which rejects and bans independent thought as a matter of principle…” not because it was “considered to be a direct threat to the public order.” From the perspective of the Kremlin, neither the subject nor the content of work mattered as much as what it represented. Samizdat was an act of restoration—returning power back into the hands of the people. This posed a great threat to the Gosizdat, who had previously had control over the circulation of ideas and was now unable to ease the flow. On this most basic level, samizdat formed a connection between author and reader—not because of any political agenda espoused or cultural phenomenon elucidated, but merely due to its physical presence and tangibility.

    The circulation of samizdat caused immediate and widespread government crackdowns, proving that the material did in fact have an effect on the ability of the Soviet government to operate in the way in which it wanted to. The empowerment people experienced as a result of distributing and reading samizdat breached the concrete walls of Soviet control. The first government action occurred in September of 1965 when two writers, Andrei Sinyavksy and Yuli Daniel, were arrested and charged under article 70, which prohibited “agitation or propaganda carried on for the purpose of subverting or weakening the Soviet Regime.”  After a number of resulting protests and three petitions signed by Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, the XXIII Congress passed 190-1 and 190-3 into the Criminal Code. The articles condemned public protest and the dissemination, production, or printing of “anti-Soviet slander.”  The head of the KGB in 1970, Yuri Andropov, went so far as to say, “the Committee for State Security is taking the requisite measures to terminate the efforts of individuals to use ‘samizdat’ to disseminate slander against the Soviet state…they are under criminal prosecution…”  The “prosecution” of Alexander Solzhenitsyn ended in his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974, and Natalya Gorbanevskaya, a human rights activist, was sent to a psychiatric facility in 1969 for two years.  While the preceding examples prove that samizdat was capable of disturbing the foundations of the Soviet government, as the following examples will demonstrate, the subversiveness of samizdat lay not in its content, but in its power to bring otherwise disparate groups of people together and lay the seeds for future dissent.

    In an example of a second class of connection formed by samizdat, the actions of two disparate political groups resulted in the revolutionizing of the very structure of the underground publishing houses. Their specific discussions, however, were irrelevant to the outcome of their relationship: the subversion of the Soviet political paradigm. The two groups involved were the socialists and the democrats, the former of which revered Leninism and the old Soviet ways and the latter of which turned their heads wistfully towards Western liberal democracy.  When Brezhnev visited Washington in June of 1973, socialists and democrats were thrown into widespread debate over the possible source of reforms in the Soviet Union, for which both sides lay in hopeful expectation as a result of the détente.  Eventually, Medvedev was worn down and conceded that pressure from the West and from the lower Russian classes could in fact generate change. This democrat “victory,” which crowned Sakharov as the “conscience of the Soviet dissent movement,”  had profound implications for the future of  samizdat.

    While Sakharov’s deification may appear to be the outcome of the debate, the more profound result actually involved the democratization of the samizdat system, a process which served to undermine the paradigm of the Soviet Union. After the democrats obtained control over samizdat and gained credibility in the eyes of the other dissident factions, some party members expressed a desire to reorganize and rejuvenate the democratic movement. Plans were made to unite democrats using kolizdat—collective samizdat produced using a “‘home-made printing apparatus’” —so that information and ideas could flow more efficiently. However, another group of democrats, among them P. A. Abovin-Egides and P. Podrabinek, believed that it was in the best interests of the democrats to reach over to other dissident groups, such as the socialists and the Slavophiles.  A third internal faction believed that democrats should work towards going “‘back to the people’” by making an effort to write a “‘common language’” with “‘men on the street.’”  All three of these ideas were extremely important for the future of samizdat. The first two proposals were all about facilitating connections, both within the faction and among other dissident groups. Stronger connections meant a more reliable flow of information and therefore a better-armored militia of dissent to wage peaceful war on the Soviet government. The third proposal, in which the democrats strove to relate to the common man, was in fact borrowed from their own political ideologies. It was only when these ideas were implemented, however, that the democrats began to challenge the authority of the Soviet government.

    The concept of the role of the individual in society, closely tied to the philosophical concept of democracy, was another important aspect of samizdat that aided dissidents in their quest to subvert the Soviet system. The Russian dissident Andrei Amalrik believes that in contrast to most dissident movements, samizdat was unique in that it did not require the individual to “sacrifice [his or her] ‘I’ for the sake of the general public.”  The “I” was in fact elevated to previously unforeseen status in the dissident movement. However, instead of living just for oneself—for the sake of the “I”—the individual became part of a larger collection of “I”s, living “with all and for all.”  Everything about samizdat, from its production to consumption, therefore became an act of searching for and expressing the self within a network of similarly-seeking souls. This confluence of otherwise isolated people was essentially the creation of a make-shift democracy. Democracy—from the Greek demos meaning people—is fundamentally concerned with establishing a chain of communication between the government and its citizens. The government knows what its citizens think, and the citizens are able to criticize the government. In Soviet Russia, the democrats were essentially building a miniature model of a democracy within the confines of an extremely rigid communist system. Not only did this democracy aid the flow of ideas, but its very existence was poisonous to the Soviet regime, whose survival depended upon universal acceptance of communist ideals. This concept of going back to the people, of involving everyone—not just the intellectual circles—in the dissident movement, directly subverted the contemporary paradigm: the Soviet government has a complete monopoly on the flow of thought.

    Although the process by which the samizdat system was democratized was facilitated by the existence of samizdat (all of the socialist-democrat and democrat-democrat discussions were conducted via samizdat), the subversion of the paradigm of the Soviet Union was not a result of the content of the debate. The substance of the debate was not, after all, about ways to bring samizdat back to the people or create a network of “I” spheres. Samizdat itself accomplished that organically; its very existence and facilitation of the connection between the two dissident groups caused that outcome—not anything that was actually verbally communicated. In the next and final example of the effects of samizdat, a similar phenomenon occurred when two countries banded together to, albeit unwittingly, sow the seeds of future revolutions.

    The final case of a samizdat relationship most aptly demonstrates the concept of “gateway dissent” because the connection formed between the two parties served to lay the foundation for more potent acts of dissent in the future. This connection is singular in nature because it involves two vastly different groups of people: émigré Poles residing in Sweden and the opposition forces back in Poland. During the period of détente in the 1970s, Poland looked toward neutral Sweden as a possible “channel” between them and the West, a bridge across the mighty Iron Curtain.  In the early 1970s, Poland and Sweden began to take advantage of the two countries’ shared Baltic Sea ports to circulate samizdat material—a method far safer and convenient than transporting the works by land, as was previously done.  In 1976, however, the articles being smuggled changed. After a series of antigovernment protests in Poland that spurred the founding of a number of human rights and social change organizations, an increasing number of underground publishing houses began to crop up in Poland, notably Niezależna Oficyna Wydawnicza (Independent Printing House, NOWa).  Almost all of these new publishing houses, including NOWa, received their supplies (mimeograph machines, typewriter ribbons, pressure rollers, etc.) from Sweden.  In addition, their relationship with Sweden allowed the dissidents to quickly develop strong relationships to a larger émigré complex in important Western cities, most notably Paris, London, and New York.  (Kultura, perhaps the most influential of all Polish samizdat journals, was published by a Pole living in Paris. ) For the first time since the birth of the Soviet Union—or at least since the end of Khrushchev’s Thaw—the Iron Curtain had been successfully breached. And samizdat itself was the vehicle which carried these relationships over the Curtain.

    But what is the significance of this growing alliance between Poles and Swedes? The important question to ask here is how this relationship was perceived back at the Kremlin. The answer requires a leap forward to 31 August, 1980, when the Polish Solidarity movement (Solidarność)—began at the Gdańsk Shipyard,  the first non-communist labor union in the Soviet Union.  Samizdat, as it turned out, played a pivotal role in the development of this movement. Pamphlets were often handed out at the shipyard and activists frequently published organizational announcements to inform the public about what was going on.  The development of Solidarność was a crucial step towards the destruction of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet bloc. In June 1989, members of Solidarność were elected to seats in Parliament, electing in August of that year Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first noncommunist premier since the 1940s.

    But what does this have to do with Sweden? The answer is that without the relationship Polish dissidents formed with Sweden (which led to, of course, the founding of numerous samizdat publishers, many of which aided in the circulation of samizdat during the Solidarność years), Solidarność would not have been nearly as organized, efficient, or efficacious as it was. The samizdat produced in the early 1970s with the help of Sweden can therefore be classified as “gateway dissent,” for it lay the foundations for future acts of far more extensive and profound dissent. However, the samizdat of the early 1970s did not cause the events of 1980 in its content, but rather in its existence; the relationships it formed during that time led directly to Poland’s ability to start a large-scale revolution. In this way, Swedish-Polish samizdat did indeed subvert the existing political paradigm of the Soviet Union—although it did take nearly a decade to lay out the groundwork. Solidarność proved that the people did have a voice of their own separate from the dictations of the Kremlin—and they proved this by their usage of samizdat.

    The existence of samizdat in the Soviet Union was one of the most remarkable acts of dissent in the history of oppressed populations. It had a strong presence in many countries in the Soviet bloc and involved thousands of people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds who would have otherwise remained socially isolated. However, despite the positive outcomes samizdat produced, what was written down on the page was not of great importance in the grander scheme of events. The discussions between the socialists and the democrats did not reach the ears of the Kremlin; what did was due more to what samizdat stood for than what it was actually trying to express. The connection formed between the Sweden and Poland in the 1970’s—not the content of the samizdat which they produced together—helped to set to the stage a few years later when the Polish Solidarity movement was born. In short, presence was of more significance than substance. The effects of samizdat in the twentieth century pose interesting questions in the twenty-first. The path of Russian dissent is yet unknown. Who will step up to the plate and challenge Putin’s totalitarian monstrosity? Will it be Pussy Riot? Alexei Navalny? In the years ahead, who or what will replace samizdat?
     
     
     
  • An Underestimated Burden: the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate - Caroline Whalen '14

    According to recent Supreme Court decisions, a corporation, while innately different from an individual, has the right to freedom of expression. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act undermines these rights through its contraceptive coverage mandate, which requires companies to supply health care with affordable access to contraceptives. This mandate causes strife for religious company owners by questioning the right to freedom of expression. Although the government says its purpose “furthers a compelling governmental interest,” the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates those rights. The essential question, therefore, is rooted in the balance between the protection of companies’ rights against furthering “a compelling governmental interest” claimed by the government, which is providing access to contraceptives. The rights of companies must be protected for three fundamental reasons: the literal and implicit meanings of the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act; the legitimacy of the “substantial burden” companies feel; and the lack of seriousness of the burden placed on women. These organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit alike, should have the means to express their religious views in an unrestricted way, including the opposition to contraceptives.
     
    The constitutional issue can be answered in several parts, the first being whether companies have religious rights under the First Amendment. The issue with the application of the First Amendment to companies lies first in the controversial application of these rights to companies, as generally they are considered to apply solely to individuals. However, a close reading of the words of the First Amendment and RFRA can be used to explain how they apply to for-profit companies. As emphasized in the brief presented to the Court in the 10th Circuit hearing of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius, “The First Amendment's text makes no distinctions about who may exercise religion; it simply forbids Congress from "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]."’  This can be understood to mean that the First Amendment is not written in such a manner that it applies to a specific group or individual. Moreover, as stated in Citizens United v. FEC (2010), “Political speech is “indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual.’”  When the Supreme Court gave First Amendment rights to a for-profit company, and decided that regulation of such rights was not allowed, it promoted the idea that regardless of the entity, expression cannot be regulated. Although speech is different from religion, both are protected through First Amendment rights.
     
    The literal translation of the Constitution is not the only reason that the companies have standing; it is also in the spirit of the law. The question is whether the birth control mandate violates anything that the First Amendment is meant to protect. For example, as mentioned in the appellant’s brief in Hobby Lobby 10th Circuit Court case, the Supreme Court wrote in the First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti decision, "[t]he proper question ... is not whether corporations 'have' First Amendment rights and, if so, whether they are coextensive with those of natural persons. Instead the question must be whether [the challenged law] abridges expression that the First Amendment was meant to protect."  This highlights the importance of evaluating the depth of protection offered by the First Amendment, rather than solely supporting an argument based on the question of protection in regards to specific groups. The goal of the First Amendment seems simple: protect expression from being regulated. This proposition, though, when considered in the case of religion, is not so straightforward. The freedom of religion extends beyond the right to practice any faith, but rather includes the ability to express religious beliefs and ideas in any manner.
     
    This idea is counter to what some supporters of the contraceptive coverage mandate believe. In their view, “’[Corporations] have no soul, and they certainly don't have a relationship with God.’”  This observation, although true, does not deny for-profit corporations the right to freedom of expression as their owners and shareholders see fit. As highlighted by the Belloti decision, the actual practice of religion by the specific entity is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether the First Amendment, if it applies to for-profit companies, aims to protect those organizations from such a thing as a health care mandate. It does. The Freedom of Expression clause aims to protect any exercise of religion, which is not limited to the physical practicing of a faith. Freedom of religion extends far beyond the explicit meaning; it includes the right to express religious views and ideas, along with the right to abstain from acts that violate said religious beliefs. This implicit right is what the contraceptive coverage mandate infringes upon. The First Amendment specifies no individual or group to which it applies. Rather, it simply states that the government has no ability to create laws, which would prohibit such expression. The moral issue of the contraceptive coverage mandate adds to the controversial atmosphere regarding the topic. The government is essentially asking that storeowners abandon their religious views when entering the workplace. In an attempt to “further a compelling governmental interest,” the government is imposing its views on the importance of one group over another.
     
    The government has made some concessions in this mandate, in which they have exempted religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations to escape the requirements. Such exemptions highlight a main component of the argument against the mandate. For example, the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is a nonprofit religious group, is temporarily exempt from the mandate.  Highlighted in this example is the difference between for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the eyes of the government, a distinction that plays a role currently in Congress’s enforcement of the mandate. This concession by the government to allow religious organizations to be exempt shows that these requirements have a significant religious impact. This concession alone contradicts the government’s argument that this mandate has no substantial religious burden. If the government can recognize this for certain religious organizations, it is not plausible that no burden is placed on for-profit companies.
     
    The facts of the mandate reflect the substantial burden placed upon companies. Established in August 2012, the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employee group health plans and health insurance issuers to include coverage for “’[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.’”  These contraceptive methods, as defined by the FDA, include barrier and hormonal methods, implants, and emergency contraceptives.  In addition to the access to such methods, preventative health care, including mammograms, and prenatal care, must be available to women without cost sharing.  These requirements, as part of the Affordable Care Act currently apply to all companies with fifty employees or more, except for churches and other religious organizations, which have been exempted from these requirements.

    The contraceptive coverage mandate has become the subject of over forty cases, including Korte v. United States Department of Health and Human Services and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius. These cases are dependent on the idea that these for-profit company owners feel a substantial burden placed upon their religious beliefs by the mandate. Korte, a Catholic appellant, claimed that the mandate violated his religious beliefs through supplying contraceptives, which included methods he considered abortion.  Similarly, the Greens, the owners of Hobby Lobby Inc., reject four types of contraceptives that they consider abortion, as “those four methods cause abortions by blocking a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.”  This concept highlights the main issue for these for-profit companies and their owners; the issue is moral, as well as constitutional.
     
    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision written by Judge Richard Posner, considered this question, but failed to recognize the problem that the contraceptive coverage mandate causes for religious company owners. This issue is just what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was meant to prevent. The RFRA, established to protect free exercise of religion, states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.”  Thus, an argument for the mandate is that the company must present how the government has “substantially burden[ed]” it. For example, the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic institution, appealed the requirement placed upon them to abide by the mandate. However, the Court stated, in a 2-1 decision that, “Notre Dame "has not yet shown that there is a substantial burden" in complying with the birth control mandate.”  Judge Posner wrote, “If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame's authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those (insurance) companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to 'trigger' the provision of female contraceptives.”  This is highlighted as the Court’s issue with the claim of a substantial burden, as they fail to see a company’s abiding by the contraceptive coverage mandate as the organization’s active support of contraceptives. This decision came after the exemption on religious nonprofits, but Notre Dame still felt that “this is inadequate because they would still be complicit in providing contraception coverage,” even if the health insurance provider is technically responsible. This, alone, is a “substantial burden” on organizations, as the compliance with the mandate still is an act against specific religious views.
     
    Judge Posner, in his decision to prevent Notre Dame from escaping any connection to contraception coverage, underestimates the burden that this mandate places upon individuals and organizations, for-profit and nonprofit alike. For-profit companies should not be considered any different than nonprofits claiming religious affiliation. Although superficially secular, for-profit company owners and supporters should have access to freedom of expression in a similar way. The United States Conference of Catholic bishops described the substantial burden placed upon organizations, specifically for-profit companies. They stated, “The notion that for-profit entities cannot exercise religion rests on an unduly narrow view of religious liberty… Such an approach would jeopardize the religious exercise of millions of Catholics who sincerely believe they are called to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives, including in the workplace.”   Thus, the burden placed upon the owners of the corporations is this: to condone and supply group health care under the contraceptive coverage mandate would require those individuals to indefinitely suspend their religious beliefs in the workplace. This is not something that can be asked of an individual, regardless of his or her role in the workplace. Thus, the owners of the corporation should be entitled to their protected right of expressing their religious views through objecting to the mandate.
     
    When considering the possible burden placed upon the various entities, the contraceptive coverage mandate’s consequences must also be considered. The consequence of avoiding the mandate is a monetary fine per employee. For example, if Hobby Lobby, Inc. decided to pay the fine rather than offer health care with contraceptive coverage, their fine would be $1.3 million a day.  This fine, annually, would cost Hobby Lobby, which has 13,000 employees, $475 million.  This burden would, in fact, be less if the company dropped the coverage of health care entirely, as that fine would be $26 million annually.  Both of these burdens, though, are forms of an alternative “substantial burden” to the one that the mandate itself places on companies. Arguably, this could cause more companies to drop health care coverage altogether if the contraceptive coverage mandate is something with which they don’t agree. Not only that, but through the coercive nature of the fines, the government is causing further turmoil for the company owners. To abide by the birth control mandate would violate their religious beliefs, but to opt out of that requirement would cause a huge financial problem. When combined, these two options ultimately disempower the company, giving them no option that does not add weight to their situation. 
     
    Another use of the term “burden” is used by the supporters of the mandate, but in regards to the “burden” placed upon women by society. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that about half of the pregnancies in the United States are not planned.  This fact, when noted with the idea that approximately 10.7 million women currently use oral contraceptives,  highlights the government’s interest in offering more widespread and more economically suitable access to contraceptives. The issue that the government is trying to erase, which can be claimed as “compelling governmental interest,”  is one in which women end up spending more money on health care than men, which creates a “type of sex bias.”  Thus, supporters of the mandate say, “That makes effective and affordable birth control an essential benefit.”  However, in this statement lies the issue with the argument for relieving the women of this “sex bias”. Birth control is an “essential benefit”, but not a necessity. Thus, to place a “substantial burden” on companies and individuals in an attempt to erase a burden on women caused by choice rather than by health requirements does not meet constitutional requirements. 
     
    The First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act both contain implicit rights to freedom of religion, which extend to for-profit and nonprofit companies. The contraceptive coverage mandate burdens the individuals and companies alike, in that it infringes upon the enumerated rights already established. Moreover, it burdens the ability for company owners to freely express their religious ideas in the workplace, all for an acclaimed interest of the government’s to protect women from a “sex bias”. Taking away the rights of some to protect another group is not acceptable, and not something that this nation should want to accept. 
  • The World of Digital Natives - Kalli Havens '09

    The world wide web is a communication tool, as it successfully involves itself in the “imparting or exchanging of information or news” as well as “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.” Since the internet was introduced as a way for military units to communicate with one another, it has revolutionized the way we all communicate, learn, play and even think. The echo of the baby boom created a generation of Digital Natives, a generation unlike any other because they were the first to grow up completely immersed in a digital world.  We now spend more time using web services than we do running traditional software applications from the computer's hardrive. Author of the book Grown Up Digital, Don Tapscott wrote, “For the first time in history, children are more comfortable, knowledgeable, and literate than their parents with an innovation central to society. And it is through the use of the digital media that the [Digital Natives] will develop and superimpose its culture on the rest of society.”   In a time where social networking sites, chat rooms, IMing, video-sharing, online games, cell phones and iPods are rudiments of Digital Native culture, it is hard to imagine life without them.  These adolescents are not only developing and maturing in their offline world, but they are doing so surrounded by new mediums for communication, self-expression and forming connections. 

    Digital Natives have become dependent upon technology, and thus there are plenty of concerns and criticisms of this generation of young people. Don Tapscott suggests that among the top ten issues surrounding the Digital Native's use of the internet are “they are dumber than we (baby boomers) were at their age,”  “they steal and have become masters of plagiarism,” “they're bullying friends online,” “they're violent,” “they have no work ethic,” “current technology fuels an increase in narcissism,” “their only interests are in popular culture, celebrities and their friends,” and that they are “net addicted, losing their social skills, and they have no time for sports or healthy activities.”  With all of the concerns and challenges that are concomitant with digital immersion, it is hard to imagine that the immersion has not hurt Digital Natives overall. Though it will be acknowledged that in some cases the introduction of the internet, and electronic multitasking may happen at the expense of some face-to-face family interaction, there is no doubt that the Digital Natives are a social and community oriented generation who thrive in the digital world and that the introduction of the internet has increased the Digital Natives' web of connections, as the digital media has provided Digital Natives with a vehicle to both form connections with strangers that they might be able to better identify with as well as to enhance their relationships with their family and peers.
    In a study done on “The Anthropology of Online Communities,” Samuel M. Wilson and Leighton C. Peterson begin by explaining that “through most of the 1980s and 1990s, the conviction was widespread that the growing and evolving communications medium comprising inter-networked computers would enable the rapid and fundamental transformation of social and political orders.”  Throughout the 1990s there were a series of hypothesizes published, all suggesting different futures of the internet and what significance it might have. However, it was soon seen that these predictions could quickly become irrelevant, especially as the number of those connected through the internet increased.

    Digital Natives have a vast array of electronic tools at their fingertips for communication purposes.  Most often, Digital Natives are communicating with instant messaging, cell phones and social networking sites.  However, popular communication forms also include e-mail, text messaging, chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs, video sharing, photo sharing and multiplayer online computer games.  “Communications or interactions mediated by these applications are best referred to as media, which, is best defined by what it is not: face-to-face communication.”  With the introduction, and influence of such tools in an adolescent's life, researchers and parents alike wonder how these communication forms have changed traditional patterns of interaction amongst teens, and whether all the time spent online communicating is happening at the expense of face to face communication.  As Patricia Greenfield and Kaveri Subrahmanyam address in their essay on “Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships,” to accurately assess how the internet revolution has altered relationships amongst certain groups of people, the researchers must be able to compare the relationship before and after the technology is introduced. Unfortunately, it is too late for such research to occur on the Digital Natives in the United States.  Other issues with this research include the fact that “the multitasking nature of most online communication makes it hard for subjects to provide a realistic estimate of time they spend on different activities,” and the fact that frequent shifts in popularity of online sites means that data on time usage can quickly become outdated. In spite of these challenges, the studies have displayed that electronic media has increased a Digital Native's connections by means of increased communication tools and an increased number of online communities.  Focusing particularly on the Digital Natives' relationships with strangers, their family and their already existing friends,  the introduction of the new digital media and the internet has not certainly increased the Digital Natives' web of connections.

    Wilson and Peterson wrote, “the growth of the global computer network known as the Internet has facilitated the rapid emergence of online interactions of dispersed groups of people with shared interests.” There is a common misconception that Digital Natives are losing the intimacy of their connections with close friends and family because they are spending so much time on the internet   making connections with strangers.  Due to the fact that online communications lack important features of face-to-face communication, “they are believed to be less rich than offline ones,” and these relationships are “believed to represent weak ties, which have been characterized as relationships that have superficial and easily broken bonds, infrequent contact, and narrow focus.” In 2002, a survey revealed that 25 percent of Digital Natives had formed casual online friendships.  Though one may not initially see the value of an online relationship with a stranger, online communication with strangers offers benefits for some Digital Natives as they further increase their web of connections. 

    Digital Natives who cannot find connections with other teens elsewhere, and those teens who have extreme passions often turn to the internet based communities in the hopes of connecting with someone similar to them. The internet is filled with discussion groups devoted to the interests of many Digital Natives such as music groups and bands, TV shows, sports, health, sexuality, fashion and college admission. Within these groups of people with shared interests, the adolescents do not always know each other.  In the case of interest-driven connections, “youth turn to networked publics to connect with like-minded peers who share knowledge and expertise that may not be available to them locally.”  In these discussion groups, teens seem to find satisfaction in the anonymity of such communication, feeling more comfortable asking strangers questions.  Troubled adolescents are more likely to have formed close online relationships through different online communities. “Girls who had high levels of conflict with their parents and boys who had low levels of communication were more likely to have formed close relationships.”  Similarly, troubled Digital Natives will turn to strangers in a chat room, looking to divulge more information that they might choose to give up with a friend or family member.  In a study conducted looking to find characteristics of those who are more likely to interact with strangers, and for what reasons adolescents turn to strangers, “extroverts formed online friendships so that they could self-disclose more and engage in more frequent online communication.  Introverts formed online friendships to compensate for their poorer social skills.”   One study showed that “online interactions with unknown peers help adolescents recover from the sting of social rejection.”

    Because teens might often turn to a stranger, one might think that this has caused a decrease in connections amongst Digital Natives, but rather, teens are increasing their connections, and benefiting by contacting strangers. “The interpersonal connections with strangers made possible by electronic media may be particularly valuable for youth suffering from illnesses such as AIDS, eating disorders, and self-injurious behavior, about which they may not feel comfortable talking with their friends in person.  Online bulletin boards and chat rooms allow youth to form such connections.” For American Digital Natives, “the availability of networked public culture appears to be particularly important for marginalized youth, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered teens, as well as for teens who are otherwise marked as different and cannot easily find similar individuals in their local schools and communities.”  On these sites, they can meet different people. The internet has allowed those who do not always feel connected to the people surrounding them to feel connected to people who have shared experiences. “Contact with unknown peers in forums such as chat rooms and social networking sites might help adolescents cope with threats to “belonging” in their offline lives.”

    Another common misconception is that the Digital Natives' parents feel that the internet is taking away from face-to-face communication and family interactions.  A “concern is growing that adolescents' extensive use of electronic communication to interact with their peers may impair their relations with their parents, siblings and other family members.”  Further, “electronic multitasking has become pervasive, sometimes at the expense of face-to-face family interaction.”  Because the digital media was introduced to the parents of Digital Natives, while the Digital Natives were born into a world of technology, parents are apprehensive to acknowledge the benefits of the electronic communication tools.  Both Digital Natives and their parents agree that the children know more about the internet than their parents do.  “In the 2001 Pew Report, 64 percent of teens believed they knew more than their parents about communicating online and 66 percent of their parents agreed.”  A 2008 survey asked Digital Natives to answer the question, “Which would you rather do: spend time with your friends or with your family?”  Digital Natives growing up in the United States responded saying 60 percent would rather spend time with their family, while 40 percent would prefer to spend time with their friends, proving that electronic communication has not made adolescents less interested in face to face communication with their families.  While the influence of the internet in the life of a Digital Native causes many parent-child conflicts, it has also provided them with many benefits. 

    Adults do not place priority on hanging out, and thus children find that they no longer have to burden their parents with their plans, as they have found other outlets for socializing.  In response to the “limited availability of unrestricted computer and internet access, competing responsibilities such as household chores and extracurricular activities, and lack of mobility (transportation),” Digital Natives have developed ways to subvert barriers to hanging out through the internet.  More and more parents are turning to digital media for text messaging and instant messaging to communicate with their adolescents.  The introduction of digital media has also benefited families in that “parents often mobilized around their kids by trying to learn about and buy new things.”  Developmentally it has been shown that children can benefit from teaching their parents.  As Digital Natives have an understood expertise in the area of digital media, technology is one area in which children, who typically feel inferior to adults, can play an important role as the family's technology expert.  In a study called 'The Digital Youth Project,' done to help determine how digital media is changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life, the primary researchers for the 'project' found that, “in contrast to the generational tensions that are so often emphasized in the popular media, families to come together around new media to share media and knowledge, play together, and stay involved in each other's lives.”
    The different communication forms that Digital Natives have access to also allow them to  better communicate with existing friends and family.  As supported by my own ethnography on Facebook culture and use amongst teenagers, with the exception of those Digital Natives who choose to interact with strangers online, “adolescents use these communication tools primarily to reinforce existing relationships, both friendships and romantic relationships, and to check out the potential of new entrants to their offline world.”  In recent years there has been a more significant turn to technology led by the Digital Natives who are more likely to use these communication tools to find their friends and family online or with their cell phones.  To maintain connections, and to connect with pre-existing friends, text messaging, instant messaging an social networking sites are most often used.

    When asked to describe describing why they liked AIM (AOL Instant Messaging) so much, adolescents' answers included, “Once you get used to it, you can have five or ten conversations at once!,” “I keep in touch with all my friends that way,” and “I talk to everyone all the time and I know what's going on in their lives.”  Teens use instant messaging mainly to connect with offline friends.  While AIM has many of the features of face-to-face communication such as turn-taking, greetings and joking, “IM usage adds one or more dimensions to the written medium—and...by doing so it transcends the written medium,” contributing to its popularity.  As many Digital Natives use the same vocabulary  in an IM conversation as they would in a face-to-face conversation, most of a Digital Native's connections are of the same value as a face-to-face conversation, and by talking to more people they can further extend their web of connections.  At a place like Millbrook, students said they used Instant Messaging more than social networking sites not only because it was faster, but because it could serve as an effective substitute for face to face communication and phone calls to transfer information with a lot of people at the same time.  Students were using IM chiefly to communicate with friends from outside of school, but one student explained that IM was more popular than Facebook because she “could ask questions to people that were on campus without having to actually go find them.  It makes things a lot easier and is really convenient.” Adolescents have found IMing helpful and more convenient in staying connected, as they “negotiate a complex social world in which relationships are managed and maintained for hours at a time.”  In Susan D. Blum's survey, which was a part of her study on Instant Messaging, she found that 97 percent of the students use IM.  Still, 35 percent of those users said that they use face-to-face communication most, while 33 percent used IM the most.  The value of IM is that in a short period of time, and while doing other things (multitasking), people can have a large number of interactions.  Blum and her students also found that, “By allowing users to instantly share information with a large number of people in a small amount of time, IM is helping users to better 'stay in touch' with one another.” 

    Another form of instant communication that has recently become popular with American Digital Natives is text messaging with their peers.  A study conducted reveals that there were three primary conversation threads throughout text messages, “chatting (discussing activities and events, gossip and homework help), planning (coordinating meeting arrangements) and coordinating communication (having conversations about having conversations).”  Thus, teens are better connected as through this digital media they remain in constant communication with one another.  The BlackBerry is a prime example of a digital media tool providing someone with sustained connection to friends, co-workers, a workplace or a school, as the cell-phone has incorporated web services, so that people can use Facebook, e-mail and other methods of instant communication. Even still, the concern arises as some might suggest that Digital Natives will use IM and text messaging as a substitute for face-to-face talk, and thus might feel less close to their IM partners.  Nevertheless, Digital Natives “have so wholly embraced instant messaging (both on cell phones and on computers) despite its perceived limitations because it satisfies two important developmental needs of adolescence—connecting with peers and enhancing their group identity by enabling them to join offline cliques or crowds without their more formal rules.”

    With the intentions of broadening their social group, and extending their web and intensity of connections, “Youth use MySpace, Facebook and IM to post status updates—how they are fairing in their relationships, their social lives, and in other everyday activities—that can be viewed by the broader networked public of their peers.  In turn, they can browse other people's updates to get a sense of the status of others without having to engage in direct communication.”  Another common misconception about Digital Natives' use of the internet is that due to the informality of the communication methods, the lack of face-to-face contact and the public sharing of information on networking sites, their friendships may be negatively affected, and in turn their well-being.  On the contrary, according to a 2001 Pew survey, “48 percent of online teens believe that the internet has improved their relationships with friends; the more frequently they use the internet, the more strongly they voice this belief.  Interestingly, 61 percent feel that time online does not take away from time spent with friends.” In agreement with my own ethnographic research, participants who communicated and used the internet more actually felt closer to their existing friends because they were able to communicate regularly, and keep tabs on them even without direct and instant communication by means of social networking sites.  Through my own observations it was clear that a teen could be actively engaged in a conversation with their peers, in a face-to-face situation, while chatting online and using the internet, presumably “facebooking.”  It seemed as though the 'facebookers' were not more distant from one another, but they had developed a way of merging their online world, with the 'real' world, so that they could actively participate in both adequately. Because doing things such as sharing discovered videos with one another, and using Facebook or MySpace have become such a large part of sociability in youth culture, it can be understood that the use of the internet is not taking away from, or diminishing relationships, but rather, adolescents have made adaptations and are constructing new social norms that reflect the heightened role of digital media in their lives.

    Returning to Wilson and Peterson's observation that the internet's development has led to “online interactions of dispersed groups of people with shared interests,” there is no doubt that all Digital Natives using a social networking site have a common interest.  After studying online communities, doing ethnographic field work on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, danah boyd (her spelling) has suggested that the “teen years are marked by an interest in building new connections and socializing broadly.”   With many teens sharing an interest in socializing and building connections, searching for ways to make and maintain connections with their friends, it is no surprise that Digital Natives turn to online communities such as social networking sites.  A social networking site, like Facebook or MySpace, is a site that “connects communities of people in order to enable the flow of information among users after creating profiles and adding “friends” or other users.  Friending users “lays the groundwork for building a friendship.  the practice of Friending not only acknowledges a connection, but does so in a public manner,” and in turn once making a wider range of connections, a teen has more opportunities to observe and learn about social norms from their peers.  My informants use Facebook for enhanced communication with their peers (to keep in touch and to strengthen or publicize existing friendships), and for social comparison. According to a Pew report in early 2007, 55% of youth aged twelve to seventeen use these sites, mostly to reinforce existing relationships.” danah would agree that children spend so much time on sites such as Facebook or MySpace in order to reinforce existing relationships, but add that they do so “partly because they are marginalized in their society by adults.”  Social networking is an accepted alternative because “teens do not have as much access to physical space as they once did because they are over-scheduled, or are dependent on adults to drive them places, or their parents are afraid for their safety, or their friends can't go out. Online is more easy and accessible, even when they're stuck at home.”  The appeal to these sites is not the technology itself, but rather the presence of the Digital Native's peers.  Because of these constraints on time and transportation, social networking sites are providing Digital Natives with an opportunity to casually connect with their friends and acquaintances by browsing the profiles and status updates, gathering information to “keep tabs” on their peers without direct communication.  As supported by my own ethnographic research on the Facebook community, as teenagers learn to use these social networking sites, and online communication tools, they also develop a sense of etiquette as well as strategies for managing complexities and socially awkward situations which aids in their adolescent and social development.  In my research on Facebook culture I found that contrary to the popular opinion that digital media is facilitating a Digital Native's interactions with strangers, the vast majority of the people I talked to use this media to communicate with existing friends that they met in school, their jobs, sports teams, churches and summer camps.  Also supported by my ethnographic research on Facebook, Greenfield and Subrahmanyam also found that when Digital Natives are using social networking sites to keep in contact with their peers from their offline lives, they are using it both to make plans with friends whom they see often and to keep in touch with friends whom they rarely see.

    Through blogs, social networking sites, online discussion groups and instant messaging, teens are spending a lot of time on the computer using social media.  Still, 53 percent of Digital Natives (aged 13-18) still say that the number one way they like to spend time with their friends is in person. It is because they are so social, and so committed to staying connected that they spend the rest of their time using digital media to let their friends know what has been going on.  Sure, many of them still prefer to communicate with these modern communication tools for certain kinds of interactions, but that doesn't mean that they are losing either their interest in face-to-face communication or their social skills.  Sure, under many circumstances, Digital Natives will use the internet to communicate, but that doesn't mean they are losing social skills, “after all, expressing one's feelings in writing was a standard practice of the nineteenth century.”  The Digital Natives have a sense of logic for everything they do, and before the adults in our society attempt to criticize the Digital Native culture, they must strive to understand the native's rationale.  Digital Natives are aware of the perceived limitations and detrimental effects of the internet, but they also know that they are an extremely social and connected generation and will therefore continue to strive to maintain constant communication and to constantly continue to extend and strengthen their web of connections.

    Since the inception of the internet into daily life, there has been constant questioning as to whether there has been some sort of change in our inability or ability to act personally.  While research methods seem limited due to the fact that for accurate conclusions, multi-tasking would need to be dealt with and a study on the relationships between family and friends needed to have been done before the internet was such an evident part of Digital Native culture, the research that has been done suggests that overall there is a higher level of connectedness amongst Digital Natives.  Adults, especially parents, find their children's' Digital Native culture bewildering and threatening to existing social and family norms.  The internet is not only providing teens with increased access to information, but has introduced a new way for Digital Natives to extend and intensify their web of connections with friends, family and, in certain cases, strangers, as the use of the internet by means of participation in online communities, instant messaging and social networking sites, has become key to the broadening of their social relations.  In certain instances, the transformation into the digital age as well as these improved connections and interactions may happen at the expense of face-to-face communication, but ultimately the enhancement of peer group relations for Digital Natives as a result of digital media cannot be discredited as it is very clear that Digital Natives have a much larger web of connections.
  • Targeted Killings: A Contradictory Approach to the 'War on Terror' - Sarah Whalen '06

    In 2006, one of the most prominent issues facing the many nations of the world is terrorism.  Although this is no new concept, the threat to the national security of the United States has increased over the past few years and has become more immediate, as the effects have now reached close to home for the American people.  After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in which terrorists hijacked planes and killed approximately 3,000 innocent Americans in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, set out to retaliate for the devastating actions.  The question that ensues, therefore, is how to respond to this violence.  One tactic used by Israel to deal with neighboring Palestinian terrorist groups is targeted killings.  As a close ally, “Americans…look to Israel for lessons in counterterrorism,” as Israel has had quite the experience with terrorism, specifically with airline hijackings and suicide bombings.  Since this event, the government of the United States has changed its mind about the practice of targeted killings and has quietly begun to employ them in its “war on terror”.  Targeted killings are “used by governments to eliminate individuals they view as a threat;” the intelligence and military officials of a country work together to plot an assassination.  Information on these killings is extremely confidential, and the Bush Administration has offered limited knowledge to the public, withholding numbers and names of most attempts, allowing little public debate.   However, from the information available, it is clear that the United States’ use of targeted killing is an unwise decision in terms of its own foreign and domestic policy.  It not only is contradictory of American values, but violates international law and has been frowned upon by the worldwide community.   
    However, thus far this has not stopped its use or changed its legality within American domestic law.  Although previously banned, assassination can be ordered by the executive branch from the powers delegated to the President by Congress. Even though permitted under U.S. law, the negative effects hinder the progression in the fight against hatred and violence that the world is currently facing in the twenty- first century. 
                
    The use of targeted killing of major members of terrorists groups by the United States government is an immoral policy.  The main problem with these attacks is that they are not always precise; in the past, they have caused the death of many innocent people.  The attacks must be carried out in a rapid manner with only limited intelligence citing the whereabouts of the target, which is difficult to obtain and can be unreliable.  The location of the United States in relation to the targets is the major cause of this inaccuracy.  Therefore, it is hard to maintain one-hundred percent accuracy in killing only the intended terrorist and the collateral damage of the attacks usually affects innocent people.  For example, in January of 2006, the United States tried to kill Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Pakistan, at a meeting with fellow extremists.  An unmanned Predator aircraft was sent to execute him, when things went awry.  Apparently, he was not present at the location.  Instead, eighteen civilians, including many women and children were killed, sparking many protests throughout Pakistan.  The process of targeted killings is not guaranteed, and although ultimate precision is the goal, it is not always possible.
                
    Even if collateral damage does not occur, targeted killings still violate international human rights laws.  In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in Article 3, it states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”  This document has the specific goal, as stated in the preamble, to promote good relations between nations.  While it is true that during declared armed conflict, this guarantee of life for soldiers is no longer valid, the current “war on terrorism” is not an actual time of war.  Firstly, it is not possible to declare war against a terrorist organization.  Furthermore, even during armed conflict “willfull killings” are not legal; therefore, lethal force is not a valid action.   President Bush’s statements then, that Bin Laden is “wanted, dead or alive”, are prohibited as it is considered an extrajudicial killing.  The Fourth Geneva Convention states that “extrajudicial killings constitute ‘grave breaches’ and are subject to international jurisdiction.”  When a government suspects criminal behavior by an individual, “that government is obligated to capture and try the person” and “the government must present its evidence under a transparent process of inquiry.”   

    There is a clear contradiction in the logic of using this method to halt terrorism; it is simply, “If terrorism is condemned because it kills the innocent, how can one justify counterterrorism tactics that kill them too?”  The U.S. simply can not justify a policy in which they commit the same wrongful act that they wish to stop.  If the same act was committed on U.S. soil, killing eighteen of its own citizens, Americans, including the government, would be outraged.  Committing these assassinations opens up this policy to rest of the world, putting the citizens and leaders of the U.S. at risk.  Hypothetically, it is then possible for Cuba to define exiles living in Miami as terrorists, and arrange for assassinations to take place on U.S. soil.  Hence, the U.S. should be wary of committing these acts, as it will be nearly impossible to condemn them in the future if other countries decide to act similarly.  As exemplified by this situation, the United States often takes advantage of its position as the world’s foremost superpower to act in a manner most convenient. 
                
    Terrorism is often a response in hatred for the United States, the big “bully” imposing its own un-Islamic institutions and ideas on other countries, particularly in the Middle East.  Osama bin Laden, the head of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, who claims responsibility for September 11, has warned the U.S. that further attacks will occur.  He proclaimed in a speech that “every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.”  Specifically attacking members of Al-Qaeda will then clearly be an attack on bin Laden’s security and subject the safety of Americans to future devastating attacks.  Terrorist groups will most likely retaliate for a death of one of its leaders.   

    As Israel has had a history with this action, it is helpful to look their assassinations as well.  In a targeted killing by Israel of a senior leader of Hamas, Salah Shehada, in 2002, in which he was killed, along with 14 innocent people, Hamas promised revenge.  Agitated, Hamas claimed that the Jews will “see their own body parts in every restaurant, every park, and every street.”   During similar events in Palestine by Israelis in the 1980s, a Palestinian security official boldly stated, “whoever sign[s] off on killing a leader among Hamas…should turn the page and sign off on killing sixteen Israelis.”  Not only will the top members of these organizations grow more furious at the United States and plan more attacks, but more people will join forces with the terrorists.  Killing a top member of a terrorist group often may “create martyrs that help a group sell itself to its own community.”   People living in rural, underdeveloped countries may only see this destruction and death the United States is causing and wish to join the opposition.  Although supporters of targeted killings argue that getting rid of a top leader will disrupt the plans and organization of the terrorist group, even with the current masterminds gone, new supporters will inevitably join, and not only that, but their locations will be unknown, and therefore possibly even a more dangerous threat.  Creating more terrorists in the world will not fix the underlying issue the government is looking to solve in the “war on terror”.  Retaliating with use of more violence will “escalate the costs of the conflict, cause greater and more lasting embitterment, and preclude nonmilitary solutions.”    By creating more support to the cause, main objective of the “war on terror” will be far from solved, and the war between the United States and the terrorists will continue.  In addition, any peace talks will be halted if continuous responses of violence are sought.  In the same manner, the U.S. will not have success in the future if they seek to reach out to Middle Eastern countries with their valued ideas; “by undermining international humanitarian law, it squanders moral authority and the capacity to persuade and influence others.”  
                
    Targeted killings face major legal scrutiny on the international level.  International law is an “informal, unwritten body of rules” that binds the conduct of the nations universally.  When an issue is at hand, all the countries have a choice to either support the law, or to actively express dissent.  International law, although unofficial, has value and clear power in the world today and it is in the best interest of all that it continues to be followed.  As it is the one set of guidelines that crosses all borders in the attempt to achieve the common values of the entire population, the United States, as a super power, should lead the way in stressing its importance.  While there is a Security Council of the United Nations and an International Court of Justice, the only real enforcement of these rules comes from the pressure of different countries on one another.  If the United States does not follow the rules itself, it loses the power to apply this pressure to others.  This means then, that not only will the United States lose its power to have an influence on others and negotiate on worldwide issues, but breaking the law will bring unwanted pressure from the other powerful nations.  If any of these rules are violated, consequences are primarily from breaches in diplomacy and scars on a country’s reputation, and can have major economic effects, all not favorable positions for any country.     

    The world has clearly showed its dislike for the use of targeted killings, claiming they are “extrajudicial killings” illegal under this law.   The worldwide community finds that human rights are not upheld, and in practice, targeted killings can be compared to the death penalty without proper due process, in which the global standards require that “suspected criminals be apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted before being punished.”   This is not to say that death is not an allowable punishment for heinous crimes, but rather a fair and constitutional court must find the suspect guilty first.  Therefore, if the United States participates in targeted killings, it will be acting in opposition to its valued allies and the majority of the international community.  In the Declaration of Independence, which contains the basic principles on which the country was founded, it is stated that the United States will act with “due regard for the opinions of other nations.”   This means that the country should act with respect to the universal law, however, “the international rules and institutions detested by neo-conservatives such as George W. Bush are more consistent with the founding principles…than the imperialist principles to which they now subscribe.”   In the past several years, following the September 11 attacks, the United States has “consciously [sought] to modify international law in accordance with its interests.”    Acting as such, however, does not only violate the true spirit of the country, but also proves to be imprudent foreign policy.  The United States relies heavily on the support of its allies.  Various terrorists have been stopped thanks to the help of foreign police forces and governments.  This cooperation and support not only in the present, but in the future, is more valuable than the life of one suspected terrorist.  As the most powerful country, the United States has the capability to change the world for the benefit not only itself, but for everyone.  However, first and foremost it is necessary that when carrying out these actions, the US should obey the requirements of war law.  In Harry Truman’s speech at the conference setting up the UN in 1945, he said, “We all have to recognize- that we must deny ourselves the licence to do always as we please.”
                
    Within the U.S., the government does not face a legal challenge when committing the targeted killings.  The United States policy on the use of this technique has changed throughout the past few decades.  In 1976, Gerald Ford issued a presidential order in which the executive branch barred itself from participating in assassination.   In 1981, Executive Order 12333 was issued, and it stated, “No person employed by or acting on behalf or the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”   However, the recent terrorist attacks sparked a new law that changed the legality of this practice.  After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Congress passed a bill which gave a broad power to the executive branch in the “Authorization for Use of Military Force”.  This law states that the “President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”  The President must receive his powers from either the Constitution or from Congress.  In this case, the Constitution gives Congress the right to “make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution…powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.”  In other words, Congress can pass laws that are necessary to ensure the government can do its job.  One of the jobs of the federal government is to protect the country and the citizens.  As commander-in-chief of the military, the executive branch seems most fit to fulfill this duty.  In this joint resolution that was passed in response to the terrorist attacks, Congress noted that “such acts render it…necessary…that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect.”  Under these conditions, the legality of the use of targeted killings within domestic law seems quite simple.  The executive branch has been given a fairly broad power to use force against terrorists, which includes killing them.  Since the government clearly finds this tactic to be useful and appropriate, although against the opinion of the majority of the world, it is able to justify the action in a legal sense through this law.   
    The use of targeted killings, while legal under the new law passed through Congress, is in opposition to the most basic values of the United States.  Americans have traditionally valued the concepts of life and liberty for all and they have often attempted to hinder the government from acting too hastily against any suspected criminals.  There is a clear emphasis on due process in the Constitution, in which suspects are “innocent until proven guilty.”  Traditionally, within the domestic realm, the government has been required to give the benefit of the doubt until proper procedure has been followed, including a fair trial.  It seems reasonable then, to assume that the United States values should extend not to just include its own people, but also foreigners.  When the Oklahoma City bombings, the largest domestic terrorist attack in the United States, occurred, the man behind the destruction, Timothy McVeigh, was given a fair trial.  Even though Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists are not citizens of the United States, the value of due process should apply to them as well.  Therefore, the use of this practice undermines the U.S.’s clear goal of “promoting democracy and civil societies.”  This policy makes the government the “prosecutor, judge, and executioner.”  Democracy is an attempt to limit the power of the leaders, not give unlimited and unchecked power to one body. 
                
    In conclusion, the recent use of targeted killings as a fight against terrorism is causing controversy in the present world.  This tactic is used more frequently by Israel, but recently the United States has initiated employing it within its own terror war.  Although legal by U.S. standards, following in the footsteps of its ally is not a wise decision.  This use of violence, which often kills innocent people, is indeed committing the same crime in which the country is attempting to fight.  This contradictory statement will not only create more terrorism and prolong the struggle, but will also cause international condemnation and loss of universal respect.  Even though the horrific events of September 11, 2001 do call for the government to become more active in domestic security, and deter any future attacks on innocent Americans, killing leaders of terrorist groups is not a reasonable answer.  Instead, the United States needs to work as hard as possible stop these attacks in other ways, for example, by peacefully arranging the arrests of the most dangerous people.  Following international law and acting morally, by fairly and justly trying these suspects, the U.S. will maintain its strong image as a superpower while cracking down on violence.    The U.S. should remember that maintaining the friendship of its allies is the most valuable tool at its disposal, and wrecking these relationships is clearly a wrong decision.  Instead, the U.S. should spend more time working on changing its international image from a bully with numerous contradictions within its policies.
  • The Right of Marriage and the Constitution - Stafford Mckay '01

    The current legal classification of marriage in this country is recognized only between a man and a woman, not between two members of the same sex. Advocates of gay and lesbian rights have been lobbying to have this fact changed for years. It is the belief of these groups and others that the United States not only has an obligation to recognize same-sex unions, but that lawmakers have not obeyed the fundamentals of the constitution and Supreme Court precedent by passing what is known as “The Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996. The damage that has already been done in Washington to the gay community is irreparable. The United States Supreme Court would have the ability to permit same-sex unions if a related case ever reached the high court. The court could base its opinion favoring recognized union in the following arguments: A) Discrimination against same-sex marriage is similar to certain state governments’ past restrictions on biracial marriage, which the United States Supreme Court found in violation of Equal Protection granted by the Fourteenth Amendment. B) The opinions of two State Supreme Court cases, Baehr v. Lewin (Hawaii), and Baker v. Vermont, clearly define the legal rights to gay marriage in each state. C) The relation of the Equal Protection Clause in each of the aforementioned states is akin to that of the United States Constitution. D) The Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV of the United States Constitution was clearly intended to protect the rights of a citizen granted by one state in every other.  In light of these arguments, the Court easily could find that the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’, an attempt by Congress to stop legal recognition of same-sex unions is unconstitutional.

    Prior to 1996, the legal definition of ‘marriage’ was held exclusively at the state level. The gay community first called for same-sex marriages by applying for marriage licenses from individual local governments. Such requests for marriage licenses began in 1970 in the State of California and resulted in a stricter definition of marriage in that state. In 1971, the State of Minnesota encountered its first case dealing with same-sex unions. State courts denied the plaintiff’s application for marriage recognition, arguing that “the institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family is as old as the book of Genesis,” hardly a constitutional argument. The court answered the plaintiff’s argument that denying same-sex marriage rights is equal to the racial restrictions to marriage once held to this country, thus a violation of the 14th Amendment, by declaring that same-sex marriage is “abstract symmetry not demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment”. The cases that followed all ruled similarly at the state level, and all  involved citations of the 9th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Not until 1993 did a case rule in favor of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights.

    Two significant state hearings have laid the foundation for legal proof that the possibility for same-sex marriage is possible. The case of Baehr v. Lewin first proved in 1993 that it is possible for a state to recognize gay marriage. In the class-action suit brought before the State of Hawaii, a group of same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in December of 1990 through the Department of Health in the State of Hawaii. The couples complied with the Hawaii State Code completely in their request, except for the fact that the marriage recognition they were seeking was of same-sex nature. The Department of Health denied the applicants of their requested licenses for a singular violation: the couples were all of the same sex. The Department of Health was acting under the rules prescribed by the state by denying the licenses, but the plaintiffs believed that the regulations held by the state violated the Hawaii constitution. The plaintiffs filed a complaint to the Department of Health illustrating the suffering they were facing and demanded declaratory and injunctive relief. The Department of Health (director Lewin) responded to the complaint, stating that the department’s actions were in complete accordance to Hawaii law. Lewin sought judicial support to reinforce his statement. The circuit court concurred with Lewin and the plaintiff appealed to the State Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court did not agree with the plaintiffs’ argument that the right to privacy as granted in that state’s constitution includes a “fundamental right to same-sex marriage”. However, more importantly, the court agreed with the “applicant couples claim that the express terms of HRS s 572-1, which discriminates against same-sex marriages, violate their rights under the equal protection clause of the Hawaii Constitution.” The court stated that the lower court had: 
    Erred when it concluded, as a matter of law, that: (1) homosexuals do not constitute a ‘suspect class’ for purposes of equal protection analysis…(2) the classification created by HRS s 572-1 is not subject to ‘strict scrutiny,’ but must satisfy only the ‘rational relationship’ test; and (3) HRS s 572-1 satisfies the rational relation test because the legislature ‘obviously designed [it] to promote the general welfare interests of the community by sanctioning traditional man-woman family units and procreation’.

    The opinion continued by stating that “marriage is a state-conferred legal status, the existence of which gives rise to rights and benefits reserved exclusively to that particular relationship.” The court held that the couples should not be excluded from marriage benefits such as taxation advantages and inheritance rights. The state vacated the lower court’s affirmation of the Lewin decision and placed the burden to determine marital status (free from sex discrimination) in the hands of Lewin. Hawaii’s Supreme Court decision is sound because the state’s constitution has an equal protection clause that permitted the court to demonstrate how the applicants were being denied equal protection rights on the bases of sexual discrimination. The wording of that particular section of the document states “[n] o person shall…be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of the person’s civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex, or ancestry.” The court brings to light the unfortunate fact that the Federal Constitution does not extend as broad a definition of equal protection. The United States Constitution states only that a state may not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The fact that the United States Constitution provides such a narrow meaning of equal protection can be both an advantage and an obstacle for same-sex advocates wishing to scrutinize the established system of marriage before the Supreme Court on the federal level. An optimistic interpretation of the wording allows for the clause to be inclusive of homosexuals if determined so by a more liberal Supreme Court, a decision that would overrule past cases.
    One significant case to follow Baehr v. Lewin took place in 1999 in the State of Vermont. Similar to the facts of the Hawaii case, Baker v. Vermont involved a group of applicants wishing to apply for a marriage license in their respective local governments. The townships in which the couples applied denied them their right to marriage. The couples appealed to the State Court of Appeals, arguing that the rejection of their marriage applications violated the ‘common benefits’ clause of the state’s constitution. The case resulted in an affirmation of the township’s ruling with the following argument (as surmised by the Human Rights Campaign):
     
    …Homosexuals are not a protected class because homosexuality is not readily discernible like race,… homosexuals are not politically powerless, as evidenced by Vermont's anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation in other areas of the law, [and] Vermont's marriage laws do not discriminate on the basis of gender, either, because other laws affect men and women equally.

    The applicant couples appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court and received a favorable decision declaring that the Vermont Constitution provided for the recognition of gay unions. The ruling did not specifically answer the equal protection question at the federal or state level, leaving the question of whether homosexuals are considered a ‘suspect class’ in terms of marriage a moot point. This neglect was an issue raised Justice John A. Dooley in his concurrence to the majority opinion.
    Under the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution, which, in pertinent part, reads, That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community, (Vt. Const., ch. I, art 7) whether this ultimately takes the form of inclusion within the marriage laws themselves or a parallel ‘domestic partnership’ system or some equivalent statutory alternative rests with the Legislature. Whatever system is chosen, however, must conform with the constitutional imperative to afford all Vermonters the common benefit, protection, and security of the law. Same-sex advocates must use the Hawaii and Vermont decisions and apply them to the entire country by turning to the ‘Full Faith and Credit Clause’. Article IV of The United States Constitution calls for ‘full faith and credit’ in every state towards the ‘public Acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State’. This statement alone demonstrates that the freedom for two members of the same sex to marry in Hawaii and Vermont must be applicable and recognized by every other state in the country. The full faith and credit clause intended to ensure that every state recognizes the decisions made by other state courts and legislatures. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer made the following statement regarding a pending limitation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause: “it would be a ‘terrible practical mess’ if state courts were free to ignore the judgments of other state courts and issue their own counter judgments.” The ‘Full Faith and Credit Clause should be applicable if the Supreme Court were to ever hear a case involving a gay marriage license request because the recognition of same-sex unions in Vermont and Hawaii provide for State benefits, a right that should be valid in all states based on Article IV.
    Despite the aforementioned legal precedent and constitutional arguments, the United States Congress passed “The Defense of Marriage Act” in 1996. The law is a clear violation of the constitution of the United States. The bill was designed with the intent to dismantle gay marriage rights on a federal level. The language of the bill is as follows:
     
    No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship… In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
     
    Lawmakers are deliberately ignoring Article IV of the Constitution by stating that one state does not have an obligation to uphold the married legal status granted to a couple by another state. As part of a congressional hearing that was intended for consideration of the bill, Elizabeth Birch., director of the Human Rights Campaign testified. She made the following key arguments against the bill:
     
    1. “At no time has marriage been defined by federal law. ‘Without exception, domestic relations has been a matter of state, not federal, concern and control since the founding of the Republic.’ Aukenbrandt v Richards…(1992)…”
    2. “There is no plain meaning of the first sentence of the Full Faith and Credit clause that would allow Congress to conclude it has the authority to limit full faith and credit or provide definitional, substantive guidance to the states…There is no support for the proposed legislation in the second clause.”
    3. “The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution states that powers not enumerated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states.”
     
    The arguments made by Birch clearly demonstrate how the 104th Congress committed an  oversight of United States law. An educated guess as to why opposition to the bill has been minimal may be related to the fact that congress has maintained a conservative majority since the implication of the bill. The existent opposition groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and The Lambda Legal Group are possibly waiting for a congress with a more liberal outlook. Despite a lack of strong opposition, the bill is yet to be declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court has the ability to recognize same-sex unions with the abovementioned arguments and legal facts. Throughout the history of the United States, the right for two people to marry has been extended to allow every citizen such right in a system where at one time it was illegal for members of opposite races to marry. The government’s declaration that marriage between two persons of the same sex cannot be legally recognized is highly reminiscent of the time when interracial marriage was illegal in this country. The groundbreaking advancements reached when the Supreme Court reversed a Virginia ruling that an African American and a Caucasian were forbidden to marry in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia) only attest that the future may be optimistic for the marriage seeking members of the gay community.