Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Final Questions

What did you get out of this class?

AP Gov A has taught me that I CAN be good at social sciences. I have always really struggled in remembering facts about history and civics; for some reason it has just never clicked with me. But this class has helped me change that trait. I am now confident in myself that if I read the chapters, review them, and most importantly, apply them to my own life and think of my own examples, I will have no trouble remembering the facts and being able to do well.

What advice would you give next year's seniors?

I would advise your next senior class to make sure to ask questions. I sometimes get intimidated when everyone else in the class seems to know what's going on and I don't, but simply saying "I don't understand" or asking you (Mr. Christensen) to explain a concept is the most helpful way to learn. Also, I have a great way of remembering the Bill of Rights that you can share with your classes!

1. RAPPS--Freedom of Religion, Assembly, Petition, the Press, and Speech
2. You have 2 arms--The right to bear arms!
3. 3 is a crowd--you don't have to quarter soldiers
4. Search 4 something--search and seizure
5. "I plea the fifth"--Due process and Habeas Corpus
6. "S" is for speedy--the right to a quick trial!
7. A 7 looks like an upside-down "J"--the right to a jury!
8. An 8 looks like a pair of hand cuffs--bail, cruel and unusual punishment
9. Nine, those rights are mine--rights that aren't specifically in the Bill of Rights, but that you still have
10. Ten, the states have zen (because they have their own rights)--states' rights

Thank you so much for everything Mr. Christensen!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3-2-1: Eyewitness Testimony

3 Discoveries:
1). A woman was raped in her off campus apartment when she was in college and studied the face of her rapist, but gave a testimony that it was someone that it was not during trial, sending an innocent man to prison for 11 years.

2). The innocent man, Robert Cotton, heard about DNA during the OJ Simpson trial and told his lawyer to check the rape kit for DNA, which eventually proved his innocence.

3). Studies show that when the actual suspect is not presented in the lineup, the victim will choose the person who looks most like the suspect, believing that one of them HAS to be the suspect.

2 Connections:
1). I have learned about this in our memory unit in AP Psychology, that eyewitness memories are never true or accurate, which is why asking "What happened?" to the witness of some kind of accident or event is pointless.

2). I watched the same video with the man putting the bomb down the airshaft in Psychology class and also picked one of the men that was not in the line up, learning about the tricks of memory.


1 Question:
How had nobody checked the DNA of the rape kit before Cotton demanded it? Wouldn't somebody else have thought of that and prevented him from spending 11 years in prison?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Court Cases and Gay Rights: Perry vs. Brown

Name: Perry vs. Brown

Location: Federal

Year: 2012

Facts of the case: The plaintiffs in this case were a lesbian couple named Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier. They sued the state of California because Proposition 8 had been passed. They said Proposition 8 was unconstitutional because it restricted marriage to heterosexual couples. In this case, the federal appeals court found that Proposition 8 discriminated against same-sex couples because it had no other purpose except to "lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite sex couples."

Decision: The court basically found that the constitution doesn't allow for "laws of this sort." The court dismissed the arguments in support of the proposition about having children, and focused on the constitutional issue which was that the proposition's only purpose was to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Appeals: This case was appealed to the Supreme Court which agreed to consider the appeal, which just happened last month. Other similar cases are going to be heard by the US Supreme Court and we do not know which one will be heard first.

Monday, March 4, 2013

3-2-1: The Justice Nobody Knows

3 Discoveries:

1). Clarence Thomas' grandfather, who raised him throughout most of his childhood, was an active member of the NAACP.

2). Thomas grew up in the Jim Crowe South, where he went to an all-black school and spent his time at Carnegie Library, which was all black at the time.

3). Thomas originally wanted to be a priest, but questioned this when he learned the values of the Church and saw its non-aggressive commitment to civil rights.

2 Connections:

1). Thomas was a member of the Black Student's Union, which we have learned about as a club at SI that is now AAAS.

2). Thomas said "I was never a liberal. I was a radical, I was negative, but I was never liberal, that was too lukewarm for me." I can relate to this because I sometimes think that you have to be aggressive and not see everything very positively in order to change it and have passion for the issue.

1 Question:

I'd like to know the top three issues in civil rights that Clarence Thomas was most passionate about working with when he decided to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tim Wise: "I've Been White for 44 Years"

Tonight's event at the SI Commons, a powerful speech from Tim Wise followed by a question and answer session, was unlike anything I have heard before, especially on the issue of racism. Tim Wise is a white American male who has a deep and profound passion for getting everyone to understand racism. Something that really made me think was when he spoke about how avoiding a subject does nothing to help it go away, such as how avoiding talking about world hunger is not going to suddenly feed starving people and how the same applies to racism. Though he says talking about race is "not fun," and that both white people and people of color don't like talking about racism in front of each other, the truth is that "we would be a lot better off to just have the conversation." Wise also talked about the stereotypes that our society has today and how they negatively affect us. He gave examples from tests that were run where when two opposite groups were placed in a two rooms together (white people and black people, Asian people and white people, old people and young people, etc.), one room was told that their test results did not matter and one was told that it did. The room that was told that it didn't matter gave nearly equal results between the opposite groups, but the people that were told that it did matter were placed under stress and then conformed to what their stereotypes told them, such as that black people are more athletic or that Asian people are better at math or that young people have better memories. In general, Tim Wise told several stories and had fascinating insights on why racism exists today and how it is acted upon. His words were extremely thought-provoking and should certainly be heard by those who are oblivious to the problem of racism today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bureaucracies & Gay Rights

One bureaucracy I found that has oversight over the issue of gay rights is the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The mission of this bureaucracy is to "lead the U.S. efforts to promote democracy, protect human rights and international religious freedom, and advance labor rights globally," as stated on their website. This bureau has three key principles that they work by. These are learning the truth and stating the facts in all human rights investigations, taking consistent positions concerning past, present, and future abuses, and maintaining partnerships with organizations, governments, and institutions committed to human rights. This bureaucracy works to protect the rights of humans of all sexual orientations by making sure that they are treated fairly and justly in their everyday lives and at work.

A second bureaucracy that has oversight over my issue is the American Civil Liberties Union. This organization focuses on several key issues, one of them being LGBT Rights. Their project, called the LGBT Project, "works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity." The goal of this group is to protect and defend members of the LGBT community who are being treated unjustly and need support. They even have a way to report witnessed LGBT discrimination on their website. This organization can help protect and defend members of the LGBT community who are being mistreated through the eyes and ears of the average American.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"All The President's Men": Fact Check

In researching the 1976 film All the President's Men that we watched in class this week on the Washington Post's account of the story, I learned that the real name of "Deep Throat," the FBI official who gave Woodward information on the burglary investigation that was top secret, is Mark Felt. Felt's name was not revealed until 2005, which was 33 years after the historical investigation. I also found that in November of 1972, all the other newspapers except for the Post ignored the story and gave Nixon a huge majority, while the White House criticized the Post's story as being biased and misleading. I did not remember seeing that that was done in the film. I also was not aware that in 1973, four of Nixon's top aides lost their jobs, including the man Haldeman that was an essential part of the film.

According to Bob Woodward's website, he is regarded as one of America’s preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction authors. He has worked for the Washington Post as a reporter since 1971, as portrayed in the film, and is currently an associate editor. His and Bernstein's work in the year 1972 was described by the New York Times as "maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time." Woodward has authored or coauthored 16 books in the last 36 years. All the President's Men, which was made into a movie from the original novel written by Woodward and Bernstein, is cited as the best movie about the practice of journalism by many.

Unlike Woodward, who remains at the Washington Post today, Carl Bernstein left the Post at the end of 1976, and was hired as ABC News' Washington bureau chief in 1979. He later became a senior correspondent for ABC News, but left the station in 1984. He then worked on another book alongside Bob Woodward, and published his first solo book in 1989. He became a writer for Time magazine the next year, but has written for many different news sources since. He currently works as a reporter for Newsweek and an author. In 2007, he published a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Overall the film All the President's Men was a very historically accurate depiction of the investigation of 1972 that changed history, and the two authors that created the story are living successfully today because of it.