Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Action: What the First Amendment Actually Means

So, as student of history and hence a student of the US Constitution, one of the things that literally makes me hate the education that children are receiving and truly believe that people have lost the ability to synthesize information is the defense of a stupid or hateful comment with the first amendment of the Bill of Rights.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.gkVkgFxQ.dpuf

IMG_0023The first amendment is by far the most far reaching amendment and the most widely incorrectly cited. You can’t just say something awful and say “It’s free speech.” when someone tells you you’re being a moron. Free speech does not actually mean that you can say whatever you want without consequence. It means you have the right to say it, but it does not excuse you from the repercussions of that statement. For instance, the first amendment does not entitle you to say something racist at work and not be fired for it. Your employer has the right to fire you for slander of either the person you said it about or the company itself.

The first amendment also protects the rights of the press. Journalists who report the truth. The “press” should not really encompass the people who are ruining the lives of actors and artists for their own public gain. Just because the story makes money for your magazine, doesn’t mean it should be published. Do you think the founding fathers of America believed that the internet would be a thing when they were sitting in Independence Hall screaming at one another in the hot Philadelphia summer? Do you think they felt that it was necessary to ask themselves “How does this right work IMG_1819for the press when they want to slander the lives of famous people?” NO! BECAUSE NO ONE CARED! They, unlike people of today, realized that artists, politicians, and “famous” people are…people, fellow human beings. I’m not saying that people in the public eye should not be held accountable for their actions. EVERYONE SHOULD BE! AND IT’S NOT HAPPENING! Rights from the Constitution and its amendments can be employed in as much as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. I would say publishing nude photos of actresses because you hacked into their computer (whether in the cloud or otherwise) is infringing on their right to the pursuit of happiness, their right to privacy and is theft of their private property. I realize that the internet has truly changed the world and questions the rules in play. Just as I have the right to write this blog, someone has the right to say that I’m wrong if they think I am. We have the right to have the discussion but if that discussion leads to illegal action, that’s where we run into a serious problem.

I think the internet and social media have blurred the line between freedom of speech and freedom of action (which is not a fundamental right, you cannot simply do whatever you want, that would lead to anarchy and things like the Purge…tread carefully). Continuing with the use of the nude photo leak example, if you went to someone’s house and stole nude photos of them and published them in a magazine, that’s not freedom of the press, that’s theft and that journalist would be arrested for stealing and trespassing onto private property. So…what’s the difference between that and committing the same crime digitally. Just because it’s there and you want it, does not entitle you to take it. And with free speech, just because you think it doesn’t mean you should say it. You can, that’s a right provided to you by the government, AND ONLY THE GOVERNMENT, but it doesn’t protect you from the response and reactions of others.

IMG_1810I think this age of individualism is actually really dangerous and the internet has given us a mask to hide behind, our keyboards. You can do a lot of damage from behind those keyboards. You can spread hate and that’s not the intent of the right to free speech. The right to free speech should be used for good and to protect yourself and your ideas. Also, remember that private entities, not owned by the government, do actually have the ability to restrict what you say. For example, if you are found out to be sending hate mail on a website like tumblr, youtube, Facebook and twitter, your account can be deleted and you will be reported. We seem to have, as a culture, lost the ability to care about the greater good and are only out for the private good and not the public good. This is VERY BAD! While there are amazing organizations that are doing the right thing and joining together to promote the public good, there are a lot of stupid people who are only looking out for the interests of themselves as individuals. Where is that going to lead us?! It’s going to lead us down a seriously dangerous path and we will lose the collaborative spirit that made this country amazing in it’s early years. Look back in history, amazing things happen when people come together for the good of the public and sometimes that means sacrificing a small private want in order to accomplish something much more amazing.

Think before you open your mouth to speak or hit the keys on your keyboard, take five seconds to make sure that you are saying something worth saying. Don’t just speak to speak, say something with purpose. Say something educated and intelligent. Make sure you aren’t saying something inaccurate and stupid. Sometimes ranting in cathartic, sometimes it’s dangerous and inaccurate driven only by misunderstanding, hatred and anger. Just something to think about…keep sifting through shelves.

Dapper Day Fall 2014 Walt Disney World

On September 27, 2014 I attended one of my favorite events that takes place at the SONY DSCWalt Disney World Resort over the calendar year, Dapper Day. This year, as last year, it took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and most of the events happened in the afternoon. It was literally one of the best days I have ever had in that park, and I love that park a lot.

I started off with a few pictures on the main street leading up to the Sorcerer’s hat where I was confused for a citizen of Hollywood Character performer, which basically made my whole day and some photos with the Dapper Day photographer who I bumped into pretty much right away. Then I had lunch with two amazing friends at the Fifties Primetime Cafe, which was the perfect setting for more photos and the food was incredible. I had the pot roast with a chocolate milkshake. Our waitress was our “babysitter” and the family next to use was amazing and shared their dessert credits with us so I had a Coke float as well. It was so good and the interaction with the cast members there was so much SONY DSCfun. After lunch we made our way over to Star Tours where I got to be the Rebel Spy, for the first time ever!! Second Magical Moment of the day! Then we headed to Sunset Blvd to take some pictures with the Dapper backgrounds there and we had some amazing Photopass cast members and we met up with the Dapper Avenger Squad (who looked literally so amazing!)

Then we headed off to the Magic of Disney Animation to meet Minnie Mouse and take some more photos. We did what we do best and made friends with the girl in line behind us and she’s in our photos 🙂 Then we went to the Disneybound Meet up at 3 in front of the Great Movie Ride for a HUGE group photo. This is always a fun meet up because there are so many people who share similar interests, love of Disney, old Hollywood and vintage fashion. I always meet amazing people and get great pictures at this one.

Dapper Day Collage Photopass 1The next meet up was the Dapper Day meet up at the Studio Backlot Tour for one last ride on its last day of operation, again amazing photos. I love that ride and wish that it wasn’t closing but it was nice to ride it for the last time with lots of other people who loved it too and loved the backstage aspect of Hollywood. What was truly special was that the automated narrator actually wasn’t working in the beginning so the cast member stepped up and spoke the spiel from memory for the people on the tour. Once the voice over kicked back in it was back to normal. For those who don’t know, the Studio Backlot Tour used to always have a live cast member tour guide so to have one for half of my last tour on the ride was quite special, it was half of the old attraction and half a ride as it was with the automated narrator. IMG_5123

The biggest meet up of the day was the Dapper Day Meet up at the Great Movie Ride. Everyone who wants to gets in line together to ride the Great Movie Ride together to really get the Old Hollywood mood. I was lucky enough to be asked to ride in the car that the Dapper Day folks would be photographing, which was awesome to share with my friend Carolyn. As always, lovely conversation with the people in line behind us, who were also cast members (a lot of the people at Dapper Day are). Again…lots of photos.

Dapper Day Photopass Collage 2My last meet up of the day was with Magical Ribbons, a really talented bow maker that I met on Tumblr and have met in the parks a few times! She’s one of the sweetest people ever and it’s always nice to see her! We sat around a table and chatted for a bit and saw the Frozen Fireworks. After that I headed home after a VERY successful Dapper Day! I had a truly amazing time and took well over 500 pictures. If I saw any of you that day, feel free to comment and share your pictures!

Maintaining A Positive Attitude While Abroad

SONY DSC I know a lot of others like myself who have participated in an internship or study abroad program. My program was one that a lot of people have participated in, the Disney College Program; my program was in Florida but there is also one in California. I had the amazing opportunity to begin working with Disney at my local Disney Store before moving to the most magical place on earth. I participated in the Disney College Program and the Disney Professional Internship Program. This meant a year away from my home in Pennsylvania. I’m still in Florida now, happy as a clam so I figured I would share with the world how I maintain my positive attitude so far from home.

For one thing, I do maintain contact with my family and friends regularly. Technology has made it much easier to study or work abroad these days. With Facebook, Twitter, FaceTime, email, texting etc, I can contact family whenever they are available at the same time as I am, breaks from work, days off, etc. I also keep everyone in the loop through postings lots of pictures on social media and occasionally sending cards home. Sometimes it feels good just to put something in the mail. I also visit when I can and they visit me when possible! (How could they not?! I live in Disney World?!)

One of the most important things while being far away from home and family for the first time is keeping things in perspective and while I will openly admit that sometimes I’ve failed at this. However, keeping the future in proportion, and realizing that your family has your back will definitely keep the anxiety of future plans to come in check. I always try to remember that I am living in the Most Magical Place on Earth and that always lifts my mood whenever I am freaking out about jobs, money, or the future. Not every day will be perfect, but as a whole, being abroad anywhere is an incredible experience. I don’t know anyone who has every regretted it!

One of the things I can consistently add to and look back on if I’m feeling blue is my Magical Moments Journal. It’s like my own version of Ellie’s Adventure Book. I keep little scrapbook-able momentos in the back half of the pages and write down magical moments next to the date in the front half. I spend a lot of time in the wonderful parks and hotels of the resort and I want to remember as much as I can, whether that be through notes or pictures. Whenever I’m having a down day, these notes remind me of what an amazing time I’m having and what a wonderful place I get to work in and the difference I make in the vacations of families and the difference the people of WDW make in my life!

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 2.25.52 PMThis leads me to my next little trick. Gratitude, sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) when I am visiting the parks, whether on a planned whole day there with friends or on my own after work, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity I have been presented with. I get to visit this amazing place whenever I want and be surrounded by the culture of something I have been in love with for a very long time. I love Disney, unapologetically so. Being around the parks all the time and in one of the hubs of Disney culture, and being surrounded by other people who love Disney as much as I do has presented a unique opportunity to research and talk with people who are as passionate as I am. Since I am also a writer on top of everything else, I read a lot of books to supplement my knowledge so that I can eventually share it with others.

I also stick to my roots. I love dance, history and theatre and cosmetics so I have also picked up part time jobs at a local dance studio and at a new Lush Cosmetics store. I also volunteer at the local history museum giving tours. I then have a chance to explore the city of Orlando, and do research at the museum’s research center and the library next door. Sure, I have a really full plate, but it’s good that I keep myself busy so that I can keep that homesickness at bay and enjoy myself to the fullest.

If I ever find myself freaking out and just feeling really down for some reason and I have the financial means to do so, I treat myself. Whether it’s to a new pin or a side of Mickey Waffles at a resort. I know what I can do to pick myself up. Visiting a park or watching a Disney movie are other ways to raise my mood. Sipping a coffee while strolling down Main Street USA or riding the train around the Magic Kingdom while eating popcorn or visiting my favorite character at Animal Kingdom before watching Festival of the Lion King. One show that NEVER fails to cheer me up is Fantasmic. If I’m feeling blue, I hop on the Tower of Terror or Toy Story Midway Mania, grab some mac and cheese from my favorite quick service stand and head to Fantasmic. It’s a quick evening that I can do after work and it’s my ultimate pick me up. Sometimes I need something that’s not Disney, and that’s totally ok. I grab a John Green book, watch some reruns on Netflix with a Lush Bath Bomb or read some Harry Potter with a cup of tea. Whatever I need that day. Knowing how to cheer yourself up when you are feeling down is a great way to maintain your happiness while abroad.

The last thing that always makes each day lovely is living in the moment. I don’t mean forgetting about the future or abandoning responsibilities, I just mean taking each moment of each day as its own. Living in the future tends to lead to stress and living in the past leads to regret. Living in the here and now, as a professor of mine once put it, allows me to make each moment count and enjoying each day to its fullest. #YOLO as people sometimes put it, but in a sensible way. Not going out of control, just allowing time to enjoy myself, not everyone gets to live in a kingdom with a castle and everyday access to their favorite place on earth!

A Response to John Green’s “I Hate Batman” video

 

So this is where I say…he’s right you know. And he is, Batman/Bruce Wayne is a fundamentally bad billionaire. I’m not going to repeat the entirety of the content of the video, you can watch it yourself.

I would like to point out that the origin story of Batman is where it all starts to go downhill for Batman. I’ve seen Batman Begins and I’ve read a lot of comics, Gotham is a seriously damaged city and the Wayne Family uses their money to try to help fix that damage, clearly not well enough though because the very crime that they are doing so much to stop at its core is what ends up killing the Wayne parental units in the first place. This makes Batman a seriously sad and damaged person. This is understandable, seeing ones parents shot dead in front of them would do bad things to a person psychologically. This is when therapy should have been an order. Seriously…MAD BAT PHOBIA…but I digress. There are all sorts of psychological problems in Gotham and mob affiliations and this is clearly leading to the crime ridden state that Gotham has found itself in. If the city took a turn toward ultimate decay after the Wayne parents were killed…the city had problems bigger than were being addressed. Meanwhile, Batman is using his new found wealth as an adult to go off an become a martial arts master, which was probably very therapeutic, clearly not therapeutic enough but still. He also could have definitely done this within the United States and did not need to fly to Asia for it.

Basically, as John said, what makes Batman a bad villain is that he uses his money to make himself technologically superior to others when he could be putting that money into the good of the city. Taking the entire crime ridden state of a city on on your own is never going to fix the city. You have to fix the problems that cause the crime and the psychosis in the city, not just punish the bad guys. You can’t just fight it, you have to fix it. The people of Gotham are clearly incredibly weak and damaged if they are willing to follow people like the Riddler, the Joker and the Penguin. Some of the other villains are just silly, but most are psychologically disturbed. He’s a bad hero. I’m not saying that Batman never did anything for charity, but he didn’t do quite enough. He’s a damaged individual with a grudge and nothing particularly special about him, except his wealth. He does a poor job of living up to his parents’ legacy. Is it his fault that in the years required for him to grow up, Gotham took a turn for the worst and turned into a crime ridden city of urban decay? Obviously not. But…he didn’t fix the problem when he definitely could have. Did the mob infiltration of the government of Gotham put it past the point of no return? Maybe it did. But…had Bruce Wayne gone to school for law and become involved in the politics of Gotham, he could have done significantly more good than he did as a vigilante. His last name was incredibly powerful and he essentially didn’t use that to his advantage.

I do want to elaborate on John’s contradiction to himself, Iron Man. In the beginning of his journey, Iron Man is only slightly better than Batman. His power stems from a device he uses to stay alive and he chooses to do mostly good with it. He shares it with the public within reason, once it begins being used for bad, that’s where Tony has a problem with sharing his technology. He does allow it to be used for the good of the public, but again within his control. The government basically employs Tony’s technology, at benefit to Tony’s bank account and the city of New York. He uses the Iron Man Suit to increase the power of the core and do good for the public. The public that Iron Man is protecting is also fundamentally different from the public of Gotham. The public of the Marvel Iron Man universe is not broken almost past the point of repair. It’s not full of completely off the handle psychos that can’t be stopped in their rampage of pointlessly killing people for fun. Most of Tony Stark’s villains are out to get Tony, not the public. I understand that some of Batman’s villains are out to get Batman himself, they do a lot of damage to Gotham itself in the process and some Marvel villains do the same. John Green points out that the greatest good comes from collaboration. In the case of the Iron Man saga, this is totally true. When a greater evil than Iron Man can handle attacks the people of Earth, collaboration of the members of the Avengers is what saves the world, not any one of the heroes on their own. (I should add that I do know that Batman joins the Justice League, though I’m not as familiar with his Justice League story). I realize that this is only the beginning of a long and complicated conversation about the root of evil action and how to combat that evil. Please, discuss among yourselves. I will keep the conversation going as I think the correlation between entertainment and why people like it is important. I think if we think of Batman as an ultimate good, we are a seriously misled people. Keep on sifting through shelves.

Aldi Food Markets

So this morning when I realized that it had been quite some time since I had gone food shopping and my cupboards were quite empty, I decided to make a financially savvy decision and head to my “local” Aldi Food Market. I say “local” because it’s almost 20 minutes away from my apartment as opposed to the Publix which is about 3 minutes away.

I arrived at Aldi and realized that due to the fact that I don’t carry cash on my person, I did not have the quarter necessary to rent a cart…so I had to carry all the things I was intending on purchasing, which made for a very sad looking version of myself constantly dropping things. But I thought to myself, “hey, live and learn, bring a quarter next time”. By about 30 minutes in, I had acquired enough food that I needed to check out or I was literally going to drop everything and look like a fool. So I approach the checkout and I got everything on the belt and scanned and the gentleman at the checkout asked how I wanted to pay, as I wasn’t getting paid until Thursday and this was a Tuesday, I said credit. He said they could only take debit or cash…this is where I kinda mentally lost it. I had driven out of my way to go to a store marketed to people on a budget and I couldn’t use my credit card. This was baffling to me. I later found out it was because of credit card fees charged to the store for each credit transaction but I was still seriously frustrated and “hangry” (a term for being angry because you are hungry, a symptom of my low blood sugar). What made me even more annoyed was that if I had attempted to use food stamps, which I am not on, I could have paid with those… I have good enough credit to have a credit card but I can’t use it because I’m on a tight budget. The paradox was just too much for me to handle in my hypoglycemic rage. He asked if I had a debit card. I said, “Yes I do, but I need the money to pay my rent this month. I guess I will be going to Publix after all.” And with that I left the store empty handed. I said I knew I had used a card there before, it must have been my debit card, I guess. Now I know part of my irritated state at the store was caused by the fact that it had been too long since I had eaten, but none the less, I was annoyed. I did end up going to Publix, “where shopping is a pleasure”. And it was, the people were all very nice and the manager walked me and my groceries out to my car, but I still ended up spending 2x as much as I had wanted to in order to fill my cabinets. I was majorly conflicted. I guess now I know that I can’t use a credit card at Aldi and I have to bring a quarter in order to use a cart and I have to have my own bags if I don’t want to pay for them. (This I agree with, as I think people use WAY too much plastic to transport their groceries and I usually have my own bags anyway, the quarter for the cart is to keep them out of the parking lot, which I also understand now, I just wish I had known). I just wanted to make all of this known to other people who are on a tight budget so that the next time you go to Aldi, you don’t get caught off guard like I was and have the same terribly unpleasant experience.

Was this a serious case of first world problems just piling up to make for a bad experience? Yes, but nonetheless, I was annoyed. Next time you go to Aldi, you better go with the knowledge that with the cheap prices, comes providing your own bag, temporarily paying for your cart and using cash or debit. I’ll step down from my soapbox now and put my life back in perspective, I was able to get food and eat that day, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m doing just fine.  Keep sifting through shelves!