Liberia is a small and impoverished country on the western coast of Africa with a tragic history absent from all history classes I ever sat through. From 1989 to 1996 the country was immersed in a civil war that took more than 200,000 lives and one of the foremost figures in this lost chapter of history is Joshua Blahyi. Better known by his former alter ego General Butt Naked, Blahyi now works as Christian preacher asking for forgiveness in the same streets he ended countless lives.
With a child army dressed in drag behind him and a penchant for human sacrifice, General Butt Naked is certainly an evil figure in history and yet almost nobody knows who he is. The General was famous amongst his counterparts for walking into battle naked except for shoes and an automatic rifle. The same man who now walks free in Liberia preaching about redemption and God, would sacrifice innocent children, drink their blood, and eat their still-beating hearts before walking into battle.
Looking back on my education, I would have greatly valued this information rather than another boring power point on the War of 1812. Yes, American history is important for this country, but shouldn’t world events, especially those as atrocious as this, be taught to all students as citizens of a global community? The Vice documentary below was my introduction to the atrocities that took place in Liberia, and I strongly suggest watching the whole video because General Butt Naked is only the beginning to the horrific past of Liberia, and many lives are still in the grips of starvation, disease, and war.
Every so often I’ll come across a news story that breaks my heart into bits. The latest story to tear at my foundation is the tragic tale of Jessica Ridgeway, which took an unfortunate turn on October 12. The story begins as many do, in a suburban community, on a quiet fall day. Jessica was last seen walking to the park to meet some friends before school; her entire life lying ahead. After having been missing for one week in what appeared to be a kidnapping, her remains were found mere miles from her home and elementary school in a disturbing fashion. This atrocity has managed to shake an entire community and while the family grieves we, as a society, must take a step back and assess the relationship between the judicial system and media involvement.
More information is drawn from the well of social media now, than ever before. News outlets are browsing sites like Twitter and Facebook for leads and may not be taking into account the credibility of the information. Word of a body being discovered came via a tweet by the Westminster Police department on October 10. Initially it was unknown whether the remains were Jessica but local police did release a twisted bit of information through the Twitter-verse, “Investigators are still working to ID body found in open space. Process is complicated because the body is not intact.” This case is astounding because details pertaining to the remains of a brutally murdered ten-year-old girl came from Twitter. This unprofessional conduct for the local police department is a disservice to the distraught parents waiting at home for any news about their child. The media, however, has pushed its agenda to broadcast this story to the nation because many American’s thrive on tragedy.
When police forces are tweeting constituents about a major investigation we must consider the depths we are reaching in media involvement. We’ve seen what people like Nancy Grace can do for crime drama, for example the Casey Anthony saga. The media seems to have a history for diluting justice and will continue as long as no one steps up to actively prevent them from intruding upon our lives. Although using outlets such as Twitter can increase exposure to a case, with the grand design to find a killer; sometimes they can convolute an investigation.
I could not imagine the pain of losing my own child, and the strength needed to endure this tragedy is unfathomable. There should be restrictions to the lengths media can go while investigating our lives, especially when it concerns such events as the murder of Jessica Ridgeway. While the outcry to bring the monster responsible to justice is strong, the media must not be overzealous and exploit this horrific crime.
Another favorite Man trick is the lottery. Gambling is something that stretches back millennia to smoky halls filled with Chinamen yelling at numbers and sipping herbal tea which has given way to today, where blank faces stare endlessly at blinking screens and scratch off paper cards. The Man has no need to play the lottery, but the rest of us gamble with the hopes of winning something we’ve never had. We know in our own minds that we can’t win in the long run, but our hearts tells us that destiny can beat the numbers. So we play.
When the Man tastes a profit, he’ll sink his teeth in. He outlaws gambling to eliminate competition and manufactures the lottery or, “legal gambling.” He’ll stack the odds worse than a riverboat Casino and invite you to play. You’ll scratch away the fifteen dollars a week college fund, depending on your habit, and when asked how you are doing you say, “about even,” knowing that an extra thirty bucks a month for your daughter’s future is gone to daily numbers. The odds ensure that few win and many of those who do are so addicted that any money won is often willingly given back in future wagers.
The Man will sit back and watch the suckers play, collecting fat stacks of dollar bills for nothing. He’ll take that money and plug it into social programs like education and senior benefits. He’ll smile at press conferences and talk about how the lottery funds programs that help people. Meanwhile, states are using poor people’s tax dollars to pay for their social programs, while easing the tax burden on the rich.
It is absurd to think of a billionaire playing the lottery. Instead, He tricks the tax payers into funding their own social programs while they’re busy giving the Man a greater tax break. When someone does realize their dream and hits for a good wad of cash, the government takes another chunk, past all the dollars lost before winning. So the individual gets stuck with the bill again while Man’s kids are in private school and his parents live in one of his many mansions. So He says, “Hey, you never know,” while He knows that for the house, all bets are a sure thing.
In April of 2010 Kentucky Fried Chicken unveiled the double down sandwich: two deep fried jumbo chicken breasts, two kinds of melted cheese, two strips of bacon, and oozing with the Colonel’s secret sauce. According to the KFC website the 610 calorie sandwich contains 37 grams of fat, 1880 milligrams of sodium, and 300 milligrams of cholesterol. To give you an idea of how much this is for a single sandwich the Food and Drug Administration recommends a maximum of 65 grams of fat, 2400 milligrams of sodium, and 150 milligrams of cholesterol for an entire days consumption (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Also in April of 2010 KFC announced the pink bucket program, in partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, KFC aimed to raise $8 million by donating 50 cents for each bucket sold to the foundation to raise awareness.
THE DOUBLE DOWN, HEART-ATTACK SANDWICH
Yet the American Cancer Society stresses a need to “Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods,” and encourages individuals who tend to enjoy rich fried foods to, “Eat smaller portions when eating high-calorie foods.” Due to consumer demand some fast-food chains have elected to offer a few healthy choices, however, fast-food chains have come under fire as U.S. obesity rates continue to balloon, with more than one-third of U.S. citizens considered obese. Although personal responsibility plays a role, you need not look beyond Ronald McDonald to see the insidious ways these corporations influence society. They are sources of an epidemic. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network had this startling statement on their website about the correlation between cancer and obesity, “Obesity is second only to tobacco as a leading risk factor for cancer. Nearly 30 percent of cancers are attributable to obesity, including colon cancer, breast cancer and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, uterus and kidney. Obese individuals have a 50 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than their healthy-weight counterparts.”
Obviously, chain restaurants like KFC are contributing to obesity and to increased cancer rates in a number of ways. This is an example of the law of Minor Concessions, where a company, organization, etc. gives something small (often a donation of cash) to give the impression that they’re against the very thing that enables their profit reaping. The net contribution of fast food chains like KFC is negative, largely due to their vendetta to turn the largest profit possible at any cost to society. This ultimately contributes to the detriment of many groups that make up society as a whole, including the very groups that they charitably help. However, it is a necessary illusion because as former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Mark Moody-Stuart asserts, “Businesspeople…need to be seen as constructive members of society.”
The trance of Radiohead echoes through my ears as I play “Kid A” for yet another time, deep bass notes thumping in my chest. “Everyone is so near, Everyone has got the fear.”
The above lyrics are from Radiohead’s “The National Anthem,” and while listening to Thom Yorke’s computer enhanced voice, something stirs within me. Living in the twenty-first century I’ve seen fear morph into chaos and tragedy through violence. This world rests upon the doubled-edged precipice of uncertain times, with an undefined future looming in the distance. Long building cultural tension has boiled over into international affairs and the delicate harmony of diplomacy, decency, and divinity have been challenged.
The latest threat to this careful balance is the incendiary film “Innocence of Muslims.” Originally shot in 2011, the film has recently gained global notoriety through the aid of YouTube. Written and funded by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, “Innocence of Muslims” is being pegged as a spark behind the recent riots and protests. Specifically targeted for its denigration of Mohammed, there is nothing redeemable about this piece of work. I’m not a film critic, but “Innocence of Muslims” is bad. The movie jumps around erratically, the actors are amateurish, the sound is horrid, and the list goes on. It is obvious, while watching the film, that extensive word dubbing and altering took place, which speaks well to the notion that the actors involved were deceived.
The film is surrounded by mystery and intrigue; and as I began to look further into this movie I learned that most of that intrigue lay in Nakoula. Cindy Lee Garcia, an actor in the film, was duped into believing Nakoula was a man named Sam Basile, who claimed they were participating in an adventure film called “Desert Warrior.” Her request to remove the movie from the internet was denied by a judge, Google also denied a White House request to remove the film. Nakoula, a wealthy Egyptian immigrant with multiple known identities and an extensive criminal record, is now believed to be in hiding; fearing for his life. Yet, while Nakoula hides somewhere safe, thousands across the world are rioting in response to his bigoted film.
In the weeks since the film swept the internet, American flags have been burned in countries such as Belgium and Morocco. Protestors even managed to burn a KFC in Lebanon, because what’s more American than the Colonel? This nonsensical and amateur video offends people across all spectrums, but it specifically aims to provoke a Muslim response. Although the White House has openly denied any involvement with the video, anti-American movements are taking place with increased frequency, most escalating to violence, and there seems to be almost nothing that will abate these attacks for the time being. Either we must work harder to prevent this type of hateful material, or the world must work harder to overcome our fears together. This film crosses the line, without question, but it does not represent the ideas of all Americans. Much like the violent counterpoints to the film do not represent the emotions and thoughts of the entire Muslim population. It is where this line lies that we must come to discuss. Can we, as a global community, recognize “Innocence of Muslims” as a fanatical piece of film? Or are we incapable of doing so because portions of humanity have become more apt to act violently in response to intensifying prejudice and stereotypes?
Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, as many of you have noticed through our neglect, Can the Man was forced to suspend production of material. We here at Can the Man regret that we were unable to provide the content, which has encouraged thousands of readers to visit us on a weekly basis. However, the flame has been rekindled and Can the Man is prepared to move forward in a vigorous campaign against the treachery of the Man.
Currently, at Can the Man, we are in the process of a bold restructuring, which we hope will create a website that will inform and entertain our readers on a consistent basis. This new era will be highlighted by new writers, fresh opinions, and unique angles. The most notable aspect of our revamping here at Can the Man is the addition of the precocious Spencer Santilli who will publish works on a weekly basis, starting this Thursday.
We must gives thanks to you, our valued reader, for continuing to support us as we move forward into this new chapter. With this restructuring we hope to create a more interactive experience for our audience. We would appreciate any ideas as well as any original work you’d like to see posted on the site. The future starts now!