Tenth-grade health and physical education teacher Michele Van Bibber noticed a disturbing trend of over-sharing personal information on social media and decided to make a creative lesson out of it.
“I think that there is quite a bit of new social media out there and it’s changed in the way students, or even the way adults, expose themselves to it,” said Van Bibber. “I think there has been a big boom like the explosion of Twitter, posting on Facebook, and looking at each other’s pictures on Instagram.”
Van Bibber talked with her students about their social media usage. “I know kids are exposing such private details on the Web,” she said. “The students might also want to be friends with people and sometimes they don’t even know who they are.”
She then launched an experiment with her students’ help. One of them took a picture of her holding a sign that read, “Please share this photo for a class experiment on social media. Write your location in the comments. Thanks!”
Van Bibber and her students talked about what they thought the outcome would be. “I asked [the students], ‘if I post this picture on my personal Facebook page, do you think anyone can see it?'” she said. “One of the students said ‘I didn’t think it would work because she doesn’t have many friends.’”
After posting the picture on Facebook, the class watched its status for three days. It eventually received 47,385 likes, 217,649 comments, and over 351,000 shares.
Van Bibber’s students were surprised at how many people saw the photo. “The kids were taken aback,” she said. “I don’t think they realized how fast the picture could get out there.”
After the results came in, Van Bibber talked with her class about social media safety. “I just wanted them to be a little more cautious of who has access to what they post — what if it got into the wrong hands?” she said. “Also, some decisions that we might not think through now could potentially harm us in future endeavors — like the chances of getting into a specific college, or getting a job.”
Van Bibber believes this is one lesson that definitely made an impact. “I think this made them look back at who was actually following them, and I do think it had an impact,” she said.
First there was one, then there were four. On the heels of candidacy announcements by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul come two more: Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.
Clinton announced her candidacy on Sunday in a two-minute video. The video featured scenes of people, predominantly minorities, preparing to do various things. Near the end, Clinton appeared and said, “I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president.”
“Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,” Clinton said. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote — because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Rubio had more to say when he announced his candidacy at the Freedom Tower in Miami. “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” Rubio said. “Yesterday’s over, and we’re never going back.”
Rubio said the “dangerous concessions” to Iran and the “hostility” towards Israel need to end. “We must change the decisions we are making, by changing the people who are making them,” he said. “That is why tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, but inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.”
“I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president,” he said. “I have a debt to America I must try to repay.”
More candidates will be announced over the next few months as the primary election approaches. It remains to be seen who will secure the nominations for the various parties.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate voted 37-4 in favor of House Bill 1721, which would ban dismemberment abortions, with exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger. The House voted strongly in favor of the bill back in February, and it now goes to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.
“We applaud the Oklahoma legislature for standing up for unborn children by passing the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “This is a transformative law that has the power to change how the public views the gruesome reality of abortion in the United States.”
The procedure is brutal, as noted by a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 2000. “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. “The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.”
“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”
Approximately 250 of these abortions were performed in 2013 alone, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “It’s gruesome,” said Sen. Josh Brecheen, a major supporter of the bill.
Amid support for the bill, there were also strong objections. “While women should not have to justify their personal medical decisions, the reality is that nine in 10 abortions in the U.S. occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” Angie Remington, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, said. “Abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy is less common, but in all cases, a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.”
Still, pro-life activists were jubilant. “The Oklahoma legislature is to be commended for protecting unborn children and prohibiting this barbaric inhumanity,” said Oklahomans For Life State Chairman Tony Lauinger.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a similar bill into law Tuesday, making Kansas the first state to ban the procedure.
Missouri and South Carolina are currently considering similar legislation.
During the recent media commotion over Indiana’s religious freedom law, Memories Pizza owners were asked hypothetically whether they would cater for a gay wedding. They answered that they would not, for religious reasons.
Chaos erupted. Death threats, arson threats, and terrible reviews poured in from people who claimed the restaurant was not tolerant. The family-owned business was forced to close.
“Rather than allowing this family to simply have their opinion, which they were asked to give, outraged people grabbed the torches and began a campaign to destroy this small business in small town Indiana,” Lawrence Jones, television opinion contributor for Blaze TV, wrote on the GoFundMe page he and some coworkers set up for the family.
“All [the commotion was] for having an opinion that is rooted in faith,” Jones continued. “No one was turned away. No one was discriminated against. It was a hypothetical question asked by a news reporter who had questionable motives to begin with.”
The GoFundMe page went viral. In a little over two days, 29,161 people donated $842,442. The number would likely have continued climbing, but the page was closed to donations.
Many of the donors left beautiful, heartwarming comments that expressed a vision of true tolerance. Among them was Courtney Hoffman, a self-identified “member of the gay community.”
“As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business,” Hoffman wrote. “I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business according to those beliefs. We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild.”
When asked why she donated, Hoffman replied, “My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said. “Like, if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”
Hoffman said the “horrible, hate-filled attacks” were not representative of many of the people she knows.
“The gay community that we know knows full well what it’s like to be condemned for doing nothing but living your life according to your beliefs,” she said. “We know so many gay individuals that fully support the freedom of living your life according to your beliefs and feel that freedom extends to everyone, even the people that we don’t agree with.”
One of Hoffman’s dreams is that people become truly tolerant. “There’s this tendency to group people together — they are either one thing or they are another,” she said. “I just think there’s a lot of room for differences and similarities between all of these businesses, all of these communities, and if we can remember that differences don’t equal maliciousness, and try to find what we have in common — you know, the ands instead of the ors. Maybe we can move beyond threats of violence and have open discussions of the things that we don’t agree on.”
The responses to Hoffman’s donation were “so positive and amazing,” with many expressing the wish to see more people like this lady. “This is what equal tolerance looks like! Thank you for people like her,” one commenter wrote.
Another said, “That’s the greatest thing I’ve seen in years.. Why can’t more people be like that. Agree to disagree and accept. Well done.”
Multiple responses said things such as “this is what real tolerance looks like” and “this is exactly what tolerance is.”
Another gentleman, Buz Smith, donated $250 to the pizzeria. He wrote, “My partner and I have been together almost 27 years. The Democratic Leadership hi-jacked the Gay community many years ago and continues to spew the intolerance of religion as they promote the tolerances of their choices. This is one big community organized ploy with the media to do harm to people with religious convictions, conservatives, capitalism on and on. Love Peace and Happiness to the Family!!!”
Lawrence Jones wrote on the GoFundMe page that the original goal of $25,000 “was to help the family stave off the burdensome cost of having the media parked out front, activists tearing them down, and no customers coming in. Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family’s plate as the strangers sought to destroy them.”
“Thank you for helping us do some good for this family who were scared and in hiding just 24 hours before this writing,” he added. “All money, save whatever percentage GoFundMe takes, will be transferred directly to whichever bank account the O’Connors wish to use. Show producers are in direct contact with the family to ensure that they never feel like they are being left out of what is going on.”
“Thank you to everyone for your generosity.”
The next steps for the pizzeria, which include working with a financial advisor, can be read here.
A peaceful, legally registered pro-life demonstration was forcibly shut down near the European Parliament buildings in Brussels on Tuesday. The gathering was organized by the active Polish pro-life group Fundacja Pro; Michał Marusik, a Polish Member of the European Parliament; and the Instigos Institute.
After an angry mob surrounded the activists, police used force to take their signs and a Polish flag.
“When we display graphic abortion pictures on the streets of Poland, the reaction we get is mostly sympathetic,” Kaja Godek, a leading Polish pro-lifer, said. “In Brussels, we met with aggression and a hysterical reaction. Some furious people surrounded us screaming that we were sick and that the photographs of abortion victims were a lie.”
“They screamed vulgarities and obscene insults, specifically directed at the ladies in our group,” said Jacek Januszewski, a young pro-life activist. “They threw firecrackers, physically pushed us, and tried to steal our banners.”
But the violence did not end there. “They formed a circle around our group, but were facing us, as if we were the source of aggression, not the mob around us,” Januszewski added. “Even after one of the policemen got hit on the back with something thrown at us by the mob, they still acted as if it was us who caused the danger. We were just standing there in shock.”
Then the police got involved, but not on the side of the law, which expressly permits legal demonstrations.
“At one point a man dressed in civilian clothes approached us all red in the face, pushed us and tried to take our banners by force,” Januszewski said. “When we resisted, he produced a police ID. We asked him what he was doing and what law allowed him to disrupt a legal demonstration like that. He screamed back at us: ‘I am the law in Brussels.’”
The plainclothes police man proceeded to threaten the demonstrators, accusing them of causing violence.
“The man in civilian clothes kept pointing to one specific banner we were holding, showing the face of Adolf Hitler with a caption ‘Hitler legalized abortion on demand for Poles,’” said Godek. “[The undercover policeman] was all red in the face and kept saying he didn’t like it and that it was upsetting everybody. We told him we were being attacked and needed protection. He said that we were the danger, we were provoking violence.”
See the videos of this shocking encounter here.