What Not to Go (For Halloween)

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Warning: This post shows content that may or may not be safe for viewing, especially in front of young children. Some images may be guaranteed to offend racial, ethnic, and religious groups as well. Viewing discretion is advised.

Of course Halloween is around the corner which is a time for spooky decorations, pumpkin carving, ghost stories, trick or treating, parties, scary movies, and tick tacking houses. Another thing people like to for Halloween is dress up into costumes either for a party or trick or treating. Some are reserved for kids, others for adults. Still, there could be some controversy on a person’s choice in costume or how inappropriate it is. However, there are certain things for Halloween that no one should go out as regardless of age, gender, demographic, or whatever. Whatever you do, don’t go as these for Halloween.

1. Nudist

Pro: This is perhaps the easiest costume to make and the cheapest costume to buy since it doesn’t really require much of anything. Just go as you are in your birthday suit. It’s as simple as that.

Con: However, to dress up as a nudist for Halloween is perhaps one of the worst ideas. For one, you will be arrested for indecent exposure if you’re going out anywhere since public nudity is against the law. Also, there’s a good chance that you’ll offend everyone with your nakedness so much that they’ll probably call the police on you. If you’re at home, expect to frighten the trick or treaters and their parents when you emerge from your door out in the buff and they’ll never stop at your house again. If your kid’s a nudist, expect him or her to get no candy and be subject to severe criticism on how bad a parent you are. Then there’s the fact you’ll be shivering whenever you go outside.

Verdict: For God’s sake, make sure your Halloween costume is one that includes clothes. No one wants to see your private parts. Perhaps one of the worst costume ideas ever. Streaker isn’t a good idea either.

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2. A Black Person (for people who aren’t black)

Pro: Well, this might be difficult to say since I really can’t think of any pros without sounding too racist or offensive.

Con: It’s one of the most offensive costume ideas since it requires the use of blackface, especially in the United States. Not only that, but you run the risk of projecting a derogatory stereotype. You may think that dressing up as a black person  may be a way to show esteem or mock them, it’s not. Rather it’s extremely insulting to a whole demographic and one of the most anti-black things you can do. If you show up in blackface in a predominantly black neighborhood, expect to never get out of there alive. I’d say the same to those who go around wearing an Obama mask since they’re no better. Look, it’s okay not to like Obama but it’s not okay to dress up as him to mock him, especially if you’re not black for you may run a tendency of insulting almost every black person in town.

Verdict: Unless you’re a black person, don’t go as a black person. And if you don’t like Obama, go as Joe Biden instead. I know it’s no fun to be politically correct and Obama’s the president but still, it’s a terrible idea that will warrant you sensitivity training. Actually don’t go as anything that projects a derogatory racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype.

3. Feminine Hygiene Products

Pro: Well, they may be easy to make and can be made pretty cheaply. Also, you’ll be a hit with the ladies at the Halloween party.

Con: Oh, did I say hit with the ladies? I actually mean hit by the ladies. Not to mention, dressing up as a bleeding tampon or napkin is just so disgusting as well as offensive to women. Look, none of us ladies would ever consider dressing up as one of our feminine hygiene products. That goes the same with female sex organs. All dressing up in these Halloween costumes is going to do is give us ladies an impression that you’re a total douche who deserves to be slapped in the face. I understand you guys go as condoms, semen, and male sex organs and though they’re as offensive as they may be, at least they’re costumes of your respective gender. However, how would you men feel if we women went out as a condom, semen, or penis? I don’t think you’d like that.

Verdict: Oh, fucking hell, no! Just, no please. I don’t care who you are just no. Also, eeeew.

4. Pedophile Priest

Pro: Well, easy to make and cheap. Other than that, I can’t find anything.

Con: As a Roman Catholic, this is probably a costume that that is guaranteed to personally offend me since the priestly child sex abuse cases just put a stain on the Roman Catholic Church (though child molestation is just as prevalent in any organization). Not to mention, this costume is guaranteed to get a person kicked out at a Catholic school, college, church, or hospital. Look, this probably the easiest costume to offend about a billion people with regardless of church attendance and religiosity. Not to mention, you never know where you’re going to meet someone who’s Catholic. You may even know someone who’s Catholic, maybe not particularly devout but still, once a Catholic always a Catholic right? Heck, any depiction of pedophilia in Halloween is just as offensive and shouldn’t be mocked at. I mean how would it feel if you saw a costume like pedophile minister, pedophile rabbi, or Jerry Sandusky? I rest my case.

Verdict: Congratulations, you just got a billion people praying the rosary in hopes that you’ll be sent to hell. Hope you find it warm down there when you die. Oh, and I see that all those sweet nuns did a number on you and tied you to a pole. And there’s the local priest encouraging the little children to throw rocks at you. Hope you’re happy and I just don’t feel sorry for you. Should’ve gone as sexy priest instead.

5. Klu Klux Klansman

Pro: Well, easy and cheap to make. Also, more creative than a ghost.

Con: Strictly put, this costume is blatantly racist and offensive to blacks since the KKK is a terrorist organization and hate group notorious for lynching and intimidating blacks in the South. It was even revived with the release of Birth of a Nation, perhaps the most racist film to date. I don’t care if you’re going as one for laughs, you’ll be seen as an angry white supremacist wherever you go. In a black neighborhood, you might as well just pick up those white robes and run like hell because chances are, you will be lynched.

Verdict: Don’t go as a Klansman under any circumstances. You will never see the light of day with this costume on, you virulently white supremacist bastard. Hope you get killed by your own burning cross.

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6. Nazi

Pro: Well, they seem to have the nicer uniforms in all those World War II movies.

Con: You know Prince Harry got in a lot of trouble for wearing one, right? Also, you know that the Nazis were responsible for making Germany a totalitarian dictatorship, starting a world war, committing mass genocide that included 6-9 million Jews. That costume is sure going to make you look very anti-Semitic.

Verdict: Unless you’re doing a production of The Producers in which you sing, “Springtime for Hitler,” don’t go as this, period. On second thought, just don’t even if you do play a Nazi in your professional life or are just in WW2 reenactments. I mean you never know where you’ll meet a Jew or somebody whose grandma survived the Holocaust. And I’m sure a Holocaust survivor is certainly going to have plenty of ideas of what to do if you if yo happen to just don that Nazi uniform. Plus, wearing a Nazi uniform is certainly going to get you arrested in Germany since the Germans practically banned anything associated with Nazism. Same goes for Hitler.

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7. Muslim Terrorist

Pro: Might be a way to show off your creative talents and doesn’t cost much to make.

Con: It’s one of the most offensive Halloween costumes out there, especially in a post-911 world. Muslims already have a hard time in this country after all the shit they’ve been through like being racially profiled and stereotyped as terrorists. This kind of stereotyping has been very detrimental for Muslims living in America who also died on 9/11, fought in our wars, lived in our country as law-abiding citizens, and supported our country through thick and thin. And it still sparks controversy if a group of Muslims want to build a mosque in a community so they can practice their faith in this country as they please. Besides, Islam isn’t as much a violent religion as Christianity, historically speaking and most Muslims are just regular people who live their own lives. Nor does it encourage anti-Western or anti-American ideology as  a matter of fact.

Verdict: Almost nothing can inspire jihadist action among Muslims than seeing a person in the West wearing that highly offensive costume. Might inspire real hatred for your country if an Islamist terrorists sees you in that. And you don’t want to be an inspiration for terrorism right?

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8. Sexy Kids Show Character

Pro: It’s a nice way to look cute at a Halloween Party and pay homage to your favorite character from your childhood.

Con: Actually makes that particular kids show character be suitable for a pornographic film. Not to mention, many of these sexy kids show costumes are marketed toward women which is also part of a disturbing trend of making women’s costumes seem sexy. Can I just go as regular Elmo? Really? Besides, most of the sexy Sesame Street costumes are those that feature male characters like Bert an Ernie. Yes, there’s a sexy Bert and Ernie costume. Not to mention, those kind of costumes might kill a child’s innocence.

Verdict: Making kids show characters as sexy costumes is just plain, well, wrong. There are some costumes that shouldn’t be made sexy and I think kids show characters should be one of them. Besides, no one wants to see a sexy Cookie Monster. That little 3-year-old may not see Elmo in the same way again.

9. Depraved Sex Maniac

Pro: There are so many ways to get creative with this costume, with many of the results being hilarious. There are just so many variations of this costume.

Con: Dressing up as a depraved sex maniac is not only an unsuitable costume to greet trick or treaters in, but also very offensive even in front of mature audiences depending on the material. Perhaps the only occasion I can ever find this kind of costume being appropriate in is an adults-only Halloween party, especially if its venue is a frat house. Still, would you want people to post pictures of you in such a costume on Facebook? Think about it.

Verdict: Would you want to be known as the guy who dressed up as a man banging a sheep? I wouldn’t think so. I mean they post pictures of that on the internet, you know. Besides, you don’t want to be in that kind of costume when trick or treaters come to your house. I mean think of the children and parents.

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10. Asian Doll (for Non-Asians)

Pro: These are fairly popular among non-Asian women. Not to mention, Asian women are said to be rather desirable.

Con: The  reason I put for Non-Asians is that no self-respecting Asian woman would want to wear one (maybe geisha but I’m not so sure). For one, these are sexy costumes which is kind of sexist toward women. Second, the take-out costume is just begging for gross jokes about “eating out.” Not to mention, it’s a stereotype of an Americanized version of what “Chinese” is. Also, the hyper-sexualization of this costume feeds into the all to prominent stereotypes of Asian women. Yikes!

Verdict: Actually, any sexy ethnic girl costumes shouldn’t be worn on Halloween, period. They’re offensive regardless of nationality.

11. Geisha Girl (also for Non-Asians)

Pro: Hmmm, this is a challenging one. I wonder if it’s because of Memoirs of a Geisha having something to do with it. Maybe it’s just a symbol of Japanese decadence or the female equivalent of the samurai costume.

Con: For one, in many circles geishas are considered high-end prostitutes, which is a cause for concern. Second, a geisha girl is a racist and sexual stereotype thrust upon Asian women which paints them as submissive, doll-like, and existing only to sexually gratify others. In turn this harms many Asian women since many non-Asians tend to defend geisha girls on a pedestal even though it’s considered a fossilized archetype in modern day Japan. So nostalgia’s probably not always a good thing.

Verdict: This costume has a lot of grey area depending on the variation but still, many Japanese women can get offended by that regardless of costume scheme. Still, I think I’d suggest maybe you go as Murisaki Shikibu, one of the world’s earliest known women writers and perhaps the world’s first novelist. Of course, The Tale of Genji isn’t one that’s necessarily suitable for children but people still read it. Yet, at least she’s a better Japanese female figure than a geisha girl. At least many Japanese women would be impressed if you know who Murisaki Shikibu was. In fact, dress up as any famous Japanese woman even it’s Yoko Ono. Also, a character from anime and manga is a viable option.

12. Anything with an Erection

Pro: Can make a boring costume hilarious.

Con: Not suited for younger children and the erection might depend on the kind of costume. If you’re dressing as a Viagra salesman, then it’s uniquely appropriate (though I don’t know why you’d want to dress as a Viagra salesman). If you’re dressing up as like a prisoner, teacher, or priest, then it’s deeply offensive. Also, most of the time having an erection in your costume makes other girls think you’re too dumb to have a creative costume idea.

Verdict: Can’t you come up with some original costume idea that doesn’t involve any form of crude frat boy jokes? Seriously, guys, sometimes you’re just too obsessed with your sex organs.

13. Abortion Themed Costumes

Pro: This might help get the pro-choice and pro-life sides agreeing with something.

Con: Actually you’ll get them to agreeing that your costume is inherently offensive since abortion is such a serious issue and isn’t an issue you want to address on Halloween. This will certainly result in you getting attack in some way or another like a pipe bomb stuffed down your pipe or acid thrown in your face type.

Verdict: Just stay away from doing an abortion themed costume. Just stay away if you don’t want a gang of torches and pitchforks going after you. Abortion is absolutely not the kind of topic people should joke about. It’s a deadly serious issue and I’ll just leave it at that.

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14. Catastrophe Victims or Disasters

Pro: This might be a tough one.

Con: Obviously, these costumes revolve around moments of great tragedy and heartbreak that it goes without saying that they would be highly inappropriate for a Halloween costume. I mean all these costumes are going to illustrate is how an insensitive jerk you are.

Verdict: Please don’t wear these costumes, whatever you do. Otherwise, I hope you receive a well-deserving slap or punch in the face. Insensitive jerk, indeed.

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15. Indian Princess

Pro: You might be able to wear this costume on Thanksgiving which would especially help if you’re an elementary school teacher supposing if the costume is decent enough.

Con: The sexy version of this costume is highly offensive especially if it’s know as a “seductive squaw.” The term “squaw” is a very derogatory name for an Indian woman which the First Nations certainly won’t take too kindly. A sexy Pocahontas costume would be even worse since she was about 12 at the time when she saved John Smith and sexualizing pre-adolescents is never a good idea. Also, a political incorrect depiction might be deemed fairly offensive. I mean this costume has the potential to offend American Indians at different levels. Actually most Native American costumes do.

Verdict: This costume is probably most likely better left for children to wear since adults who wear this to work will probably receive a certain amount of sensitivity training (or just be fired). Actually almost any Native American costume can fit into this even in a mascot capacity (sorry, Redskins fans). Still, I’d stay away from this costume if I were you.

16. Poop

Pro: May be and cheap to make. As to any explanation why anyone would do this costume, I don’t have the slightest idea.

Con: For one, this is a disgusting and poor taste idea for a costume that seems to be thought up at the last minute. Second, it might make many people at the party think you’re No. 2 (and not the first runner-up kind either). Third, I’m sure you’re not going to pick up any chicks with that kind of costumes.

Verdict: Seriously, you went as that for Halloween? Honestly, you have to go as that. Some things should never be costume ideas, plain and simple. Also, eeeeew.

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17. Jesus Christ

Pro: Well, what better costume for a CCD or Sunday School Halloween party than dressing up as the Prince of Peace?

Con: Except that he’s a religious figure, which is always controversial no matter what the depiction. Secondly, there are also certain Christian groups who don’t celebrate Halloween based on false claims that it promotes things like paganism, witchcraft, sin, and devil worship. I mean the holiday basically offends them to this degree already so dressing up like Jesus is certainly going to piss them off and somewhat confirm their beliefs about the holiday when they see you twerking on the dance floor or making out with a witch in a car.

Verdict: Only dressing as Muhammad would be worse since you’re not even allowed to depict a picture of him.

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18. Pimps and Ho’s

Pro: Well, its a good excuse to get dolled out and slutty.

Con: Some costumes may have some people mistake you for the real thing and God help you if those are the police pr a serial killer. Also, they are highly inappropriate and tend to somewhat glamorize certain folks who aren’t just committing illegal acts (at least in the US) but also don’t live nice lives (prostitutes are always highly susceptible to violent crimes during their work hours). Not to mention, pimps aren’t nice people (I mean they’re sex traffickers) as well as the kind who should never be idolized in rap lyrics. Not only that, but not all pimps dress like that (some of them just dress in plain normal clothes in order to get girls into the business). And another thing, wearing either has the potential to offend African Americans who are said to be frequent depictions of either.

Verdict: If you watched what happened to Kramer when he tried to get to the pink Cadillac. Take it as a word of caution. Also, you might have the potential to be mistaken for a stripper.

19. Recently Deceased Public Figures

Pro: Chances are people will recognize who you’re dressed up for Halloween since their death has been on the news.

Con: It’s perhaps way too soon since the person who died may still have friends and family in mourning, especially if they died under untimely and tragic circumstances. You might want to wait a year, or fifty.

Verdict: Perhaps you should stick to celebrities who are either still alive or been dead for at least a decade.

20. Santa Claus

Pro: If your seasonal job is being Santa at the mall, this might be pretty convenient.

Con: Some is little kid is going to wonder why Santa answered the door to your house on Halloween during trick or treating. I mean Santa Claus is very closely tied to Christmas and that’s only a couple months away. Also, might kind of remind people what’s coming up next commercialwise so they don’t want to see anyone in a Santa suit until after Thanksgiving.

Verdict: As a holiday mascot, you might want to avoid dressing up like Santa to avoid confusion or anger.

Conclusion:

Of course, there are plenty more costume ideas you shouldn’t try on Halloween and I’ll just leave you at that.

For intentionally offensive costumes:

http://www.holytaco.com/25-intentionally-offensive-halloween-costumes/

Here’s a satiric article on politically incorrect costumes:

http://www.dribbleglass.com/subpages/costumes.htm

Here’s some more offensive costumes:

http://happyplace.someecards.com/11102/the-most-inappropriate-halloween-costumes-of-all-time

Here’s some costumes gone horribly wrong:

http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/24-embarrassing-homemade-halloween-costumes

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Historical Villains Who May Not Have Been That Bad

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History is meant to teach us about the past since people are bound to repeat it. However, history has a tendency to be rather subjective since it was written so many years ago so it’s not without bias since people aren’t perfect. Not to mention, history has a tendency to be written by the victors as well as be adapted to certain dramatic media that may not have much account for facts or cares more for entertainment. As a result, some historical villains may end up with undeserved reputations or may seem to be worse than they actually were. So here I have a list of those whose reputation as a villain was based on accounts that were heavily biased or exaggerated. However, this doesn’t include bad guys who deserve their reputation even though they did great things, except in special cases or people considered a hero in one culture but villain in another.

1. King Richard III

You know him as: The villain protagonist in Shakespeare’s Richard III who locks the two princes in the Tower and later kills them just to get the throne of England, drowns his brother in a vat of wine, killed Anne Neville’s father and first husband, and poisoned his wife. He’s also said to be a hunchback and have a limp arm as well as a creepy old man.

Why he may not have been that bad: This is perhaps the most famous case of history being written by the victors since Shakespeare wrote about Richard III during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I whose grandfather defeated the guy at the Battle of Bosworth Field that ended the Wars of the Roses. Not to mention, Richard III was the last ruler of a royal dynasty and it’s almost always the last ruler of a royal dynasty is stuck with the bad historical reputation (Queen Elizabeth I is an exception since she had arranged James VI of Scotland to succeed which made the transition of power rather peaceful, ruled for over 40 years, helped England on its way to becoming a world power, and was called “The Virgin Queen” even after her death). Oh, and there’s the fact he seized power from his own nephews (who were children but still). Still, though Richard III may have been a ruthless ruler but he not much unlike most rulers of his day, especially during the Wars of the Roses. As for taking the throne, yes, he probably did put the Princes in the Tower but we really don’t know what happened to them. However, Richard III just simply had them declared illegitimate on account that their dad was engaged to another woman before he ended up marrying their mom, which was perfectly legal at the time. He also had their sisters and his other brother’s kids declared illegitimate as well and he didn’t do anything with them. Besides, when Richard took the throne, he was already running the country as regent for a child king and England already had two child kings who didn’t turn out that great so many probably would’ve preferred to see an adult on the throne anyway. Not to mention, Henry VII would’ve done the same thing. Still, Richard III probably didn’t betray his older brother Edward, murder any family members, didn’t kill Anne Neville’s father and first husband or forced her to marry him nor poisoned her, and wasn’t as deformed as portrayed even though he had a mild case of scoliosis. And he certainly wasn’t a creepy old man for he died at only 32.

2. Macbeth

You know him as: The villain protagonist in Macbeth whose wife berates him into killing King Duncan after it’s imminent that he will become king of Scotland. Yet, once he does kill Duncan and becomes king him and his wife not only become driven mad with guilt but also he starts a killing spree of his own before he’s killed by a guy who was born via c-section.

Why he may not have been that bad: Believe it or not, Macbeth was a real king of Scotland but he’s nothing like the guy in that Shakespeare play that bears his name. Not to mention, Shakespeare wrote him like to appeal to King James I who was a descendent of King Duncan. And Shakespeare couldn’t depict Duncan as the weak, ineffective, and/or tyrannical ruler he really was which was tantamount to treason in 1606. Also, this was to echo King James I’s belief in the notion of the Divine Right of Kings (despite his succession in England being prearranged). The only thing the play gets right is that  Macbeth killed Duncan, became king of Scotland, and was later killed in battle. However, the real story was that Macbeth killed King Duncan after defeating him in battle who was encroaching on his lands. Though he was eventually killed  in battle himself by the future King Malcolm III, by that time he had ruled Scotland successfully for 17 years as well as known for his charity toward the poor and had even visited Rome during that time. So Macbeth was probably a good king. Not to mention, Malcolm III was even gracious enough to have the guy’s stepson succeed him. Sure Macbeth was an usurper but he wasn’t much of a tyrant. As for Lady Macbeth, we don’t know much about her except she was real, she had at least one child from a previous marriage, and her name was Gruoch (though how much of a role she did have in Macbeth killing Duncan might be debated.)

3. King George III

You know him as: If you’re from the United States, he’s the tyrannical king who raised all those taxes after the French and Indian War that got the colonists rattled up into declaring independence and raging the American Revolution.

Why he may not have been that bad: King George III was actually said to be a decent king who had absolutely nothing to do with those policies that brought on the American Revolution since he was a constitutional monarch who wasn’t really running the country. It was Parliament who saw no problem with instilling taxes without the colonists’ consent and was unwilling to see their American counterparts as equals. George was just a convenient scapegoat who the colonists can blame these policies on since he was head of state as well as the fact that news didn’t travel so fast in those days. I mean the colonists may know that Parliament was running the country but they probably didn’t have any idea who the prime minister was but they certainly knew who was the king. Besides, he very interest in politics. Not to mention, there’s a city in North Carolina named after his wife, Queen Charlotte. In England, George III is remembered as one of the best members of the Hanoverian Dynasty as well as grandfather to Queen Victoria and the king who went nuts near he end of his life (probably senility or dementia).

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4. The Spanish Inquisition and Co.

You know them as: The fanatical religious hit squad that tries and burns people at the stake for heresy, witchcraft, and anything else that challenges the status quo or goes against the Catholic Church. Real frothing at the mouth types and agents of persecution you know.

Why they may not have been that bad: Sure the Inquisition may have been a tool of oppression but they weren’t really living in more enlightened times where it wasn’t unusual for secular governments to persecute people either, especially during the Reformation. I mean until very recent times, there wasn’t really such thing as freedom of speech or religion while torture was considered a standard method of interrogation until the 18th century. Every system of authority tortured people at the time of the Inquisition whether it be a king or a local sheriff. The Spanish Inquisition preferred a psychological method of torture by imprisoning people without letting them know who denounced them and the charges against them until the actual trial. Not to mention, heretics weren’t really much enlightened folks either since there many of them who aren’t much different than radical anarchists. And Protestants also had their own system of persecution of heretics that included other Protestants of different sects and Catholics alike. Still, the Catholic Church may have used the Inquisition to root out heresies in Europe, but they didn’t really execute or harshly torture anyone because clergymen were forbidden to shed blood and usually turned their convicts to the secular authorities to execute them (even though they could still confess and repent before sentence was carried out via auto de fe). As with witchcraft, the Inquisition just saw it as superstitious nonsense and since the 7th century the Catholic Church explicitly forbade belief in witchcraft and persecution of people accused of it and merely investigated witchcraft cases to relieve the witchcraft hysteria. Still, witchcraft was considered a crime under secular law, accused witches were more likely to be executed under the Protestants since the witch craze was more of a Protestant thing, and that the Spanish Inquisition actually ended witch burning in Spain a whole century before the witch-hunts began to wane in the rest of Europe. They also held that allegations of witchcraft be backed by solid evidence and if you were accused as a witch in a case that involved the Inquisition, your chances of surviving the accusation were pretty good. And in some ways, the Inquisition was more progressive for it’s time since it introduced the legal concept of presumption of innocence, had inquisitors provide the accused with legal counsel, considered confession without factual corroboration an unfit grounds for sentence, and was forbidden to accept accusations from ex-convicts or people who could benefit from the sentence. Secular courts at the time observed none of that. Also, most of what we hear about the Inquisition came from Elizabethan Era writings that basically greatly exaggerated them and not all Inquisitions were religiously motivated either. For instance, the Spanish Inquisition was more of a state ministry started by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to convert the Moors and Jews, reform the Church, punish heretics, and correct superstitions. But mostly the Inquisition was more or less after heretics and didn’t have as many killed as many would think. By our standards the Inquisition may only seem like notorious villains in history but by the context of the day, not so much, especially given the events of the day.

5. Cardinal Richelieu

You know him as: One of the villains in the Alexandre Dumas story The Three Musketeers and subsequent adaptations. Said to be pretty devious guy. Has awesome red robes and a cool mustache to boot.

Why he may not have been that bad: Cardinal Richelieu actually ran France while King Louis XIII was still a child and even though he was a devious man, is considered one of the greatest statesman of France who helped make the country a superpower later in the 17th century. There’s even a painting of him that depicts him standing proudly in armor. Dumas probably thought that shiny red robes and awesome mustache would make him a great villain. Not to mention, many of those adaptations were British and American after all and Britain was an enemy of France at the time. Ruthless leader, yes, but what kind of person in power wasn’t in the 17th century?

6. Emperor Nero

You know him as: The Roman Emperor who fiddled when Rome burned and blamed it on the Christians even though he set the city on fire deliberately to make room for a palace extension. The one who killed his mother and first two wives as well as an arrogant and insane megalomaniac who forced people to attend his performances and locked them in the auditorium so they wouldn’t leave. Saw himself as the greatest artist who ever lived. Not to mention, eventually committed suicide.

Why he may not have been that bad: Most of what is written about Nero that survives to this day was by people who personally knew and hated him (an exception would be his friend Senectus who praised him). So there’s a question of historical reliability here and some of the bad things he did might have been exaggerated. Sure he may not have been a pleasant man and he probably was a great lover in he arts yet as an emperor, he probably was not much worse than those who ruled in his day. He might have blamed the Great Fire of Rome on the Christians but he most definitely didn’t set fire to the city and when he heard the news of the fire while in Actium, rushed back to the city to oversee the relief efforts and paying out of his own pockets quite generously. As for his second wife, she might have died due to a difficult pregnancy and it’s said he had a good reason for killing his mother. Was also said to have great affinity from the common people which doesn’t really look good for the aristocratic Roman historians.

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7.  Grigory Rasputin

You know him as: The “Mad Monk” and evil sorcerer and madman who had the Russian Imperial family under his supernatural spell and took advantage of them because it was said to be able to heal the Czar’s hemophiliac son.

Why he may not have been that bad: Rasputin wasn’t an evil sorcerer and though he did enjoy great perks for his close relationship with the Royal family, he certainly didn’t have an affair with the Czar’s wife Alexandra and might have helped Czarevitch Alexei by not giving him aspirin. At worst he was probably a harmless and eccentric religious figure that many of the Russian aristocracy was jealous of him as well as a convenient scapegoat for Nicholas II’s failed policies in Russia. I mean Russia was an absolute monarchy so Nicholas II might have had the aristocrats executed if they blamed him. Rasputin was no saint but he wasn’t a monster and certainly didn’t kill the Imperial family since he was dead before the Russian Revolution ever took place.

8. Catherine de’ Medici

You know her as: The French queen who instigated the Saint Batholomew’s Day Massacre in which tens of French Protestants were killed. Said to be a “Catholic bigot” who washed  her hands in the blood of innocent Protestants. She was an admirer of Machiavelli and used The Prince as a self-help manual to ensure that her husband and sons ruled France. Hundreds of noble and wealthy Frenchmen died by her hand or otherwise. She even arranged to have her son Charles to be sexually abused by courtiers in an unsuccessful attempt to turn him gay so that he died childless and his younger brother Henry (who she adored) would become king (Charles died childless anyway).

Why she may not have been that bad: As one of the cruelest rulers of the early Renaissance, Catherine de’ Medici certainly deserves her bad reputation as a ruthless power behind the throne of France as well as an abusive mother not above using her children as political pawns. Though to be fair, she was running the country during a very unstable time such as the Reformation which put France in almost complete chaos with a significant Protestant population. Not only that but three of her sons succeeded to the French throne at a very young age so it’s pretty understandable why she’d rule through her kids. However, calling a “Catholic bigot” is a bit much for she probably wasn’t as much of one as English contemporaries make her out to be. Sure she was pro-Catholic and certainly no friend to the Huguenots, yet she wasn’t the most anti-Protestant ruler in Europe out there. Yet, she was more of a pragmatist than anything who was willing to at least try to make peace with the Protestants and was only willing to enact hard line policies against them and only out of anger and frustration because she failed to grasp the theological issues that drove the movement. Even so, she was willing to let her daughter marry one who did (who would later become Henry IV of France by the way and issue the Edict of Nantes). As for the St. Batholomew’s Day Massacre, though she probably does bear the brunt of making the whole thing an honest to goodness massacre, it’s very unlikely that she was totally responsible for it (actually most modern historians think the Guises instigated it out of fear of the marriage between Margaret of Valois and Henry of Navarre, but it was only Henri, Duke of Guise who went around placing Huguenots under his own protection and was one of the few Catholic participants to apologize for the whole affair) and was certainly more of a spur of the moment event (might have been kicked off by accident with the killing of Admiral de Coligny). However, if she was partly responsible, it had more to do with preventing a Huguenot insurrection over the death of de Coligny more or less acting on Machiavelli’s advice to kill all enemies in one blow. Still, accounts of the slaughter are pretty much a tangled mess and soon spiraled out of control of Catherine or any other leader. Also, there were even some Catholics like the Guises whose attitude against Protestants Catherine found too extreme. In turn, the Guises thought she was letting the Huguenots have it too easy. Still, though Catherine de’ Medici was the de facto leader of France, her authority was always limited by the effects of the French Civil Wars of Religion. Cruel and ruthless she certainly was but she seemed to have a good reason to be.

Antonio_Saleri_by_Natale_Schiavoni

9. Antonio Salieri

You know him as: Contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as his chief rival and discreet murderer who poisoned him while he requested the Requiem Mass, which would be the younger composer’s last. Always had a inferiority complex toward Mozart, though he did have talent. Also said to be a celibate pervert who lusted after students. This perception was popularized by Amadeus.

Why he may not have been that bad: Of course, Salieri wasn’t nearly as talented as Mozart was, he was still a fantastic composer and would later end up mentoring later composers like Ludwig von Beethoven, Franz Lizst, and Franz Schubert along with plenty of others. Heck, it could be said that Salieri’s legacy is one of the greatest in European music so he was no mediocre talent by any standards. Besides, he could listen to a music composition in his head while reading the manuscript which is quite a feat of musical ability in itself. Still, Salieri and Mozart weren’t rivals but friends and collaborators though Mozart was said to be pretty annoying that it was even remarked by Franz Joseph Haydn that he made a hundred enemies at a single party. Sure they were competitors on a professional basis but the two greatly respected each other (though they had one major dispute over The Marriage of Figaro) as well as attended each other’s operas. Salieri actively helped to bring about the premieres of several of Mozart’s later works as well as arranged concerts celebrating Mozart’s work after his death. And when Salieri was given the chance to set up a production in Vienna, of anything he wanted, he chose The Magic Flute. He even taught one of Mozart’s sons. Still, Salieri certainly didn’t kill Mozart (it was said to be an epidemic of rhuematic fever), didn’t commission the Requiem Mass (though Mozart never knew who did but we know it was Franz von Walsegg), didn’t try to sabotage his career behind the scenes, didn’t go nuts and try to kill himself, and wasn’t a celibate pervert (he had a wife). Actually, the rivalry between Salieri and Mozart was made up in the 19th century to represent the musical rivalry between Germany (well, Austria’s a separate country, but they speak German there, too) and Italy.

10. King John

You know him as: That selfish royal asshole as well as greedy and ambitious Prince John in the Robin Hood stories who has desires on becoming king and is willing to seize the English throne while his brother Richard the Lionheart was away on Crusade. Known as an incompetent and idiotic king who managed to get the whole country excommunicated, losing territory to the Welsh and the French, and was forced to sign the Magna Carta. Always put himself first and would kill anyone who’d get in his way as well as willing to betray his father and brothers on several occasions to further his goals.

Why he may not have been that bad: Sure King John wasn’t one of  England’s greatest kings but he certainly wasn’t the villain the Robin Hood legends make him out to be. However, the reason why King John is depicted as such is that he could never get away from Richard’s shadow who seemed to be the pinnacle of knightly chivalry and charismatic leader. John, on the other hand, had a nasty habit of making enemies (like the nobility who basically forced him to sign the Magna Carta, but then again, Richard the Lionheart’s constant absence sort of gave the nobles too much free rein so John’s attempts to take control again were met with hostility) and like his older brother also increased taxation to incredible levels to fund wars commanders deemed hopeless. Still, except in matters in military and public relations, John wasn’t a totally incompetent ruler and unlike his brother, actually spent most of his reign running the country. He wasn’t illiterate or stupid by all accounts and  was even known to be seen as a bookish scholar who had written many books on law as well as considered one of the premier legal minds of his age, so much so that his judgement had often been sought prior to his kingship in regards to legal disputes. He’s also recognized as the founder of the modern British navy (which is a pretty big distinction since Britain basically amassed an empire with it). Many of Richard’s disastrous peacetime and his hostage situation basically bankrupt the country so there’s probably a good reason why John would scheme to become king. And though John always put himself first and would kill anyone who’d get in his way even in his own family to further his own goals, this wasn’t an uncommon characteristic of a medieval monarch. In fact, from watching Lion in Winter, you can say his whole family was like that. King John may not have been a nice guy but he wasn’t a complete idiot who just lusted for power.

11. Emperor Caligula

You know him as: That crazy megalomaniac Roman emperor known to make his horse a consul, talking to statues, locking granaries, declaring war on Poseidon (and then “winning,” then commanding his soldiers to collect seashells as war prizes), boning his sisters (or anything else that moves), having a god complex, possibly killing his uncle, and the list goes on and on with many of these deeds making even a Third World dictator blush. And since Caligula means “Bootsie,” kneel before Bootsie, you plebeians! And he hated his nickname, reportedly.

Why he may not have been that bad: Well, there’s no mistake that he probably had megalomaniac tendencies since he and his entire family were killed by his own bodyguards (everyone but Claudius who the guards thought he was too stupid to be a danger. They fell for it. And, yes, they even beat his two-year-old daughter to death, too.) I mean how crazy do you have to be killed by your own bodyguards along with your entire family? Sure he wanted to increase his authority which made him unpopular with the Senate. However, there aren’t that many contemporary sources out there and what sources we do have about him were written about 80 years after his death during another dynasty of Emperors (who always liked to demonize their predecessor). Thus, how much of those stories are true or whether there were exaggerations is up for debate. He probably didn’t make his horse a consul or bone his sisters (though one of them served as his empress but they were both married to other people. His degree of craziness is also questioned though many agreed that he probably was a decent emperor until perhaps 6-8 months into his reign when when he was struck by a serious illness that might have resulted in brain damage and altered his personality. Yet, recent archaeology revealed he may have been a redhead. Crazy megalomaniac, absolutely but we don’t know how much.

12. Captain William Bligh

You know him as: That sadistic captain on Mutiny on the Bounty. A ruthless autocrat on his ship who subjected his men to harsh punishments that caused the deaths of at least two sailors. Soon the crew grew fed up with him and committed mutiny against him after their vacation at Tahiti staged by First Mate Fletcher Christian. However, though he managed to make home despite amazing odds, he manages just to get a slap on the wrist for it.

Why he may not have been that bad: Though Bligh might not have been the greatest captain, he certainly not the worst by 18th century Royal Navy standards. In fact, he was probably no more brutal than your average 18th century Royal Navy captain and in his time, Bligh may have been seen as fairly strict, but fair, and not as strict as he could have been. In some ways, Bligh might have been too lenient for his own good. More modern historians tend to blame the cause of the mutiny not on Bligh’s harsh disciplinary methods but on him giving the crew a nice long vacation in the tropics of Tahiti, causing them to be oversensitive to discipline. It also didn’t help that Bligh wasn’t a likeable captain who inspired loyalty and that some of the crew members began to develop relationships among the Tahitian women, including Fletcher Christian. Not to mention, there were crew members who remained loyal to Bligh after the mutiny who were in the lifeboat with him. Otherwise, he might not have been able to make it back.

458px-Marie-Antoinette,_1775_-_Musée_Antoine_Lécuyer2

13. Marie Antoinette

You know her as: The French queen who told her impoverished French subjects, “Let them eat cake” prior to the French Revolution which cost her and her husband’s heads. Sometimes seen as an airhead but other times she’s a decadent noblewoman who spends all her time and state money on partying and dresses while callously ignoring the suffering of the people. Some say she was a slut or the real power behind the throne.

Why she may have not been that bad: Marie Antoinette might not have done anything to start the French Revolution at least intentionally. Of course, her husband Louis XVI is demonized as well but he was the one who was actually governing the country at the time and was a weak and indecisive ruler. Also, he spent way more money than she did (mostly on wars like the American Revolution). And though she was spending money on dresses and her time partying, so was everyone else at Versailles so she basically had to. Yet, Marie Antoinette didn’t much care for the Versailles party scene and even had a retreat house where she could relax once in a while. But, still, France’s problems were very much in existence even before Marie Antoinette arrived in France and it’s very unlikely that she didn’t even know anything about the country’s problems because Louis XVI didn’t consult or even inform her on matters of the state so she had no influence whatsoever on his policies. Not to mention, Marie Antoinette was really a kind young woman who was unprepared for becoming queen, and tried to cope with things the best she could. She never said, “Let them eat cake” either. Still, because she was Austrian, she was a frequent target of the pamphleteers which were the tabloids of the day. Though she was certainly extravagant, she was no more extravagant than other royal family members.

14. Niccolo Machiavelli

You know him as: The author of The Prince, a book long time considered as a go-to guide for unruly despots with its endorsements of ruthlessness and amorality, which caused such a scandal. Also, it was the first political treatise and entirely secular work during the Renaissance. Ever since his name has been associated with duplicity, ruthlessness, dishonest, and other unsavory character traits. Best known for saying, “And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”

Why he may not have been that bad: First, The Prince is really not a book that advocates selling your soul for power or endorses policies of  Third World dictators, but is merely about maintaining for the good of the prince and ultimately the state and “However, it is important above all to avoid being hated.” Thus, Machiavelli wrote The Prince with its original message being about the importance of pragmatism, one of the attributes of modern politics. However, “the ends justify the means” is more of a mistranslation and something Machiavelli  would approve of. It’s more or less “one must think of the final result” or the ultimate effect the words would have on a prince’s political image. Also, he kind of advised to avoid being hated which many people tend to forget. Second, at the time he wrote the book, Italy was in a chaotic state so to keep order, a prince had to pretty much rule with an iron fist and there was plenty of competition for power. In that time a ruler had to be ruthless, nasty, and tyrannical just to get and maintain the job. Third, Machiavelli probably wrote the book in order to ingratiate himself with the Medici family who had just taken over Florence (who promptly ignored his advice since they chose to be universally loved and ended up massively in debt for it). Then there’s Machiavelli himself whose other works (that were discovered in more recent times) mostly were about supporting republican regimes with a major emphasis on freedom (though advocated using similar means to operate and maintain). Also, he was actually more of a very sociable satirist who who also happened to be and observant historian and good rhetor. He was probably more or less the Jon Stewart of his day and friends with Michelangelo.

15. Lucrezia Borgia

You know her as: The scheming, amoral poisoner who abetted her father and brother in their Machiavellian plans to dominate Europe. Her last name was a synonym in Victorian times for sadistic female poisoner. Also said to have committed incest with her father and brother.

Why she may not have been that bad: Technically, this could apply to her family since the Borgias were no more murderous than any other prominent family at the time in Renaissance Italy and mostly got a lot of flack since they were social climbers, were mentioned in
The Prince, and were Spanish. As with Pope Alexander VI, a recent biography states that there’s no evidence that he had any kids since there are no contemporaneous records of him having a wife, mistress, or children it’s unsure how he’s related to Giovanni, Caesare, and Lucrezia. Thus, it might have just have all been gossip since Savonarola criticized him on committing every sin but sexual immorality. However, I’m mostly sticking to Lucrezia since she got most of the blame even though she’s the most innocent of the bunch. She only got the bad rep by her contemporaries because she was a convenient scapegoat. Rather, there’s no evidence that she ever harmed a flea, let alone commit multiple murders. Still, she might have had it much easier if she had been a poisoner. She was more or less used as a pawn for the family to ally with powerful families through marriage, and then canceling the marriages when they weren’t useful anymore. Also, she didn’t commit incest either (for she was certainly not the mother of the mysterious baby that appeared between her two marriages) and she probably never had sex until her second marriage (though there is some speculation). However, she did have a few affairs during her third marriage but that’s just as bad as she got. Not to mention, as the respectable and accomplished Duchess of Ferrera, she managed to rise above her previous reputation and survive the fall of the Borgias following her father’s death.

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16. Cleopatra VII

You know her as: Last ruler of Egypt who was seen as a scheming femme fatale whose sins led to her death and to the destruction of Egypt as an independent nation. Known for seducing Marc Antony and Julius Caesar and killed family members like the two half-brothers she married. Killed herself via asp.

Why she may not have been that bad: Cleopatra may not have been a great beauty but she certainly wasn’t embarrassed about her looks either. She did have a bewitching voice and a strong, forceful personality. Also, she was Macedonian Greek and descendant from one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Still, though she did seduce Marc Antony and Julius Caesar, she probably saw it as a legitimate way to convince them to help restore order in a country quickly approaching lawlessness and poverty while at the same time preventing Rome from invading and enslaving the populace. Of course, she didn’t entirely succeed in the end, but neither did she entirely fail either. Oh, and the killing off family members, that was standard practice in Egyptian royalty. There are also some scholars who believe that the asp story was a cover-up and that Cleopatra was killed on the orders by Octavian. She might have been a schemer, but her aim was to keep Egypt independent and only failed because Rome was the stronger power and that Marc Antony was there who was also Octavian’s rival at the time as well as dumped his sister.

17. Queen Hatshepsut

You know her as: The wicked stepmother who stole the throne from Thutmose III and had herself crowned King of Egypt as well as ruled the country with an iron fist until her death despite her stepson being a competent adult for most of her reign and was in control of the military. Proof? After Hatshepsut’s death, Thutmose walled up all her inscriptions, tore down her statues, and obliterated her name from the histories. Also, Thutmose is said to have murdered her before becoming Egypt’s most  successful and best loved ruler.

Why she may not have been that bad: So how could a woman in ancient Egypt like 1514 BCE stage a successful palace coup while her opponent had complete control of the military? Chances are Queen Hatshepsut probably wouldn’t have lasted that long and Thutmose would’ve certainly have killed her as she done so. Yet, she was even in charge while he was an adult. Also, Hatshepsut’s obliteration from the historical records didn’t begin until twenty years after her death. Historians now think that Hatshepsut and Thutmose III were co-rulers and allies and that Thutmose III or one of his sons only began to wall up her inscriptions because even decades after her death, people saw her as a more legitimate ruler than Thutmose. Perhaps Thutmose III wasn’t ancient Egypt’s most successful and best loved ruler after all. Also, Hatshepsut more likely died of cancer than anything else.

“She’s Famous, she’s asking for it”

Look, I may have criticized Miley Cyrus for the way she was acting but it wasn’t in this kind of context, it’s just that she was acting in poor taste as far as I was concerned. My criticism had little to do with her expressing her sexuality and it’s just that she’s willing to sink to the lowest common denominator just to get attention. Whether she’s asking for criticism is up to anyone. But she’s just an immature kid as far as I’m concerned. However, I didn’t think that Robin Thicke should’ve gotten off the hook either since he’s like a 36 year old man with a wife and kid who should know better. Not to mention, I’m no fan of sexual explicit lyrics in modern pop songs either.

We Run the World! Girls! Oh Wait...

I had a bit of a heated discussion with one of my followers dealing with my critique of the discourse used to refer to Miley’s VMA performance. I think the biggest problem I had with this discussion was that my follower said “She’s famous, when she acts like that she’s asking to get criticized.”  I think this is a flawed idea. The reason she’s getting criticized in the status quo is because of the patriarchal views of how a woman should act toward her sexuality. The traditional view is a women should not be sexual in anyway; she should be virginal and pure. When young people grow up in Hollywood, you get a double standard of men acting more sexual with little to no criticism and women who are ostracized for showing their sexuality.

So let’s look at few examples of how this double standard affect the young men and…

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He’s assertive, she’s a bitch

Couldn’t agree more. Women should be as assertive as they need and say what they think now and again. I don’t care about what people think about me and I’ll be as assertive as I have to be so I can get my point across.

We Run the World! Girls! Oh Wait...

I’ve spent the weekend at a debate tournament in Atlanta, GA. I was listening to people talk about debates and someone said, “I hate those girls that are really nice before rounds and then get bitchy during the debate.” It’s statements like that the completely infuriate me, mainly because this is a huge double standard when it comes to debate and life in general I believe. Men can be aggressive in a debate and people thing they’re a good debater. If women are aggressive, she’s being a bitch. I’m going to admit something- I’m an aggressive debater, sorry not sorry.  I stand my ground and I’m not going to be pushed around in a debate. Many people think this is a negative quality in a women. In fact, many people think a woman should shut up and keep her mouth shut– if she isn’t she’s a bitch.

Let me tell…

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A Statement on Gun Violence, Gun Culture, and Gun Control

As someone who harbors progressive political views (due to my liberal Catholic upbringing no less), I rarely try to discuss politics since I live in an area where my leftist political views based on my strong Catholic moral convictions have a great potential to offend people like friends and extended family. However, in the wake of a the Navy Stockyard shooting, I cannot in due conscience keep silent on the matter of  gun violence in this nation which I see as reaching epic proportions. I understand that gun violence is a highly controversial issue in these United States and I know full well that I may be subject to nasty comments by trolls, but I’d rather risk offending people than disobey my own conscience, especially on matters of great national urgency in which my silence could be a sin since violence of any kind is a grave injustice, especially if it costs innocent lives. I may not have been personally involved in a violent in my life nor lived in an area where violence is the norm. I may not understand what it’s like to know anyone who was exposed to gun violence or had their life taken because of it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my own life hasn’t been affected by gun violence nor that I don’t have any opinions on it. Criticize me if you may but let my voice be heard.

In the United States on average about 1 in 3  know someone who has been shot while each day guns account for 32 murders, 51 suicides, 45 fatal accidents, and 140 being sent in an emergency room for a gun assault. Nearly 1 in 4 American teens has witnessed a shooting while gun violence is the second highest cause of death of American children and teens in which on an average of 8 are killed by guns per day consisting of a third of all victims. It is also the primary cause of death among African Americans from that age group which was one of the reasons the Trayvon Martin story was such a big deal in the news, especially the fact that he was shot by a white Hispanic man named George Zimmerman. While rural kids are more likely to die from a gunshot than their urban counterparts, most of them will die from gunshots caused by suicide or an unintentional shooting while urban kids will more likely die from gunshots caused by homicide, especially if they’re poor, black, or Hispanic. However, half of all gun violence victims are between 18-35 years old while many come from poor neighborhoods where gun violence is prevalent, be either black or Hispanic, or perhaps have a criminal record. Of course, most victims of gun violence are men as well as the perpetrators. And teenagers exposed to gun violence were more likely to commit more serious acts of violence themselves, especially teenage boys of color in bad neighborhoods. White males, on the other hand, are more likely to use a gun to commit suicide since they consist of 40% of all firearm suicide victims and most mass shooters tend to be young white men as well.

Every year, gun violence costs about an average of $100 billion dollars to US taxpayers including medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions of quality of life in gun violence prevalent neighborhoods due to fear, which results in economic devastation. The lifetime medical costs for all gun violence victims is said to amount to $2.3 billion with almost half of that being born on US taxpayers. From these statistics derived from the Brady Campaign it’s not hard to determine that the United States has a serious problem with gun violence, which isn’t just killing our citizens or perhaps but also ruining their lives, but also becoming a drain on our taxpayers. On an international scale, Americans are about 20 times more likely to be killed by firearms than those in any other high income industrialized nation where firearms are involved in more than two thirds of homicides according to the FBI and half of all suicides according to the CDC. And in places where gun violence is prevalent, both the victims and the perpetrators are more likely to be poor as well, which makes taxpayers more likely to cover the medical bills and legal fees. Although gun violence has decreased dramatically in the past 20 years along with other reported crimes, it’s still a major problem in this country especially in the wake of events like Aurora, Newtown, and the Navy Stockyard mass shootings.

The United States has 310 million guns and which are owned by 40% of all households, a decline since the 1960s but the number of guns has considerably increased meaning that gun ownership has become more concentrated. And by a wide margin the US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Unsurprisingly 80% of American gun owners are men since guns usually tend to have a great male following and associated with American masculinity and rugged individualism and are said to own 7.9 guns each. Of course the reasons for keeping firearms varies such as sport, hunting, sharpshooting, collections, and self-defense. And self-defense is usually the reason that most pro-gun activists argue that guns keep us safe as well as keeping and carrying one for self-defense, makes one safer as well as contributes to a polite society. However, recent statistics show that guns will only keep you safe only if you have the kind of firearms training given to someone in law enforcement or in the armed forces. Civilians gun owners, on the other hand, don’t have the kind of conditioning required to act quickly in the face of an assailant, be calm under fire in a hail of bullets, or take steady direct aim. So it’s no surprise that most of the civilians shooting an armed assailant on the news were either former cops or military veterans. The others were just lucky. Thus, unless you made your living shooting bad guys or putting dangerous people in prison, guns are probably not going to make you safe. And in one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property but a closer look at their claims found that more than half of them involved using guns in an aggressive manner such as escalating an argument. If having a gun is going to do anything for you in a situation like a mass shooting, then it’s probably going to make you either a more likely target or prone to make careless and deadly mistakes such as accidentally shooting an innocent person. Not to mention, no mass shooting in the last 30 years has ever been stopped by armed civilians. Rather in 2011, people were nearly 10 times more likely to be shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime and the odds of a person getting shot were 4.5 times greater if he or she owned a gun and had a 4.2 times greater chance of getting killed.

Though it is said that guns in the home are said to keep a place more secure, as Mother Jones reports for every gun used in self-defense in the home, there have been 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around the home. 43% of homes with guns and children have at least one unlocked firearm which can result in a deadly accident waiting to happen, especially if a kid of any age grabs hold of an unlocked gun. There have been far too many incidents where children have been killed while playing with an unlocked gun. Also, there have been so many domestic disputes that turned violent just because a gun was in the vicinity. Still, many would say they own a gun so they could protect themselves against a home invasion in which the chances of happening depend on location yet in reality, the time when someone is most likely to break into your house is when you’re on vacation since most intruders wouldn’t want to get caught. Locking your house would be a much better defense yet in the event in a home invasion, you’re better off calling the police. Still, the person who’s most likely to shoot you or break into your house isn’t going to be an intruder but by someone you know.

As for women, they were nearly 6 times more likely to be shot by their husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than by any male stranger, especially if they’re in abusive relationships and try to leave. Gun advocates often argue that guns make women safer but the scenario that usually plays in the minds is the notion of being attacked by a complete male stranger on the street or who breaks into the house. In reality, women are probably least likely to be killed or violated by a guy who breaks into their house or some random guy on the street except if they’re in a dangerous neighborhood. This is because for one, most men would never even think about harming a woman in either of these scenarios. Second, most of these dangerous guys usually have a strategy to win over their target before going ahead with their dirty work and get away with it either through manipulation or roofies. As in abusive relationships, a woman’s situation gets even more complicated since she might have feelings for her abuser or even had an abusive childhood herself. Not to mention, having a gun isn’t going to help a woman defend herself from an abusive spouse because the guy usually tries to control her and will probably end up finding the gun anyway. Still, a woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increased 7 times if he had access to a gun and two thirds of homicides involving current and ex-spouses were committed with firearms. In locations where people under restraining orders were denied weapons, female partner homicide rate decreased by 7 percent. Yet, in locations with high gun ownership rates, women were 4.9 times more likely murdered by a gun than their lower gun ownership rate counterparts.

As for the notion of an armed society being a polite society, which many gun advocates argue that having a gun makes someone less likely to mess around with you. However, in my opinion an armed society is certainly not one I’d want to live in since how can you trust anyone if everyone’s threatening you with violence? Besides, isn’t threatening people with violence not very polite in the first place? I mean it doesn’t create a good social environment either. If anything, an armed society is just an inhospitable one, especially if you don’t know what qualifies as messing with someone. Sometimes guns may be used to control others or even get away with certain things others wouldn’t normally do. Still, Mother Jones reported that drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely than unarmed drivers to make obscene gestures to other motorists and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively. And among Texans committing serious crimes, those with a concealed-handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more likely than those without.

And of course, we got those Stand Your Ground Laws, which allow people to shoot in self-defense without duty to retreat made famous by the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman who got off on justifiable homicide. It is said that such policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides, which doesn’t surprise me. Not to mention, such Stand Your Ground Laws allowed Zimmerman be acquitted for Martin’s murder even though Martin was clearly just a 17-year-old unarmed black kid minding his own business while Zimmerman was clearly an aggressor who acted out of his own assumptions that seemed to be nothing but a classic case of racial profiling. Sure Martin threatened and punched Zimmerman but the guy was following him. Even worse, Zimmerman called the police but ignored the 911 dispatch’s instructions not to follow Martin in the first place. One study confirmed a racial disparity in the law that whites have been significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black (found justifiable 17% of the time) than blacks fighting back against an attacker who is white (found justifiable just over 1% of the time). Still, the Trayvon Martin incident clearly demonstrates that Stand Your Ground Laws threaten public safety (especially in a state like Florida where a man who was arrested for battering a cop and once subject to a domestic restraining order was allowed to carry a concealed and loaded handgun), encourages vigilantism, and by tying the hands of law enforcement while depriving victims of remedies by providing blanket immunity from criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits to individuals who claim to be acting in self-defense (without thorough investigation).

So what do we do about the problem with gun violence? Well, gun advocates tend to say to place armed guards at schools so they could stop any potential school shooter like then next Adam Lanza. However, many poorer schools already have armed guards and they’re not a very inviting sight, especially in communities where it’s not unusual for minority students to be suspended frequently. Besides, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that a shooting at an ER involved guns taken away from guards in the first place. And as far as mass shootings go, Columbine was a school that had armed guards while Virginia Tech had a whole armed campus police force and we know that arming the good guys didn’t prevent the loss of life resulting from their mass shootings. Also, though most mass shootings happen at gun free zones, they also prevent a lot of other forms of violence from occurring, especially in high gun ownership states. So if arming guards doesn’t work to reduce gun violence, what does? Well, one of the more popular forms of gun control legislation is universal background checks in all gun transactions since most of these guns involved in mass shootings were obtained legally and around 40% of all legal gun sales involving private sellers don’t require one. Not only that but it’s said that 40% of prison inmates who used guns for their crimes, got them this way and an investigation found that 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn’t pass a background check. Then there’s the case with the Navy Stockyard shooter Aaron Alexis who managed to pass a background check despite having a history of mental illness and violent behavior. Not to mention, George Zimmerman whose past included an arrest for beating up a cop and being subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Neither of these guys should’ve been able to get a hold of a gun in the first place.

Another piece of gun control legislation I’d advocate which may be controversial is an assault weapons ban as well as high capacity magazines on civilians since many of these kinds of weapons were used at the shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech, and Newtown and many of these weapons were legally obtained (49 of 62 mass shootings since the 1980s involved legal weapons and half of those shootings involved the use of assault weapons with high capacity magazines). These weapons should only be used in the military for which they were made for and don’t serve much of a purpose for civilians other than perhaps defending oneself from nonexistent threats like aliens or zombies. I mean really, who needs an assault weapon? Besides, there’s not much sport in firing an assault rifle for target practice at cardboard boxes. However, whenever a mass shooting occurs, the NRA likes to promote these weapons and gun manufacturers tend to make a ton of money on them as well despite that these kinds of guns killed little children in Newtown. And while an assault weapons ban may not have much of a chance passing in Congress, about 54% percent of Americans support one while 91% support background checks. Yet, look what happened the last time gun control was introduced in the US Senate.

The NRA always asserts that in the matter of gun violence that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Sure people kill people there’s no arguing that, but the NRA often uses this mantra to assert that guns aren’t the problem in instances of gun violence which doesn’t get to matter at all. People may be the problem but so are guns, especially if they are nothing but killing machines. Also, guns are most people’s killing weapon of choice since it could be used at a great distance and doesn’t call for much exertion of physical strength. Not to mention, Alfred Hitchcock once said a gun was “such an amazingly simple device. An idiot can operate it and indeed many do.” Yet, the NRA would also argue against gun control by citing the  Second Amendment with “the right to bear arms bear arms shall not be infringed.” Of course when the NRA cites this they conveniently ignore the phrase “well-regulated militia.” So basically this probably doesn’t really apply to civilians other than that most men at that time probably belonged to one. Also, it’s pretty much established that “the right to bear arms” doesn’t apply to allowing a civilian to own a grenade, tank, bazooka, or even build a bomb. I mean that would be silly wouldn’t it? Thus, I think that gun control is perfectly constitutional. Still, gun violence is a problem in this nation and the role of guns and gun culture needs to be discussed because you can’t try to prevent gun violence without talking about the guns.

How to Survive in Southwestern Pennsylvania-A Guide to Outsiders

1. Team jerseys not to wear on football game day: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, and maybe New England Patriots or whoever else the Steelers are playing that day.

2. Team jerseys not to wear on Hockey game day: Philadelphia Flyers or whoever else the Penguins are playing against.

3. As for Division I college teams, usually most will be for Pitt or Penn State, though there is a sizable minority who will root for West Virginia. (In my house, it’s pretty much for Pitt.)

4. When traveling on the highway during spring and summer, road construction crews will be a common sight.

5. When going through Pittsburgh, do not use the Parkway during rush hour since it will be jammed packed full of traffic.

6. As with soft drinks it’s always referred to as “pop” not soda nor coke. Also, in these parts, coke is usually seen as cocaine, which is illegal.

7. Expect drunk sports fans to be everywhere on game day since most towns in the region tend to have more bars than churches.

8. Haluski, kielbasa, and pierogies aren’t considered ethnic food in the region and will be served even at concession stands.

9. Don’t expect our country roads to be great places to drive on for there will be potholes, cracks, and other road condition issues.

10. When pronouncing Youghiogheny as in the River, remember that the first “o” is short and the “u” is silent. It’s also known as the Yough, which everyone refers to it anyway.

11. You will only be able to buy alcohol at the local state store since most local stores can’t sell booze here because it’s Pennsylvania.

12. If it stops raining on a cloudy day, always be prepared it will start  again.

13. In the winter, everyone will be mostly concerned with road conditions, delays, and closings, especially when it snows.

14. There’s a good reason why it’s said that Pittsburgh is a drinking town with a football problem and vice versa.

15. There are some parts of Fayette County I wouldn’t advise you to show your face. Same may be for Greene County as well.

16. In this area, California can be a town or a university (though not always of great repute) while Indiana is a county (and home to IUP a well known party school if you know what I mean).

17. Profanity and drinking are great traditions in this region.

18. You might want to stay away from certain areas in the Mon Valley, while you’re at it. I mean some places may be nice but it’s still kind of a shithole.

19. If you go to Ohio State, you may be surprised of what the people of Jeannette think of Terrell Pryor.

20. You might not want to go hiking in the woods the Monday after Thanksgiving (especially since it’s a day when most area children don’t have school).

21. You might want to make sure your fly’s zipped when someone tells you that “Kennywood’s open.”

22. There’s a big difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Immaculate Reception which even a child will know but will call both instances nothing short of great miraculous significance.

23. Don’t ask me why there are 4 country music stations on the radio.

24. For those who think the area seems any way similar than what was depicted in The Deer Hunter, prepare to be disappointed or in utter shock.

25. Expect many people to be decked with the black and gold on game day, especially in the fall.

26. The Primanti Bros. Pittsburgher is actually not as good as they say it is.

27. Eat n’ Park is a nice place to eat with your family and they actually have smiley face cookies for the kids.

28. Shooting deer is serious business here so be thrilled that there’s no hunting on Sunday.

29. Yinz and yunz are second person pronouns in the plural tense.

30. If there’s a closed country road, go another way since it will take months before Penn DOT will show up.