Tag Archives: guilt

Polygraphs and Monotheism: More Complex Than Expected

I am a Christian.

That’s more or less exactly how I began a blog post way back in 2013, when I attempted to combat a very prevalent and largely Christian argument against gay marriage. While it’s rarely ever stated as explicitly I also like to think that this fact isn’t something I’ve obscured or tried to keep secret.

On that note, the topic of Christianity also isn’t anything new here at Culture War Reporters. While the majority of these posts have focused on art that willingly bears that descriptor, my co-writers have also delved a little deeper into that belief system and morality. While the former may seem more at home given what we typically cover, a review of our About page readily sums up why the latter is just as appropriate as anything else.

In it we touch on culture wars as a “a conflict between societies with different ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and behaviours,” as well as how we are both individually and collectively wrestling with them. It’s the concept of two vastly differing perspectives that solidified whether or not I should do a brief write-up on my recent experience with a polygraph test. Continue reading

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The Internet and Mob Justice

On January 16th, a pet supply worker was fired for a racist tirade on a blog. On the 13th of the same month, Iron Mountain Daily News blacklisted a freelance writer after she was revealed using racial slurs. On the 11th of this month, a juvenile justice employ in Kentucky was fired for racist and violent postings on his Facebook wall.

Nothing surprising at first glance.

With ever-increasing social consciousness and public focus on modern-day racism in the past year, it’s nothing shocking that a person would be fired for getting caught making bigoted claims. Only these folks weren’t caught– they were exposed.

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3 Things About Valentine’s Day That Are Less Fun to Criticize Than 50 Shades of Grey

My Facebook feed has been peppered with articles about 50 Shades of Grey in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, and the discussion doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. I certainly do agree that the books and movie sound like they have some super abusive content, and that they might just signal a larger cultural problem that we aren’t deal with, but I also feel like they’re just a little too easy to criticize.

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Instead of preaching to the choir about the 50 Shades series, I plan to make us all feel guilty about the part of Valentine’s Day that is much harder to address: consumerism. This post will focus specifically on the three most common gifts associated with the holiday: flowers, chocolate, and jewelry.

1. Flowers

Did I ever tell you about the job I had picking flowers? It wasn’t actually as easy as it sounds.

The organization I worked for paid by the bundle. If you didn’t cut the stems long enough, or if you included any flowers that had already started to bloom, that bunch was thrown out and you wouldn’t get paid for it. At first, I kind of enjoyed the work. It was monotonous, so I had lots of time for thinking, and I loved being outside in the sun. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always sunny. When it rained my shoes would be sucked deep into the mud. Not to mention how being constantly bent-over made my back hurt. Often, at the end of the day, I would suddenly
realize that the money I made didn’t even equal out to minimum wage. As soon as I was able to get another job, I quit.

That experience was probably the first time I started to think about the history of flowers. Where did they come from? Who picked them? How far were they being shipped? Continue reading

Perfunctory Valentine’s Day Post 2015 [Yes, I Write About That]

To start things off, Happy Galentine’s Day. What’s that, you say, you’re not familiar with the term? Well, I’m sure Pawnee’s very own Leslie Knope could, as Gordon says, “break it down for you”:

That was a lot less specific than I had hoped, but the point of that was to a) reference a sitcom, the last season of which you should all be watching right now, b) bring attention to a day that is for “celebrating special lady friends”, and c) start things off on a lighter note before I have to tackle what has been all over all of your social media feeds for the past two weeks now.

In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, it’s 50 Shades of Grey.

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White Guilt, Privilege, and Justice

It’s my understanding that later this week Evan will be providing some cutting observations on the state of Tumblr [two months later… -Evan.], especially in regards to its role as a haven of intrepid social justice and/or goose-stepping political correctness. While I’m guessing there might be some overlap in our posts, I figured I’d try to lay the groundwork here.

Not too long ago, readers, I stumbled across a garish little webpage dedicated to celebrating the “WISDOM OF THE LAKOTA”. In florid terms, the site noted the Sioux’s dedication to nature, their exemplary thriftiness, and their peace-loving nature.

There’s plenty of things you could say about the old Lakota tribes- that they were “peaceful” isn’t one of ’em. For *****’s sake, Lakota translates to “The Enemy”. One does not become synonymous with war by handing out daisy chains and Hallmark cards.

“We come bearing the pointy sticks of friendship!”

Now this wasn’t the first time I had seen that very list. A few months earlier, I had come across the exact same one, only this time it was attributed to the Cherokee. And not long before that, I had seen it posted as a set of Cheyenne commandments. And Iroquois, and Cree, and Blackfoot, and so on. Continue reading

Permission To Laugh?

Gordon and I have talked about offensiveness as far as stand-up comedy, and came to the general consensus that if you’re mocking the perpetrators of rape and racism you are doing a good thing. You can joke about hot-button issues if you’re not demeaning them, if you’re using satire and not just being an uncouth [and unfunny] person. You are permitted to broach these topics because you are doing so in a respectful manner.

Now, from time to time I like to peruse the funny pictures on the popular image hosting site imgur, which I continue to pronounce “im-gur” in spite of being directly told I was wrong on the site’s FAQ. Part of what makes the site so popular is its community, responsible for the comments on various images being rewarded by “upvotes,” mostly due to their level of wit.

There is another scale of judgement when it comes to doling out internet points, however, and it directly ties into what I was writing about offence and comedy. See the image below:

Continue reading

Guilt in The Congo and the Koprulu Sector

Fairly spoilery.
                                                                                                                                                                      

No matter the medium, there have always been dominant themes in literature. Whether it be the theme of adulthood in About a Boy or the exploration of childhood in Calvin and Hobbes, writers have long voiced their opinions in their work, stating their viewpoints on universal experience. This can clearly be seen in the real time strategy game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and the novel The Poisonwood Bible. Though [literally] worlds apart in format and subject matter,  the two are bound together beneath the overarching theme of guilt.

Wings of Liberty‘s Jim Raynor is a man haunted by the ghosts of his past. The sector’s current tyrant, Emperor Mengsk, rules with an iron fist and sits proudly upon his throne due to the former-marshal’s aid in the first war. This despot betrayed Raynor’s love, Sarah Kerrigan, by ordering her to place a device on the capital planet which would lure in the voracious Zerg like moths to a flame, and then abandoning her to them. The Zerg would later transform Kerrigan into a creature known far and wide as the Queen of Blades, a malicious killing machine who would later terrorize the sector and kill Raynor’s closest Protoss ally and friend.

Four years later Raynor is taking steps to topple the government he helped establish. His band of rebels is working to right the wrong that is the Terran Dominion, but even in spite of this the loss of Kerrigan and his guilt over her abandonment remain. These feelings are exacerbated when his old friend Tychus Findlay walks back into his life. Years earlier Tychus took the blame for both of them and was incarcerated for nine years. His reappearance in Raynor’s life brings back countless memories of the good ol’ days, and Raynor is forced to constantly defend his friend against the suspicions and accusations of his crew.

As victories accumulate an opportunity arises, a chance to reclaim the Queen of Blades and restore Sarah Kerrigan to her former self arises. However, the source of the offer is Mengsk’s son, bringing him dangerously close to the man he wants dead. The gripping conclusion of the first chapter of the StarCraft II trilogy involves Raynor having to choose between two regrets, two immense sources of guilt, and his decision holds the fate of their world in its hands.

The Poisonwood Bible is the story of the Prices, a Baptist family who moves from Georgia to the unfamiliar wilds of the Congo. Narrated by the five women of the family, the tale is seen and told through the eyes of Orleanna, wife of preacher Nathan Price, and their daughters, Rachel, the eldest, Leah and Adah, the diametric twins, and Ruth May, the youngest. Originally planning on only staying for a year, their missionary tenure in the village of Kilanga is set awry by political upsets, many of which are caused by their own government.

The Prices do not adjust well to life in Africa, and the strain of life in an unfamiliar land is evident in their interactions with one another. While guilt is not present in their lives from the get-go, things take a sharp downhill turn once Nathan Price begins to force Christianity upon the villagers in a manner which borders on antagonistic. Their lives are placed in danger when political unrest begins to encroach on the borders of their existence in Kilanga and natural disasters such as a drought and the resulting famine cause many of them to wish they had never travelled to the Congo in the first place. Guilt’s immense weight finally falls, however, at the death of one of the Price daughters. None of the narrators are exempt from this event, and all are bowed beneath its burden as they move on with their lives, never quite leaving the past behind them.

The second wave of guilt is felt only by some, and it directly involves the once-hopeful nation of the Congo. America’s desire for cheap diamonds and cobalt leads to a scheme that will put the leader they want in charge of the country, a plan which will overthrow the newly-elected Patrice Lumumba, voice of the Congolese. Western guilt lies leaden on the shoulders of most (but not all) of the Price women, the actions of the Belgians in the colonial era and the actions of their own American countrymen in the post-colonial. Lives and hopes lost at the hands of their Western brethren force them to reconsider who they are as people, and to try their best to come to some sort of reconciliation.

Jim Raynor and Orleanna Price both have lines which, while appearing simple on the surface, speak volumes about who they are and what they’ve done with their lives. Facing his final decision Raynor says, “We are who we choose to be,” a line almost stupidly simple at first glance. In it, however, these seven words manage to encompass his decision to turn away from a life of crime to become a marshal, and then a rebel freedom fighter, a path Tychus looks upon scornfully. These words contain within them his choice to set aside revenge for closure, to save lives instead of sit back, and, finally, his decision to choose between what appears just and what could be redemption.

Orleanna, in the first few pages of the book, tells the reader, “One has only a life of one’s own.” This straightforward statement means more and more as the narrative progresses, yet from the beginning it reveals that she does not really feel needed or loved, and thus has only herself as company. As the novel goes on Orleanna makes her own pivotal decision, one that directly affects her remaining daughters and their lives to come. Opting to set aside her weak-willed self and to put on strength and intensity, she becomes a woman motivated by the eventual safety of what family she has left.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and The Poisonwood Bible both feature protagonists who are riddled with guilt and yet seek freedom from it, who are forced to face it and move on, and who make their largest decisions in the midst of disaster, panic, and betrayal. Both have lived lives full of regrets, yet firmly choose to make one less mistake, for the sake of others and not for themselves.

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. New York: Harper Flamingo, 1998. Print.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. V 1.0.1.16195. 31 July 2010. Blizzard Entertainment. 31 July 2010.