The unattainable ‘American Dream’ behind US mass shootings crisis


Saw this article by Sarah Kaplan from The Washington Post on the Stuff website today and found it really interesting. Worth reading if you are revising American Beauty.

On 23 August, criminal justice professor Adam Lankford stood in front of a crowd of sociologists to explain how American culture contributes to the all-too-frequent American mass shootings. It’s not just that we have a lot of guns, he said – though he does believe that the high rates of firearm ownership are partially to blame. It’s the social strains of American life – the false promise of the American dream, which guarantees a level of success that can’t always be achieved through hard work and sheer willpower; the devotion to individualism and the desire for fame or notoriety.

Millions of Americans feel these strains and never commit a crime. But for a small handful, they breed the kind of resentment and fury that can explode into violence.

Read the rest here.


Back to the blog


I think the great Google Classroom experiment is over. It started well and it was fun when we didn’t have to scroll down to infinity to find what we wanted. Yes, it drove me crazy too, so I have listened and now that we are at the business end of the year I will only post on here. Your inbox will be free from bombing and we can all agree that we will not speak of this again!

Follow this blog if you want to keep up with my posts. Don’t if you don’t. It’s a free world man.

‘Last Week’ … on John Key

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Something topical for a column. Check this video out (follow the link).

John Oliver weighs in on John Key’s rather ‘spectacular’ week of ponytails and pinot noir – catch the full episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver at 10.20pm on SoHo!

Posted by SoHo on Sunday, April 26, 2015

Feminism and Paul Henry


We are beginning our column writing task next week and I am going to start off by looking at the writing of Caitlin Moran who wrote ‘How to be a woman’. Follow this link to her views on being a feminist. One of the things we will discuss next week is using topical examples and issues for inspiration. Paul Henry has provided us with one today.

Henry caused controversy on his tv/radio show by expressing his view that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be campaigning on ‘the first woman president’ card. The NZ Herald reported that Henry said: “Why, if feminism has come so far, does she feel the need to highlight the fact that she’s a woman? Shouldn’t she be selling herself on the fact that she’s the best person, the right person, for the job, no matter what her sex?” Henry went on to say that other high profile females had “fallen into the same trap” – including Helen Clark’s bid to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. Henry continued with, “Don’t these women realise feminism has come further than they have?”

The Human Rights Commission countered Paul Henry’s view by declaring his attitude towards feminism as “wrong”. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue took aim at Henry’s comments and wrote this letter:

Dear Paul,

You are wrong. Feminism hasn’t come further than Hillary Clinton and Helen Clark, feminism will only ever go as far as they and other women go.

On your show today you argued that feminism has come further than Clinton and Clark, two women who are campaigning respectively for roles as the United States President and Secretary General of the United Nations. Clinton has voiced her ambition to become the first woman US President and you saw this as an outdated thing to say. It isn’t.

Feminism is a belief that gender should not limit anyone’s chances at life and quite frankly people are deluded if they believe women currently get the same opportunities as men to make it in business, politics and the like.

If we have come as far as you say we have why has female representation in our Parliament been stuck at around 30% since the first MMP election in 1996? Why did it even go backwards at the 2014 election? Why is the percentage of female directors on the NZX listed companies a paltry 14%? Why is it that there is a persistent mean pay gender gap in the labour market of around 14 %?

Only yesterday lawyer and international public servant Vicky Robertson was announced as the Ministry for the Environment’s new chief executive, however the headline just described her as a “Former Hockey Player”. I can’t help but wonder if this headline would have been the same if she were a man.

There is a lot of work to be done.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Jackie Blue

EEO Commissioner

To All the Little Black Girls With Big Names

Really interesting piece of performance poetry by Sha’Condria Sibley. A very powerful response to the way some people respond to her ‘ghetto name’. She makes us question the way names can be used to stereotype, to judge and to shame.

“But, you see, a book can’t be judged by its cover nor its title, and the story beneath your name can’t be contained beneath the tide.”

Column Task

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I have added the column task and supporting material to Google Classroom as requested. It has been heartening to see how many of you are working on your English studies in the break. Message me if you need further information or help.

Check out this post to find out more on writing a column and go here and here for a couple of columns to read.