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Censorship vs. Comedy

in Arts & Entertainment/Opinions/Editorials by
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    Louis C.K staring, Courtesy of the Nerdwriter1 “Louis C.K. Is A Moral Detective”

On his Saturday Night Live monologue on May 16, 2015, stand-up comic Louis C.K. took a different route: rather than talking about how much he loves hosting the show, or telling simple jokes and leaving the stage, C.K. decided to challenge his audience with a series of what his critics called “offensive” or “sensitive topics” that should not be made fun of. This is not the first time this has happened before; comedians like Daniel Tosh, Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais have made jokes that certain people thought weren’t funny because of the topics they covered.

So what did C.K. say that was offensive? Throughout the monologue he made fun of racism; he compared his children’s fighting to the war currently happening in the middle east between Israel and Palestine, two topics that his critics, a group of talk show hosts of The Talk on CBS, did not touch upon. When he spoke of pedophilia (child molesters) that is when they thought he crossed the line, and although it can be a topic that is hard to talk about, Louis C.K. started talking about it toward the end of his monologue and one could feel the laughter go down the more he discussed it. He made fun of the act of molesting, and made fun of child molesters themselves, but never once did he make fun of the victims.

This monologue, and its aftermath, raised a specific question on censorship: is it necessary? The main arguments of Sara Gilbert, one of the critics who disliked C.K.’s comments, was that “a victim could’ve been watching.” If he were censored by the network, no one would’ve gotten angry. Jerry Seinfeld, another comedian, stated this on censorship: “they [speaking of people who are offended by jokes] just wanna use these words – ‘that’s racist,’ ‘that’s sexist,’ ‘that’s prejudiced’ – they don’t even know what they’re talking about.”

Comedians are the most affected by forced censorship. For example, whenever they have a show to do on college campuses, some of them have to go through their jokes and make changes dictated by the colleges, because they don’t want to offend any students. According to Evan Puschak, a writer and producer of an educational channel on Youtube called  Nerdwriter1, “clearly Louis C.K.’s intention in that joke is to use comedy to get us to think about society’s attitude and treatment of pedophilia. Perhaps, he intimates, that we revile this demographic too blindly, taking solace in our normalcy when we know that the complexities of sexuality mean that the urge of pedophilia is not something chosen.” C.K. was trying to poke fun at society’s way of dealing with things that we see as abnormal; never does he state pedophilia shouldn’t be punished. He is still part of that same society that sees it as abnormal, but just like with Seinfeld, audiences do not understand what they’re talking about when they deem certain things to be offensive.

Rather than get offended at jokes, people should see the intent behind the jokes before jumping to conclusions because it might be an observation and lesson that can teach us more about the society we live in.

Zoos gone wild

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  On the 15th of April this year,  Zookeeper Stacey Konwiser  was attacked and killed by a male Malayan tiger at the local Palm Beach Zoo. According to the Sun Sentinel website, “Five minutes before Konwiser was scheduled to do a tiger show at Palm Beach Zoo, maintenance workers heard what sounded like a scream. The tiger, with his ears pinned back, was within inches of Konwiser’s body, guarding her like prey.” This instance of a captive animal attacking his zookeeper is not the first and it certainly will not be the last.

  Zoos in recent years have been subjected to scrutiny as more and more animal activists are speaking for the animals. The activists groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been working to shut down zoos, circuses, and aquariums for the wrongful treatment of animals. They claim that the animals, while taken care of in all physical aspects, are under extreme mental distress, causing them to act out in violent ways. Ringling Brothers, the popular circus which dominated the country for over a century, recently removed elephants for their acts and set up a sanctuary for the elephants to live out their lives in peace. More and more, zoos and other industries with captive animals veering away from profiting off of mental anguish of animals.

   While zoos promote conservation and breed endangered animals, like the Malayan Tigers at the Palm Beach Zoo, it seems they have begun to focus more on the profits gained. The PETA website states “Most animals in zoos are not endangered, and while confining animals to zoos keeps them alive, it does nothing to protect wild populations and their habitats.” Zoos seek out profits at the expense of the animals. These animals often resort to pacing, bar-biting, and head bobbing to cope with the stress of captivity.

  It could be argued that zoos allow urban children to experience nature and provide education about conservation locally, however at what cost to the animal’s well being. There is no way to domesticate these wild animals like elephants and tigers. They are not dogs and cats. While originally created with good intentions for preservation and education, zoos have become outdated as more information is revealed about the mental health of captive animals. Zoos and other parks with animals profit at the expense of the animals and the Palm Beach Zoo is just one of the many who are paying the price for it.

Malayan tiger from the Palm Beach Zoo Photo Courtesy of the Palm Beach Zoo website
Malayan tiger from the Palm Beach Zoo
Photo Courtesy of the Palm Beach Zoo website

Seniors find out the price of graduating

in Campus Life/Opinions/Editorials by

 

Photo courtesy of the Odyssey online website
Photo courtesy of the Odyssey online website

With the luxury of going to public school, it is often misunderstood that everything in the public education system is free. However, as students approach their senior year, the price of being a student becomes more evident.

  SATs, college applications fees, and cap and gowns are just a few of the necessary expenses students anticipating graduation must pay, not to mention the price of prom, grad bash, and yearbooks, which are additional costs to make their last year as a student memorable. These fees add up quickly, especially for students who rely on the public school to provide what is necessary to succeed.

  Hidden fees in the application process come as a shock to many seniors. Colleges require official SAT scores, and the College Board, the company that distributes the SAT and AP exams, charges twelve dollars for each report to an individual college as well as the fifteen dollar charge that ACT requires to send their scores out. This, along with the price to send transcripts to out-of-state schools and the fee to apply to any college, quickly add up. “It [the price] hasn’t gone up in my opinion. It’s just expensive being a senior,” said Kelly Bruce, guidance counselor.

  Then, of course, comes the traditional rites of passage for seniors, including up to 150 dollars for grad bash, an additional 60 for prom tickets (not to mention the price of dresses, suit rental, etc.) and another 70 to 100 for yearbooks. “It seems like every time I finish paying for one thing, there’s three more. Especially as a senior, worrying about paying for college, all the extra little costs add up quickly” said Isabeau Cordes, senior.

   Being a senior, even in a public school, comes with a price. However, there is a way to ease the burden. Atlantic offers the Suits for Seniors program, which provides students with free suits for prom and future job interviews. Last year, prom dresses were donated and exchanged for the girls. If students qualify for free and reduced lunch, they also qualify for a fee waiver for SATs and college application fees.

  There are ways to avoid paying the heavy fee of being a senior. Atlantic works hard to make sure every student has the opportunity to apply for college and make a memorable year without breaking the bank.

  

Letter from the Editor: Censorship hurts the truth

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Note: As this is a topic that I am personally invested in, I will bypass my usual third person journalistic writing, and instead design this article as a first person, open letter to the readers.

  Censorship is a journalist’s worst enemy. In all honesty, it could be seen as everyone’s worst enemy. Freedom of speech is a basic constitutional right, yet it is often infringed. Personally, I neither agree with censorship nor enjoy it, but I can understand why it is necessary at times. There are cases in which censoring a person can limit any controversies or issues within a group of people, or it can even paint a person in a negative light. This could be the main reason that censorship occurs within the school.

  The administration, in the past, has, restricted some of the things that The Squall has written and published (no instance of this has occurred this year); when the newspaper puts out its issues or inserts articles on the website, we try to minimize the amount of subjects that could be potentially censored by being wary of what we are writing. We also ensure that we are not insulting or disparaging the school. There will always be instances where what we say is limited, and it is something that some journalists have come to accept. I’m not complaining, as I completely understand and respect the administration’s decisions. The last thing that I want to do is disrespect the school. Atlantic is an exemplary academic institution that is just looking out for the wellbeing of its students.

  Having said that, I need to say that I am against the general idea of censorship. It restricts our rights and it can be especially insulting to journalists as purveyors of truth and news. At one point, we have all experienced some form of censorship: everyone has seen a television show or heard a song on the radio in which a word is removed because it is a form of profanity. Now obviously, this is done to protect people from unnecessarily vulgar language. However, there are more extreme cases of censorship within the country.

  A few years ago during the Arab Spring, CNN reporters investigated the events in Bahrain, endangering themselves to gather clips of what was happening. When these reporters returned to the United States, CNN did not put the information that they acquired on the air. Instead, they falsified information. Amber Lyon, the most famous of these reporters, was not allowed to discuss Bahrain on the air and was censored about the topic until she was finally fired. Censorship, like in this example, does not allow journalists to do their job and discuss the actual events that take place, and in certain cases, can be harmful.

  Jared Goodman, the Editor-in-Chief of the Galleon, Spanish River Community High School’s award-winning publication, feels similarity about the topic of censorship. “I am against censorship. I don’t really see the point of even having the newspaper if there is a prevalence of intense censorship. My goal is not to speak poorly of the school or student life, but simply to report facts-whether they are positive or negative,” said Goodman.

  I understand that in certain cases, there are rules to be followed, but censorship is a global crisis, not just one limited to the American media. Around the world, people’s rights are being restricted when they are censored. Freedom of speech is a constitutional liberty, one that should be universal.

Stephens-Miller exemplifies relevant teaching.

in Campus Life/Opinions/Editorials by
Stacy Stephens-Miller smiling. photo taken by Gerard Kassi
Stacy Stephens-Miller smiling. photo taken by Gerard Kassi

Upon seeing the latest news on the television, it can be hard for minorities not to feel marginalized. From political figures singling out certain types of people to police officers targeting specific race groups, there seems to be no end to this racial and cultural unrest. It seems as if the days of Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful teaching are long gone. Educators like Stacy Stephens-Miller , however, reminds her students of great activists such as King Jr., Malcolm “X”, and Rosa Parks – activists who did not let current circumstances affect the way they saw the future, Hopeful.

With Stephen-Miller being awarded Atlantic’s “Teacher Of The Month” for September, it was an opportunity to get to know more than just her name. When asked “why teach African American History?” Stephens-Miller said, “It is relevant to gain respect for African-Americans through history. Students should value and take pride in the history of African-Americans.”

She was also asked if the things occurring in the country at the moment impacted the way she taught her students. “It does not necessarily affect the way I teach, but it certainly reinforces the need to teach African American History in Schools” said Stephens-Miller.

Stevenson Altemar, a former student of hers, noted that her enthusiasm and energy sparked the desire for knowledge within her students. Her will to help students understand the minimal details is what makes her an outstanding educator.

Winning millions: Is betting on fantasy football gambling?

in Opinions/Editorials/Sports by
Photo courtesy of Bryce Rosen and the ESPN Fantasy Sports App
Photo courtesy of Bryce Rosen and the ESPN Fantasy Sports App

   Fantasy football is one of the most well-known aspects of football. The basic goal of fantasy football is to draft NFL players to form a starting lineup, which is then used to compete against people based on how the players perform. Some argue whether fantasy football is a form of gambling, especially with the creation of daily fantasy sports, such as DraftKings or FanDuel.

   According to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a federal law, fantasy football is not actually gambling. Yet, people continue to dispute this, stating that fantasy football is just another way for people to bet money online; they claim that this should be unlawful, but websites have discovered ways around the terminology of the Act.

   In response to that, others say that fantasy football is and should remain completely legal. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association said “fantasy sports leagues are games of skill.”

   It does not break the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act as, in fantasy football, people need to take numerous factors into account. “A manager must know more than simple depth charts and statistics to win; they also must to take into account injuries, coaching styles, weather patterns, prospects, home and away statistics, and many other pieces of information in order to be a successful fantasy sports manager,” said the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. This is more than a person will think about when they gamble, which is the main argument supporting fantasy sports’ legality.

   Some students refute this. “I think playing fantasy football is gambling because you are betting money to win a competition, which is gambling,” Michael Cuthbertson, senior, said. “For daily fantasy websites, such as DraftKings or FanDuel, you are paying money for a real player and are using that player to get money for yourself…Last season, DeAndre Hopkins, the wide receiver for the Houston Texans…said that people are making money using his name in a gambling competition so he should get some of the money.”

   Although the main debate has been created as a result of the popularity of daily fantasy sports and its “win money now” philosophy, it still applies to regular fantasy football, especially when money is often used as a part of a wager for the league. Any new federal decision on the legality of fantasy football has yet to be made, however.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Screenplay

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Photo courtesy of title peek.fsc.follett.com
Photo courtesy of title peek.fsc.follett.com

   John Tiffany and Jack Thorne’s play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, based off J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, was welcomed with open arms by the generation of adults that grew up with the characters of the series.

   The script, originally released on July 31st, has revived the wave of Millennials who refer to the Harry Potter series as their childhood.  The play made its world premiere on July 30 in London’s West End. But has the script carried on the legacy of Harry, Hermione, and Ron and, more importantly, can it live up to the expectations of their fans?

   Skeptical at first,  as the Harry Potter world was now being described by other writers besides Rowling, the script seemed to have a completely different voice than that of Rowling’s. However, with a different writer and format, this is expected.  The characters initially seemed detached from the former selves that Rowling characterized so well; each one has his or her own complex backstory which is reflected in each’s personality. Perhaps it is the format of the play that causes this change of tone in characters, and once performed, perhaps the characters will gain their full personality back rather than the static characters that appear in the book.

   After overcoming this, the reader can see the more humorous side of the characters, including the original sarcastic tone Rowling set in the previous books. Ron, Hermione, and Harry banter with Draco, and jokes are more straightforward, lacking the cleverness that was present in previous Harry Potter pieces.   

   Harry and Draco’s children, Albus and Scorpius, also added humorous aspects, as well as some sentiment, as the readers watch their friendship bloom. Aspects of their friendship deeply reflect Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s. At one point it is even said “your weakness is the same as your father’s: friendship” (Thorne, 230). Of course, as the previous stories often did, the script contains its serious undertones about friendship, loyalty, love, and trust.

   Albus, Harry’s youngest child, battles with good versus evil, much like his father did. These are the similarities  that allow the reader to slowly discover that the “cursed child” Albus believes he is, is not so different than young Harry. The final act of the play truly reveals the deep similarities between Harry and his youngest son, as well as reflects on Harry’s own parentage.

   The play has been met with mixed reviews. “I like how it show [sic] how Harry, though he was strong in other books, it shows how he was messed up about it and how he treats his son because of it.” Jordan Rosen, senior, said.

   However, not everyone enjoyed the play. “It was good, but I like the series more.” Brody Smith, freshman, said.

   “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” continues the Harry Potter saga with an attempt to replicate the charm of Rowling’s last pieces, however falls short when capturing the true magic of Harry Potter’s world that amazed book lovers for the past two decades.

Letter From The Editor: Dealing with Work

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   The school year just started a few weeks ago, but students may still be having trouble with getting in the right mindset, especially with the “Senioritis” phenomenon that some say they experience. The most important thing when in school is actually being able to handle all the work and assignments.

   Stress is a significant problem in schools nationwide; I know that in high school, we all have a lot of tests and assignments, in addition to the college applications, standardized exams, and possible jobs. It can be extremely difficult, and is an important responsibility, one that can cause intense stress among students. According to USA Today, “Teens’ average stress level was 5.8 out of 10 during the school year.” This is an epidemic, and some students suffer harshly, experiencing panic attacks and other harsh symptoms of stress, like insomnia, headaches, and even growing agitated and angry.

   Learning how to cope with this stress and stopping it from occurring is significant in numerous aspects of life, not just school. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some possible ways to try and deal with stress is to “get plenty of sleep” and “take a break.” Others say that relaxing by doing enjoyable activities can reduce stress. A calming nap could be a perfect way to reduce stress.

   Some may cast aside the idea of handling stress and anxiety, but in the end, it is vital, since in college and at work, there will be situations that could be even more stressful than now. Dealing with this not only can help students become calmer and healthier, but it can also allow for personal growth.

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