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New laws won’t stop bullying.

In Children and Family, Crime, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on January 26, 2015 at 11:25 am

DIH LOGOOn January 1st of 2015, a new state law took effect in Illinois giving school district officials broader power to investigate accusations of bullying – including cyberbullying – even if the activity took place outside administrative jurisdiction. After word spread of the bill’s passing, some media outlets reported, somewhat mistakenly, that school officials now had the right to order students to surrender social media passwords.

According to a report by The Huffington Post, however, the wording actually says, “that if cyberbullying is reported to the school, school administrators can investigate the claim even if the cyberbullying occurred outside of school hours and buildings.”

The report goes on to explain that a bill which took effect in January of 2014 made it unlawful for school officials to force parents or students to hand over online passwords. Brian Schwartz, general counsel for the Illinois Principals Association, told The Huffington Post, “I think there’s some misinformation about [the new bill], because that’s been on the books for over a year.”

bullying2There is no question that schools need to do more to curtail bullying. But, while all the attention has focused these new laws and free speech infringement, the media, and pretty much everyone else, missed the more important issue. Where are the parents in all of this?

School administrators have always been charged with maintaining discipline within the confines of their educational responsibility. However, it was never intended for educators to police kids after school hours or away from district property. They have neither the manpower nor the training to do so.

Worse still, civil liberties organizations have managed to tie the hands of educators to the point that, eventually, even detention will be a violation of a student’s civil rights. Regardless, the big question remains, when did parents abdicate the responsibility of actually “parenting” to school administrators?

Without question, this is a complicated issue, but the long and short of it is this: maintaining discipline after hours should be up to parents. If people are going to have children, they should be prepared to educate them in ways of civilized behavior and establish consequences if those rules are violated.

If a child is threatening or causing harm to others outside of school, it should be dealt with by parents and local police or other authorities – not the district administration. To repeat, they have neither the manpower nor the training for this kind of work.

Expanded powers like those granted in Illinois might seem like a good idea, but granting investigative overreach to teachers and administrative bureaucrats just seems, on every level, like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Imagine if a dangerous bully skipped through some loophole in the legal system simply because the investigation was handled by amateurs?

Such legislation is a knee-jerk reaction during midterm election season which will result in skyrocketing education costs and, in all likelihood, increased legal expenses for school districts. There is no reason school administrators should have such broad-reaching power outside of their areas of responsibility. Once again, it begs the question, where are the parents?

Instead of focusing on it after the fact, it might be a good idea for more parents to take a look at the problem and take responsibility for the behavior of their children before such events occur. Many parents overlook bullying as normal, growing pains. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, bullying consists of any and all of the following: fighting, threatening, name-calling, teasing, or excluding someone repeatedly and over time, an imbalance of power (such as size or popularity), physical, social, and emotional harm, or hurting another person to get something.  Cyberbullying includes similar issues, but inflicted over social media.

Some parents might ignore some of this behavior as “just kids being kids,” but it’s not. Kids who bully won’t come out and say so and neither will their victims. Bullying is a form of assault and it’s already illegal. New laws and stricter schools are not the solution. It’s up to parents to be more involved and help prevent this terrible problem.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer and distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

WOWA-LD_MASKS_SCREENSHOT

 

Creative people are not predisposed to mental illness.

In Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on December 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm

When it happened, I did not want to be one of the millions of journalists writing about the tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. I wanted no part of the relentless armchair quarterbacking of commentators who so easily claimed to have the man, “figured out.” No one knew what was in his head or heart and pretending to in order to secure 15 seconds of publicity on the morning talk shows is disrespectful on countless levels.

As a kid, “Mork & Mindy” was a favorite television show of mine. Naturally, I was too young to understand that Williams’ extra-terrestrial comic genius may have originated from a man with deep, emotional fragility in a constant struggle with personal demons. However, Williams’ death led to interesting dialogue about whether brilliantly creative people have a higher tendency toward mental illness.

Psychologists have long debated the relationship between the creative mind and various mental illnesses, particularly bipolar disorder.  Personally, I reject the psychobabble that suggests creative people innately suffer from a myriad of mental and emotional disorders.

I’m not a psychiatrist or a physician but I am one of those creative people, albeit that I walk the line to the other side of the brain as well. I can rebuild an engine, write this article, and produce a television segment, all in the same day. But am I, by nature, mentally ill?

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most creative and inventive people in American history. He was a statesman, a writer and an inventor, and there is no evidence to suggest he had any sort of mental illness.

But in today’s era of mass publicity, there are other pressures that can affect the creative mind’s health besides that to produce new work. Anyone who becomes successful or is thrust into the public eye at any level has an entirely different set of stresses to deal with.

From my own, small experience, I can tell you first-hand that, as a public figure, you are expected to be “on” all the time. Because of your public work, people believe they know “you,” and anticipate you to behave a certain way to meet their expectation.

When you don’t, they are disappointed and react negatively. The pressure of not being able to meet those expectations can take a toll on someone who already suffers from self-doubt, depression and other areas where a negative personal image is already prevalent.

Most creative people are in the business they love in order to do a good job at work then go about their lives as normally as possible. Often, however, the public won’t allow it.

Williams’ death serves as a reminder that every creative person is just that, an individual, whether working from their garage or signing million-dollar movie deals. Every day they struggle with the same concerns as you and I, it’s just that the scope of view might be a bit larger or different.

Has anyone considered the possibility that people who already have mental illnesses choose to go into a more creative line of work because it fits their “disability?” It’s no secret that actors and writers tend to be introverted, keep to themselves and often reject the idea of the 9 to 5 job and even general social conformity. Since mental illness isn’t something a person just contracts, like the flu; it’s logical to conclude that it’s got to be in the genetics somewhere waiting for a trigger. Depression and other illnesses can also be affected by the lifestyle of the individual through alcohol and drug use, exacerbating the problem.

Therefore, it is entirely likely that those with mental issues actually choose the more fluid existence of the creative lifestyle early on.  The common absence of structure and responsibility probably plays well into their ever fluctuating mental state.

In other words, it’s a chicken or the egg problem. Are creative people mentally ill (as a generalization), or do the mentally ill choose the more creative path? A great talent was lost in Robin Williams and he was by no means the first. Sadly, regardless of how it comes about, it is unlikely he will be the last.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program

 

 

Propaganda still has power over Americans

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Local News, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, State News, Uncategorized, World News on October 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm

DIH LOGOPolitics and religion both thrive on propaganda, some of it factual, some creatively manufactured. Either way, people will buy into almost anything when you hit them at the gut level. Emotions ride highest when fear is used as the manipulation point.

In 1938, Orson Welles managed to terrify the radio listening public as he destroyed America by Martian invasion in his version of H.G. Wells’, “War of the Worlds.” Of course, it was all a Halloween offering, a prank, “the radio equivalent of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out from behind a bush and saying, ‘boo,’” as Welles put it. But it was, for lack of any other analogy, an hour of “propaganda;” a radio play written to sound exactly like genuine news bulletins, and people fell for it.

According to the dictionary definition, propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, often used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. A deceptive radio broadcast may not be likely to have the same effect today, but if the current Ebola virus scare is any indication, Americans are still far from immune to the effects of well-crafted media spin.

With virtually no qualified medical information being distributed within the propaganda (probably the best word to describe most of the information being circulated), politicians, the media, and the endless barrage of know-it-all cable TV commentators are spreading speculation, misinformation and fear, unabated.

As one might expect, election season has to be one of the most prominent times for the spread of heavy-handed, negative propaganda. Despite laws to limit how “misleading” political ads can be, there is still so much being dispersed that it staggers the imagination of the thinking person as to how it is even allowed.

With fewer people concerned about the accuracy of news reporting these days, believing any blog they run across on Google, media spin no longer needs even to be well-crafted for the masses to fall victim to its intent. There are still, bafflingly, people out there who think that what they see on the news or Internet must be the truth. Not so much “fact,” but truth.

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it's made out to be by politicians and media?

Is the Ebola scare really the menace it’s made out to be by politicians and media?

The spread of propaganda does not require facts but implies truth. Make enough people believe in an idea, factual or not, and it becomes “truth,” at least to those people. Once spread, that truth ends up being the predominant viewpoint and changing the minds of those who fall for it is a challenge, to say the least. Oddly enough, this is the same basis upon which every religion in history has been established.

As pointed out many times in “Deer In Headlines,” decisions are rarely made from factual information but more often based on emotional satisfaction. What makes a person feel good is far more powerful than a list of unemotional statistics. Once again, fear can be one of the most powerful emotions of them all and that is exactly the point.

Without fear, propaganda has much less of an effect. Political propaganda plays on the fear of the voter, suggesting that he or she will suffer under the rule of the opposing candidate – higher taxes, less food on the table, fewer jobs, and so on. In religious propaganda, the fear is purgatory, Hell, or whatever the particular denomination chooses to promote as the reason to show up every Sunday and ante up in the plate as it goes by.

There is, without question, a serious problem concerning the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States. But there is also, sadly, a tremendous opportunity here for politicians to cash in on the fears of those who are probably already paranoid about such things, enhancing the real threat enough to justify the need for such publicity.

Those fifteen minutes of fame come with a high cost, mainly in the stress and emotional trauma experienced by the people who trust their government to take care of them. Avoiding future panic means that people simply need to be cautious about what they take as “fact,” versus what they believe to be “truth.”

 

The Jamestown Comet.com editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Just Say No To Mike DeWine, Finally

In Local News, Politics, State News on October 1, 2014 at 9:35 am

dih-logo-SEMike DeWine has been in the public eye since his days as a Greene County prosecutor.  Part of a high-profile and wealthy Greene County (Yellow Springs) family, DeWine is now seeking re-election as Attorney General of Ohio. While he’s been taking every possible photo-op he can, Ohioans have likely forgotten what he really stands for – which is exactly what he’s counting on.

Richard Michael DeWine was born in Springfield, grew up in Yellow Springs and now lives in Cedarville – reportedly on inherited land. DeWine worked as a Greene County prosecuting attorney during the late 1970’s and was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1980. Since that time he has been in politics as Ohio’s lieutenant governor and spent two terms in the United States Senate from 1995 until 2007.

DeWine’s voting record from his time in congress shows that he believes in curtailing the individual rights of private citizens, particularly their right to own a firearm. Being so vocally against the right to bear arms is an odd position to take considering that gun control is such a hot button topic in Ohio, especially for a Republican. His time as the state’s senior lawyer has been less than stellar.

Given his background, Mike DeWine will continue his fight against the rights of individuals. According to multiple news sources, including CNN, in August of 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, was finally forced to disclose that Ohio driver license photos had been uploaded to a facial recognition database for criminal identification.

According to his statement at the press conference revealing this program, DeWine said, “Misuse of the facial recognition system is a felony offense.” But how can he make a statement like that when there are currently no written rules to govern its use?

According to DeWine, the program allows police to quickly compare photographs of suspects or crime victims to an electronic pool of mug shots and driver license photos in the Ohio database. Comparisons are made of facial measurements from one image to the next in search of a match. The problem with all of this is that it’s been active since June – in secret.

No surprise really, since, while in Washington, he voted in favor of loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping and in opposition to a law preventing employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. Any individual who is so obviously unopposed to deliberate discriminatory action has no business being attorney general.

Since his days as a county prosecutor, he has been against private individuals protecting themselves with any sort of fire arm. He has also constantly made it known that he wants firearm manufacturers to be held accountable for crimes committed using their products. All of this, and yet he is calling for a federal investigation in an effort to overturn the grand jury decision in the Beavercreek Walmart shooting, all to gain points with a African American voters. Shameful doesn’t even cover that kind of act.

If re-elected as the state’s highest ranking prosecutor, DeWine would also be charged with protecting the public against fraud and discriminatory activities. But, as of now, the slick, misleading activities of shell power companies such as Dayton Power & Light’s “DPL Energy” and others like it have gone unchecked. These shell billing companies are unregulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and regularly con the elderly and uninformed into buying into their scam. Dozens of news stories have been done on the problem and DeWine has taken no action whatsoever.

One of the most confusing positions DeWine has taken revolves around immigration. DeWine, who represented a senatorial district where migrant workers are common, voted for building a fence along the United States / Mexico border, while at the same time choosing in favor of giving guest workers an easier path to citizenship. Conveniently, during the incomprehensible process of naturalization, the latter would probably allow greedy, corporate-owned farms to continue paying pennies to immigrant workers while helping to fill DeWine’s campaign coffers.

The record also reveals that DeWine would prefer that people stay as ignorant as possible and that the financially underprivileged are undeserving of a college education. In 2001, he voted against increasing tax deductions for college students. With Ohio’s staggeringly high unemployment rate, one would think that the government would do everything possible to make it easier for people to improve their skills, not limit their potential through nickel and diming beaurocracy.

Any out of work Republicans in Ohio who vote across the party, regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or platform, should remember that Mike DeWine is a trust fund beneficiary (in other words, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth). According to financial statements from the 2004 fiscal year, his assets through DeWine Enterprises, Inc. – the family holdings – were valued up to $5 million and earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year in capital gains.

That would certainly explain why, in February of 2006, DeWine voted in favor of retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends. The former senator is certainly one of very few people in the state who can sit around collecting this kind of “unearned” income. Everyone else has to work for a living – at least those who still have a job.

DeWine will do no more in the coming term than he did in the previous one and, like most career politicians, he spends a great deal of time talking out of both sides of it. He cares only about his thirst for publicity and political glory. It’s time for Mike DeWine to retire – let’s give him a proper send off. Ohio has had enough of him.

 

 Congressional voting records are available at http://www.ontheissues.org.  

Do your homework before voting this election.

In Jobs, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on September 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

DIH LOGOHere we are in election season again, when liberals and conservatives alike spend millions of dollars trying to convince voters to either keep them in office or replace the incumbent.  As always, when they’re not kissing your baby, they’re stealing his lollypop. With so many candidates running who are essentially, “the lesser of who cares,” how will you decide at the ballot box?

A common theme of election strategies is the tired old, “let’s bash the other guy,” method, which is exactly as it sounds. In the months and weeks preceding the election, voters are inundated with television commercials, fliers and post cards all declaring the treachery of the opposing candidate, regardless of the validity of the claims. The goal is to “scare” you away from that candidate for fear he or she will bring about the end of democracy as we know it.

Another popular method of political marketing is the “two chickens in every pot” promise. The goal here is to simply convince you that no matter how you are living now, vote for “me” and I’ll make your life better, and the themes follow trends.

In the years following 9/11, for example, candidates promised better homeland security. After the recession hit, they promised banking reform and more jobs. In reality, however, politicians have little to do with any of that.

When you read about a lower unemployment rate, chances are it’s because many jobless simply stopped reporting their status or benefits have run out. Unemployment numbers fluctuate, organically, not because some politician changed the face of the workforce with the swath of a pen. Please try to keep this in mind: government does not, has not, and never will create jobs in the real world. Regardless of how much they hype job-creating policies, no politician can create jobs in private industry.

Probably the most famous photo of Truman. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Probably the most famous photo of Truman. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

In fact, the majority of political interference just impedes business and slows workforce development – unless you have a nice, fat check to send them at election time. Then you get all the help you want until your money runs out.

The rest of the time, business owners must contend with the result of what these self-serving bureaucrats do best. Invasive regulations, ever-increasing taxes and other legislative roadblocks usually just muck up the works and prevent small businesses from growing – or hiring.

Local government interference can make things even worse, because that’s where the real decisions are made. When local politicians have a “pal” in a particular industry and a competitor comes in to try to set up shop, it can be harder to get official processes pushed through, like location approvals, licensing, and so on. It does happen, and far more often than you might think.

What gets even more annoying is the level to which some politicians try to convince people they are “regular folks,” when most of them are millionaires many times over. Great examples are Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Congressman John Boehner, and many of their compatriots, on both sides of the aisle, each of whom are super-wealthy and many up for re-election. None of them have a clue what it would be like to have to survive paycheck to paycheck like so many of their constituents.

Whatever the ploy, a politician is a business selling a product in the same way that any company would try to get you to buy their brand of soap or corn flakes. It’s all marketing, and knowing that people make political decisions emotionally rather than based on any logic or facts, the more frightening the ad campaign the better.

The same goes for choosing to approve or deny the various ballot issues. Just because they send kids to bang on your door with big sad eyes and a long sad tale of how the children will suffer without passing a tax increase (while the kid has no idea what they’re shilling for, because they’re kids), that doesn’t mean you should pull vote “yes.”

Best advice, ignore the advertisements. If every voter did a little homework on the candidates and issues instead of voting a party line or from fear or guilt, there would be a marked improvement in the quality of our leadership.
The Jamestown Comet.com editor / publisher, Gery L. Deer, is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

Fire House Poker Run to benefit child victims of domestic violence

In Charities, Children and Family, Entertainment, Local News, State News, Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm

IMG_7297On Saturday, July 19, motorcyclists will have the opportunity to participate in the first annual Fire House Poker Run to benefit the “Shoe Barn Project,” a fundraising effort to provide new shoes for children who come through the Greene County Children Services or The Family Violence Prevention Center. Registration begins at 10:30 AM for $15 per bike at Buckminn’s D and D Harley Davidson at 1213 Cincinnati Avenue in Xenia.

With kickstands up at noon from Buckminn’s, participants will ride from one fire house to the next, enjoying the unique look and atmosphere of each and actually driving through several of them as if they were covered bridges.  After a long, scenic tour along the Greene County countryside, including Cedarville, New Jasper, Silvercreek, Jefferson, Xenia and Spring Valley Township fire departments, the ride will conclude at Willie’s Bar in the Xenia Towne Square with an after party featuring gift raffles and entertainment by the Just-N-Time band. Willie’s will be donating 10 percent of sales to the fundraiser.

The first annual Fire House Poker Run is an event organized by First Responders And Bikers Advocating Against Abuse (FRABAAA). According the FRABAAA’s mission statement, the group is, “committed to empowering, educating, advocating, as well as facilitating victims of abuse and violence to become survivor, one HERO at a time.”

IMG_7293Shella Baker is the organizer of FRABAAA. “After helping kids and families who lived in The Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County (FVPC) what we noticed each year was that, even above toys, children were asking for shoes,” she says. “This really struck me as such a basic need; it was surprising that a lot of children would even think about asking for shoes at Christmas.”

“This past April, during child abuse awareness month, we had a shoe drive with local hospitals and fire departments as well as Samaritan Crisis center and Xenia Walmart,” she says. “We collected shoes to start what has become known as the Shoe Barn Project to benefit the kids housed at the center.”

Supporting the FVPC is a personal mission for Baker, a nurse and paramedic who sees, first hand, the devastating toll domestic violence can take on a family. But Baker’s actions are driven from a much more personal experience – as a survivor of domestic violence. Twenty-five years ago, she and her son took refuge at the FVPC to escape an abuser and now she wants to give back. Today, she has joined with fellow first responders to advocate for victims and promote awareness and prevention, the poker run will help support that cause.

The FVPC began in 1979 as a project of the Greene County Welfare Department known as the Greene County Domestic Violence Project. It started out as a simple, two-bedroom apartment in Yellow Springs but the agency has evolved to provide support and education through services such as a 24-hour crisis hotline and safe housing as well as prevention and outreach programs.

Today the agency is located at 380 Bellbrook Avenue in Xenia and is certified by the Council on Accreditation. It was also recently renamed, The Kathryn K. Hagler Family Violence Prevention Center, to honor the late Greene County leader’s service in advocacy of families and children.

“When FRABAAA started the Shoe Barn Project we wanted to reach out even further to help all kids in the system that have been victims of abuse,” Baker notes. “We hope to one day have a huge operation to help not only Greene County but counties across the state and Country. To make that happen, we need to get more communities on board.”

FIRE_HOUSE_POKER_RUN_1Riders in the poker run will get to actually drive through the fire stations at Cedarville, Xenia and Spring Valley, with a snack stop at the Jefferson Township station in Bowersville. Awards will be given for first, second and third place hands and a Fire House award for the worst hand. For more information about the poker run, visit the group website at http://www.frabaaa.com or call Shella Baker at (937) 789-7262. If you are in immediate need of help in a domestic violence situation, call the center’s crisis line at 937-372-4552 or 937-426-2334.

“When FRABAAA started the Shoe Barn Project we wanted out  reach out even further to help all kids in the system that have been victims of abuse,” Baker notes. “We hope to one day have a huge operation to help not only Greene County but counties across the state and Country. To make that happen, we need to get more communities on board.”

Riders in the poker run will get to actually drive through the fire stations at Cedarville, Xenia and Spring Valley, with a snack stop at the Jefferson Township station in Bowersville. Awards will be given for first, second and third place hands and a Fire House award for the worst hand. For more information about the poker run, visit the group website at www.frabaaa.com or call Shella Baker at (937) 789-7262. If you are in immediate need of help in a domestic violence situation, call the center’s crisis line at 937-372-4552 or 937-426-2334.

Watch the full video interview on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton.

IMG_7290

 

ATVs are not toys for young children

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Health, Local News, Opinion, Sports News, State News, Uncategorized on July 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

DIH LOGOSince 1982, there have been nearly 400 Ohio deaths related to the operation of ATVs, short for “all terrain vehicles.” Like any other power machine, the ATV is a safe, versatile vehicle when handled properly by responsible adults, yet their operation is far too often given over to small children.

According to statistics collected between 1982 and 2012 by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been, nationally, 2,944 ATV-related fatalities of children younger than 16 years of age and 43 percent of them were younger than 12. The CPSC also states that children 16 and under comprised 24 percent of the total number of ATV related deaths.

Unfortunately, these machines are not being treated like the dangerous power equipment they are but instead as if they are children’s toys. It’s not uncommon to see very small children riding these powerful four-wheelers (and there are still a few three-wheelers out there). Any responsibility for accidents must be laid firmly on the shoulders of the parents as well as those legislators who can’t be bothered with increasing safety regulations on these devices.

Currently, age restrictions on ATV operations in Ohio are, in this commentator’s opinion, far too lenient, and logically inconsistent. For example, as of 2014, the Ohio law states that, “to operate an ATV on public lands, one must have a driver’s license or motorcycle endorsement. The Department of Natural Resources may permit a person at least 12 (years of age) to operate on Department land if accompanied by a parent.”

In the next section the regulations state, “No one under 16 may operate an ATV unless on land owned by a parent or accompanied by an adult 18 or older.” It’s as if, in one regulation, the legislators acknowledge the dangers involved in operating these machines and that people should be qualified, licensed drivers. But in the other, just having a parent there qualifies the kid to be behind the handlebars.

When children operate these machines there are two issues to consider: Experience and size. A licensed driver will have had some training and experience behind the wheel and be at least somewhat more experienced than someone who has never operated a motor vehicle. Arguing also that a farm kid can handle it because of tractors and other equipment is ridiculous too. There is a big difference between disking a field and popping wheelies down a hillside on an ATV.

Additionally, as stable as they may seem, to keep all four wheels on the ground, an ATV requires a certain amount of bulk in the form of the rider. Shifting the weight from side to side, similar to riding a bike, is necessary and aids in steering and stability.

A small child of 6 or 7 years old, and maybe 60 pounds on the outside, simply does not have enough mass or strength to control the machine, regardless of its size. Even the smallest of these vehicles is powerful enough to cause a serious accident if not properly controlled and no safety switch or oversized helmet can outmatch the common sense of not letting a little kid ride it in the first place.

The overturned ATV in the Crooked River.Liability is another major consideration. Without getting into the legal issues, it goes without saying that America is a litigious society and special endorsements are required on insurance policies to cover liability issues related to ATV operation. Even if there is insurance, the parents of an injured child can still sue the owner of the ATV or the property where the accident took place.

In the end, the question must be asked, “Is a few minutes of joy riding on an ATV worth risking the safety or perhaps the very life of a child?” For more information, download a complete copy of Ohio’s current ATV laws: OhioATVLaw

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.gerydeer.com.

It takes a maverick to make a difference

In Education, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on March 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

DIH LOGOAccording to one definition, a maverick is, “an unorthodox or independent-minded person.” But a maverick is also someone who chooses not to give in to the pressures of society, breaking ranks, not for personal gain, but in an effort to improve conditions or expand knowledge for everyone.

In the 16th Century, the now revered scientist Galileo Galilei would certainly have fit the definition of maverick. At a time when the church kept tight control over the public’s understanding of the world around them, Galileo’s challenge that the earth was not actually the center of the universe but instead part of a solar system with our sun at its center was controversial.

Of course he was eventually proven right, but standing against such a powerful entity as the Catholic Church sent Galileo to be tried for heresy. There are countless cases like this throughout history, most related to individuals who chose to challenge long-standing beliefs in politics or religion.

Today, as in Galileo’s time, society is taught and expected, from an early age, to keep quiet; never to upset the status quo for fear of retribution. Those willing to stand up and be heard shape the most change in the world, but often pay a high price for their contribution to progress. Much of what society deems acceptable is dependent on one’s position and the sphere of influence there encompassed.

whatsrightFor example, it is unacceptable in many religious groups for a married couple to divorce. They are expected to remain together indefinitely for the good of the church, their families and so on, regardless of the situation, even in cases of physical abuse. It stands to reason, therefore, that the first few individuals who challenged these rules were certainly dealt with harshly. Fortunately, over time, this type of censure has eased somewhat, at least publically.

On the whole, it is difficult to greatly influence public perception and alter the behavior of a society or to get people to remove the blinders of ideology and accept the possibility that there are other ways of thinking. Ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding usually lead to fear and resistance.

It should also be made clear that religious groups are certainly not alone in such ridiculously judgmental behavior. Anyone who challenges established norms can find themselves on the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant retribution, particularly in the workplace.

Often employees are never to question authority or decisions made by their superiors, otherwise face reprisal. But what does one do when superiors are actually breaking the law? In 1989, Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act. The law is designed to shield workers against retaliatory personnel action – meaning, essentially, it keeps them from being fired – for “blowing the whistle” on illegal activities perpetrated by their employers.

Unfortunately, there is no such protection for the everyday person who simply wants to do the right thing. From Moses and Lady Godiva to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, taking a stand to alter deeply engrained social beliefs has never been a task for the weak-hearted.

Most people are discouraged by how much retribution might be taken out on them for going against the grain. Sometimes, however, just standing up for the little things can help to affect larger changes. Making a difference in the boardroom, at school or even in the hallowed halls of church might ruffle some feathers, but if the purpose is worthwhile, it would be wrong not to do something.

So, what about those by-standers who agree with the maverick but are afraid to stand with her? If only one other person supported the cause then another would as well, then another, and another. That’s how revolutions are started in the face of resistance. So the next time you see an injustice being done and you have the opportunity to act, what will it be: Maverick or conformist?  Ω

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to the WDTN-TV2 program, “Living Dayton.” More at www.gerydeer.com.

Arizona legislature emanates ignorance, prejudice

In National News, Opinion, State News, Uncategorized on February 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm

DIH LOGOArizona has done it again. The overwhelming level of prejudice and stupidity emanating from the state’s lawmakers seems to have no limit. On February 20th, the Arizona state legislature managed to push through a bill that would make it legal for businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the basis of, “religious freedom.” Proponents of the bill say that it provides business owners with the right to manage their establishments according to their own religious values.

Apparently the desert heat has affected their memories. This certainly has the familiar ring of southern life prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s when signs read, “Whites Only” at every restaurant and water fountain. Open, hateful discrimination was touted as religious or moral freedom back then as well.

It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking this was a good idea and how in all that is holy did these people manage to get elected in the first place? If Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is already known for her racist positions, signs this bill into law, she is setting a sickening precedent, pushing back more than 100 years of civil rights progress in this country.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. (AP Photo)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. (AP Photo)

The day after the bill passed, Brewer was in Washington for the governors’ summit and told CNN, “I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with. But I don’t know that it needs to be statutory.”

“In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested,” Brewer continued. “That’s America. That’s freedom.” Clearly, she is all in favor of freedom so long as it’s not extended to people of whom she and her legislative thugs disapprove.

For those who don’t see a problem with giving these folks the legal right to limit service based on this kind of ignorance, imagine the shoe on the other foot for a moment. What if someone passed a law stating a business could refuse service to Christians, again, on the basis of religious or moral freedom? The religious right would literally lose their minds. Of course, this isn’t the first time this kind of law has been passed in a democratic society.

In early Nazi Germany, the eradication of Jews began with laws like this, allowing open discrimination and eventual persecution. In America, minorities and women have only recently emerged from a 200-year limitation of civil rights, often enforced in the name of religious morality, and the fight is still going on in many respects.

In theory, everyone is protected from this kind of legislation, at least on the federal level, by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It says, in part, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

It’s just a guess, but if it passes, Arizona’s law would most likely be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court at first challenge. Even to the layperson it seems to openly violate the 14th and would be determined to be unconstitutional. The problem is that the argument shouldn’t have to go that far for people to see that the bill is unethical.

At last report, Governor Brewer was seeking the counsel of her advisors in order to make up her mind whether to sign the bill into law. Hopefully one of her close cronies is a constitutional law attorney or, at the very least, someone who is not so blatantly ignorant and prejudiced. And if, for some bizarre reason, there are Christians out there who feel this law is just, remember this: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 7:12. One can only hope.

 

Gery L. Deer is editor of The Jamestown Comet.com an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at gerydeer.com