Watch your words

December 3, 2011

Shivanjali Sewak

As teenagers we tend to speak without filtering our thoughts, and it’s not uncommon to hear expletives or derogatory remarks every so often. We know that these words are bad, and yet we still use them daily. Have you ever thought, though, about how your words impact others? We throw words around as if they’re nothing, and more often than not, we don’t realize how hurtful they are.

Take the phrase “that’s/you’re so gay.” From what I’ve noticed, most people use this phrase as a way of saying something or someone is lame, stupid, or generally disliked. What I never understood, however, is why people use “gay rather than simply saying “stupid” or “dumb.” Even though it may not seem like it to you, “that’s so gay” is a hurtful homophobic remark that affects LGBT students. ThinkB4YouSpeak.com, a campaign started by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), says that 84% of LGBT students have been verbally harassed at school and a shocking 61% of LGBT students feel unsafe at their school because of their sexual orientation.

Another phrase I hear often is, “that’s/you’re so retarded. The definition of retarded in the New Oxford American Dictionary is someone “less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one’s age.” Multiple definitions given by Urban Dictionary, however, say that retarded is “something or someone that is stupid or dumb,” similar to their definition of gay. Why is it that “stupid” and “retarded” seem to be interchangeable in today’s society? People who have disabilities are anything but dumb, and it’s very insensitive to associate disabled people with stupidity.

I’m not suggesting that you are a bad person if you’ve used either of these terms. This is merely meant to remind you to be mindful of what you say, because words can and do hurt others, whether it’s intentional or not.

Downloading music: Right or wrong?

November 29, 2011

Karina Yap

People everywhere in the world have loved music since the beginning of time. Recently, however, the way we get it has changed drastically.

Back when there were no computers and phones, people could only rely on the radio to listen to their favorite songs. If they wanted to obtain these songs, they had to buy CD’s or even tapes. Today our generation has programs like iTunes and Amazon, so music is much easier to acquire. Even so, iTunes and Amazon have become less popular nowadays due to the ability to download music online for free from file sharing websites such as MediaFire and 4Shared. You may be saving money by downloading free music, but is it right to do so?

Although it is looked down upon to own copyrighted music without purchasing it, I believe that music should be available to everyone without a cost. Putting a cost on music is like making listening to music a privilege. Artists mainly create songs in order to share their talent with the rest of the world, so people should be able to take part in the entertainment without restrictions. However, artists also record tracks in order to make profit. I’m not against downloading free music but if I really like a certain album or song, I’ll actually purchase it in efforts to support my favorite singers.

I asked my close friends their opinions on this topic. Unlike myself, my friend Gio Cruz opposed free downloads: “I’m against it because it is bad for the artist. They make no money that way.” On the other hand, another friend of mine, Navjeet Phull, says “I think downloading music for free is cool since music artists don’t really get all the money anyways. Besides, there would be no way for them to stop people getting free music.” People will always have their own opinion, but like Navjeet said, there is really no way to stop people from getting what they want.

Beauty over brains

Beauty over brains

Charles Bloom illustration of a smart girl hiding symbols of her intelligence in hopes of appearing more attractive. The Kansas City Star 2007. (MCT Campus)

October 20, 2011

Karina Yap

For many centuries women have used fashion as a means of expressing personality. Clothing is always changing and becoming more unique. However, sometimes the messages that fashion sends are downright offensive. A few months ago there was a controversial outbreak over a shirt from J.C. Penney that said I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me. Judging from the font and decoration of the shirt, it looked like it was marketed towards 10 year old girls or even younger. I’ve seen other shirts with similar messages such as Allergic to Algebra and My best subjects: boys, shopping, music, dancing.

The shirt may grab the attentions of young girls, but the message is completely degrading. How is it right to send a message out to girls that the only important thing about women is their looks? The belief that appearances are everything is a virus that has quickly spread through girls’ minds, and the issue has only been exacerbated by the media. We should be encouraging girls that they can be both smart and pretty and that looks aren’t everything that matter. It’s no wonder that shirts with these degrading messages are quickly discontinued from sales.

One of my best friends from elementary and junior high school was exceptionally smart, but her downfall was that she chose to hide it. She played dumb because she didn’t want to seem different from our mutual friends, and she thought intelligence would affect her popularity. I remember her telling me in 8th grade that she could have been the valedictorian of our class, and I knew that she wasn’t because she didn’t bother trying in school since she was so caught up with her image. Looking back, I wish I had told her that intelligence is a beautiful thing to be flaunted.