Michael’s Law: efficacious or ineffective?

On July 1st, 2016, Michael’s Law was put into affect throughout the state of Georgia. Essentially, the law puts the rule of “21 and older” into the strictest terms for bars in Georgia. Not only do you have to be 21 years of age to enter a bar, it is now a requirement to be 21 years old to work as a bouncer or as a bartender. The law attempts to crack down on underage drinking and defines a bar as an establishment in which alcohol makes up 75 percent of their total sales.

This law was named after a tragic incident in Statesboro where a bouncer beat Michael Gatto, a Georgia Southern University student, to death. The incident caused many lawmakers to take action. While this law may be comforting to Michael Gatto’s parents, it will not have the intended effect of making young people safer.

To begin, the law, as written, is about four pages long. For anyone unfamiliar with the length of most legal documents, four pages is very minimal length for a law. While it covers the issue of increased insurance and several liquor licenses, if fails to address more specific issues. While attempting to put the law in place a soon as possible, lawmakers seemed to have failed to address how they plan to implement the 21 and up law for workers. For instance, it does not cover how to handle current employees, under 21, who were hired before the law was put into place.

Another issue lies in implementing the law. There are about 80 bars in Athens alone. Does Athens Clarke County plan on covering every single bar and getting to every single employee to check their age? Not to mention the other hundred of bars in the state of Georgia they have to check as well. With the resources they have, it is nearly impossible to cross check every bar in Georgia, which the law calls for. To hold bars responsible for reporting incidents is a great idea, but at the same time there needs to be greater resources allocated if we’re actually going to implement this law.

This whole idea of employment over 21 brings a major question in to play: how effective is it to stop underage drinking if the workers are of age to drink? I can’t speak for everyone, but most people over the age of 18 know how to read IDs. It is simple math using the birthdate on the ID and subtracting from today’s date. Also, I’m pretty sure most 18-20 year olds know what paper looks like – you do not have to be of age to see a paper printed or tape-over ID. It is not like when people turn 21 they can magically spot fake IDs from a mile away – it takes training and a little bit of intelligence, something you don’t have to be 21 years old to have. To have employees in bars that are focused on stopping underage drinking/over serving guests, that requires a sense of responsibility and thorough training from an employer, not an age limit. Not to mention, specifically to Gatto’s incident, the bouncer who killed Michael wasn’t even working at the time – it wasn’t age that was an issue, it was the ego and strength of a drunken patron.

Although putting a stricter law into place can make people feel more secure, more laws don’t necessarily make us safer. Free people, intelligent people will find ways to out smart the system. Putting a stricter law into place increase the possibilities of fake IDs that bars will receive. It punishes adult people and restricts their access, and doesn’t necessarily make anyone safer. Ultimately, this is not going to lessen underage drinking, it is just going to stop them from drinking in bars. This will equate to more house/apartment parties, which brings a very real possibility of an increase in drunk drivers on the road going to and from these parties.

Michael’s law is a valiant effort on the part of the Gatto family. One can only imagine that they are trying to make sense of this tragedy and also to make sure Michael didn’t die in vain, to hopefully prevent this from happening to anyone else. While we grieve for this family, there should have been more thought put in regarding the unintended consequences before lawmakers try to further restrict adults access to adult beverages.

Sources:

“Age Discrimination.” Age Discrimination. Accessed July 27, 2016. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm.

Gatto, Michael. “Georgia State House: Pass Legislation That Will Require Establishments That Serve or Sell Alcohol to Carry General, Liquor and Dram Shop Liability Insurance in Order to Get or Renew a Liquor License, along with Specific Bartender/bouncer Training Requirements.” Change.org. Accessed July 27, 2016. https://www.change.org/p/georgia-state-house-pass-legislation-that-will-require-establishments-that-serve-or-sell-alcohol-to-carry-general-liquor-and-dram-shop-liability-insurance-in-order-to-get-or-renew-a-liquor-license-along-with-specific-bartender-bouncer-training-requir?recruiter=197802771.

“What Is Michael’s Law?” Michaels Law. 2014. Accessed July 27, 2016. https://michaelslaw.wordpress.com/what-is-michaels-law/.

Zauner, Brooke. “New Law Prevents Anyone under 21 from Entering Georgia Bars.” New Law Prevents Anyone under 21 from Entering Georgia Bars. July 1, 2016. Accessed July 27, 2016. http://www.wrdw.com/content/news/Michaels-law-prevents-anyone-under-21-from-entering-Georgia-bars-385264861.html.

Only fools rush in: Tips from a sister.

I’m going to be honest with you; I had no idea what I was doing when I went through rush my freshman year. No one in my family had ever done Greek life and the few friends I had that went through it were rushing at the same time as me. After a rollercoaster of emotions I ended up finding my sisters in an amazing sorority. Over the past two years, I have made lifelong friendships, encountered dozens of opportunities to better myself, and have experienced some of the most fun I’ve ever had through my sorority. Going through rush is such an overwhelming experience, but the outcome is so valuable once you find your home. Although finding my sorority was so worth it, I wish I had been more prepared for rush going in. Here are things to know moving forward.

First of all, don’t go in with any expectations. Greek life in general has a lot of negative stereotypes, and every chapter has a stereotype that goes with it. Don’t pay attention to any rumors you hear. Above all, most negative stereotypes you will hear come from people trying to bash on a specific sorority, not because it’s who they actually are. Go in with an open mind and walk through each house aiming to make friends – you never know which sorority is going to be your new home. Also, don’t go in with any expectations of which Greek family you want to be a part of. Although you have probably done tons of research on every house and know exactly which sorority you want to be a part of, your actual experience is going to be completely different than what you expect. I had my heart set on one sorority and when I went through, it was some of the most uncomfortable conversations I’ve ever had in my life. Just stay open minded and everything will be fine.

Second, don’t worry about all the superficial stuff. When I rushed, I was told if you don’t wear the right shade of a color or didn’t cross your legs a certain way, you were going to get cut from a house. Being on the other side of it now, that is completely untrue. Cuts are a part of the process, but it’s not going to be because you wore the wrong wedges. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that you feel confident in. If you don’t feel like you fit in a house, then it’s probably not where you’re meant to be. Also, don’t worry about talking about the “right things” with girls. The only thing girls are doing by asking you questions is trying to get to know you. They’re not trying to trick you and they’re not looking for specific answers. Also, there are bigger things to worry about for your sorority then the color or symbols they have.

A major thing I wish someone had told me going into rush was to not let yourself be insecure. Cuts from houses are inevitable and it can be heartbreaking. Do not let yourself think there is something you did wrong or you weren’t good enough to be at a certain sisterhood. There is an equation that goes into the process of how you rank sororities and how they rank you, which eventually puts you at a final sorority. A lot of cuts are made simply on the fact that sororities have a few thousand come through rush but each sorority is only allowed to take about 80 or so depending on the year.

Jumping off of that, your sorority does not define you as a person. What is a major support system and a world of fun and opportunity is essentially a resource for you to help you as a person, not a defining symbol of who you will be in college. Sororities do not judge girls by who they are, but by the potential of who they can become. They get that the person you are now is not who you are going to be at the end of your first year of college, and especially not the person you are going to be by the time you graduate. Your sorority is the place where you are going to be held to expectations to help shape you into the woman you want to be. Your sorority is going to be the girls who help you learn and grow and they will be the people you can lean on whenever you need them because that’s what sororities are – sisterhood. If you didn’t get the sorority you planned, chances are you are still going to be the person you are meant to be through a different amazing sorority.

While rush can be overwhelming and emotional, the experience is so worth it. I am in a sorority of unconditional love and support. Because of my sorority I have the chance to pursue my passions and help serve the community. Rush is a rollercoaster, but it is so completely worth it.

 

Up in arms: Debating gun control.

One of the biggest debates argued this summer has been gun control. We’ve watched horrifying instances of police shooting unarmed suspects and also the attacks and killing of police, which has doubled in the last year. Our country is in a state of largely opposing sides and everyone has a stance. While the Democrats are swaying people toward stricter gun regulations, there is an immensely valid argument for a simple, straightforward interpretation of our Second Amendment right. In today’s day and age, with the level of crime in our culture, it is becoming necessary to own a gun, and it needs to remain our legal right.

The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” While many argue the legal meaning of different parts of the phrase, it clearly states we have the right as citizens to own guns. Under this theory, legislative bodies cannot prohibit firearm possession – and with good reason. One of the reasons we have a right to own and use firearms is for our safety.

To put it in the simplest terms, taking away our guns will only take away protection from law-abiding citizens and make them easier targets. Of the last eleven mass shootings in our country, ten were in gun free zones, according to Breitbart News Network. These zones are such where the possession or use of a firearm is considered a crime. Gun-free zones signal to predators that they will be able to act with no resistance and that they can carry out their massacre with no armed citizen to stop them.

The argument for gun regulation is an admirable one – it’s also a very bad idea for the future of our country. To get a drastic change in deaths by firearm, there would have to be a complete disposal of weaponry for citizens. But that would imply getting rid of every single one, which is impossible. Even if that were possible, it would only leave room for a loss of democracy in the states. Think big scale – if we take away all the guns in the “land of the free”, what does that imply for the future of our country? It creates the realistic possibility of our democracy becoming a socialist state: more government control, less power to the people and a more militarized country.

Interestingly, disarming a populous does not make them safer. In the UK, following the ban of guns in 1996, crimes immediately skyrocketed with around a 50 percent increase in homicide rates according to data published by the Crime Prevention Research Center. On a larger scale, look at the history of the 19th Century. According to numbers by the Tea Party Tribune, in 1911 Turkey disarmed its citizens and between 1915 and 1917 they murdered 1.5 million Armenians. In 1929 Russia disarmed its citizens and between 1929 and 1953 they murdered 20 million Russians. In 1935 China disarmed its citizens and between 1948 and 1952 they murdered 20 million Chinese.

I am no pro-gun extremist by any means. By letting citizen’s buy firearms by any means necessary would ensue absolute chaos. Even as a supporter to bear arms, there are regulations that need to be followed and responsibility that needs to be taken to be able to possess a weapon. To own a pistol in the U.S., a citizen needs to be 21 years of age and apply for a concealed carry permit, which requires a background check before being able to purchase a firearm. To mend those regulations, there could be more extensive background checks, but that’s about as far as the control should go. In the countries mentioned above, the encroachment of government on the gun owning rights of its citizens was very gradual. What other grounds do government officials have to say that someone can’t own a gun if that individual is a law-abiding citizen?

Most people who are anti-gun are terrified of guns, understandably. The first time I ever shot a gun was at a gun range with a 22 rifle – a sort of glorified BB gun mostly used for hunting. I was shaking and almost backed out when I first got to the range. Over time, I have shot more guns and am more comfortable with them. Getting over the fear of the weapon by using it in a safe environment has helped me realize that guns are a responsibility, but they are not necessarily something to be feared. It’s like learning to drive a car – it’s a big responsibility, and something that needs time and training and needs to not be taken for granted. But once you know how to safely drive, it becomes less scary and opens the possibility for greater freedom from the dangers of today’s society.

Sources:

“Comparing Murder Rates and Gun Ownership across Countries – Crime Prevention Research Center.” Crime Prevention Research Center. March 31, 2014. Accessed July 23, 2016. http://crimeresearch.org/2014/03/comparing-murder-rates-across-countries/.

Gura, David. “Background Check: What It Really Takes to Buy a Gun.” Background Check: What It Really Takes to Buy a Gun. February 7, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2016. http://www.marketplace.org/2013/02/07/business/guns-and-dollars/background-check-what-it-really-takes-buy-gun.
Hawkins, AWR. “CNN Lists 10 Mass Shootings in Gun-Free Zones on Obama’s Watch – Breitbart.” Breitbart News. July 12, 2016. Accessed July 23, 2016. http://www.breitbart.com/2nd-amendment/2016/07/12/cnn-10-mass-shootings-gun-free-zones-obama/.
“Second Amendment.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Accessed July 23, 2016. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment.
Steyn, Mark. “In the Absence of Guns | The American Spectator.” In the Absence of Guns | The American Spectator. January 11, 2013. Accessed July 23, 2016. http://spectator.org/34133_absence-guns/.

Don’t tell me to smile.

I experienced a very scary moment last Saturday. On my way to work around 10 p.m., I was walking through a back alley in Athens, Georgia. Right as I stepped on the sidewalk, slowly moving closer to more people, a car speeds up behind me and rolls down its window. The man yells at me, “Excuse me miss, could you help me with something real quick?” I stood there frozen for about 3 seconds until my instincts kicked in, and I replied “no,” – I immediately turned and quickly walked towards more people. He commented through his rolled down window just loud enough for me to hear: “Wow. What a pretentious bitch.” I could only keep moving forward.

What was me being a “pretentious bitch,” was a subconscious action I’ve had drilled into my head since I have been able to walk. A strange man comes up to me at night, with a dark car and tinted windows, as I walk alone in an isolated area, and asks for something – anything – to get me near or into his car. The solution is to run. Always run. Get as far away from a possible predator and around more people as soon as possible. To a man, what seemed like a stuck up girl was a survival instinct most women are taught their whole life to survive in this world.

Misogyny is present in our society and the desires of feminism are relevant and necessary for women to survive in this day and age. Feminism is for safety, not women complaining or being high-strung. The average man will argue feminism is overdoing it, but of course men don’t understand our stance – they live in a completely different world. Men don’t understand the terror of walking alone at night or the frustration that owning pepper spray or a firearm is a necessity to feel safe. They don’t know the paralyzing fear of being backed into a corner by someone bigger than you. Even if you have never experienced this, women do every single day. Women stand behind a push for more women in positions of political influence because we live in a nation where 80 percent of Congress is comprised of men, and women don’t get a fair say in issues like gun laws which affect our safety.

Misogyny is real and it has allowed a violent culture against women to become common. Most people don’t realize how deeply present it is in our society. The terms, “you throw like a girl,” and “grow a pair” have become a common part of our patriarchal society and it is an assumption that anything related to women is weak or of lesser value. These subconscious phrases and assumptions put women at a lesser value and continually place women in threatening situations more than men will ever experience or understand. One out of every five American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime and over 63 percent of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or date.

This is why everyone needs feminism. No one should be scared to walk to their car or dress the “wrong way,” and live in fear of getting attacked or harmed because of their gender. The continual violent misogyny against women is a hate crime and feminism is what will bring light to this situation.

Sources:

Coombs, Robyn, and James R. Oelschlager. “PROTECT YOURSELF: KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT DATE RAPE.” Florida Institute of Technology. Accessed July 18, 2016. https://www.fit.edu/caps/documents/daterape.pdf.

“FACTS ABOUT VIOLENCE.” FACTS ABOUT VIOLENCE. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.feminist.com/antiviolence/facts.html.

The problem with ‘heterosexual pride’

A few days ago, a new hashtag on social media platforms began to gain attention. #HeterosexualPrideDay immediately caused a jump in controversy and the digital battles across the web began.

Although the hashtag started as a “joke” to offset the month of June being LGBTQ+ pride month, members of the LGBTQ+ community have taken offense to the hashtag. Heterosexuals don’t battle the fear and shame that their sexuality will be discovered. What started as a fleeting trend on twitter has now become a bigger controversy as members of the heterosexual community have embraced the gain in attention for straight people, and are now defending the trend. But for straight people to appropriate a platform such as Twitter to essentially undermine LGBTQ pride, is blatantly disrespectful.

Their argument lies on the basis of equality. Some heterosexual people believe they should be allowed to celebrate their lifestyle the same way gay people do. They’re allowed to celebrate whatever they want to; this is America. But to appropriate this platform, that a small section of our community is using to overcome their fear, is to denigrate what this vulnerable group is trying to do.

People of the LGBTQ+ community said it wasn’t funny, and it felt like a jab considering it happened right after their Pride month. For them to come out, to announce to a predominantly straight community that they are different, takes courage. While some argued it wasn’t a big deal, the gay community disagreed and said it was disrespectful and the idea behind it was inappropriate. LGBT Pride Month isn’t meant to just be “proud”, but it is to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village that sparked the modern LGBT liberation movement in the United States.

The hashtag was ignorant, inconsiderate and incredibly insulting to gay people, who have fought hard for acceptance in society. Pride month didn’t become a recognized celebration to praise people’s “gayness” but to celebrate existing without persecution due to their sexuality – something heterosexual have never had to deal with.

Simply put, heterosexuals are respected all over the world in ways LGBTQ+ people are not. It is illegal to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in many countries across the world. While some people believe there are bigger issues to conquer rather than focus on sexual discrimination, many are ignorant to the fact that there are over 70 countries that can still punish homosexuality, 10 of which are punishable by death. We had 49 of our LGBT brothers and sisters murdered last month. These innocent people were targeted simply because they were gay. I hope individuals that participated in this Twitter frenzy think about the fact that individuals are essentially coming out as targeted minorities.

A 2015 Gallup Study found that American’s believe over 20% of people they are surrounded by fall into the LGBTQ+ community. In reality less than 4% identify as LGBTQ, in contrast to the 96% of Americans identified as straight in a 2014 study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Those overwhelming numbers suggest that heterosexual people have no threat to their respect the way the LGBTQ+ community does.

It comes down to privilege. Privilege is constructed by dominant groups, which have the power to define what is considered “normal.” It is when one group has something of value that is denied to another individual simply because of the groups he or she belongs to. It becomes relatively easy for people with privilege to be unaware they have this privilege, having never dealt with discrimination based on sexual orientation. So it is easy to understand where some heterosexual people are coming from, but they are too blinded by their privilege to see they don’t need a Heterosexual Pride Day. They have it everyday. Unless you’ve lived with the dread of being exposed as lesbian, gay, etc, it’s easy to laugh off the suffering of these people with a Twiter hashtag. Remember, however, be thankful you don’t have a month to commemorate the challenges that come with a certain sexual identification, and be mindful of the individuals that do.

Sources:

“ALGBTICAL.” ALGBTICAL. Accessed July 1, 2016. http://www.algbtical.org/.

Hafner, Josh. “Why #HeterosexualPrideDay, Which Is Trending Worldwide, Misses the Point.” USA Today. June 29, 2016. Accessed July 1, 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/06/29/why-heterosexualprideday-which-trending-worldwide-misses-point/86508430/.

A generation misunderstood.

It’s so easy to judge what you don’t understand. I think previous generations find it acceptable to compare their memories with our realities. I have a problem when people try to define the millions of individuals in four or five words, especially when these words are negative. Technically a “millennial” is a person who comes of age in the new millennium, essentially anyone born from 1980 through the 1990’s. Currently, upwards of 80 million millennials live in the United States, but they face constant criticism. You can ask almost anyone and you will find a stereotype that goes with the word millennial.

“No generation has been as publicly reviled, praised, misunderstood, and analyzed as the Millennials,” said Shama Hyder, a Forbes contributor.  Millennials are also known as Generation Y. The generations that have gone before us feel free to label us as narcissistic, lazy, uncultured, entitled and that we have no appreciation for the hard work of previous generations. I agree that we cannot fully understand what previous generations have endured. In the same way, older generations cannot understand what it’s like to grow up in a world that is changing so rapidly, politically and technologically— that if you rest for just a moment, you are left behind.

Honestly, how does one even begin to go about stereotyping upwards of 80 million people? Within this generation, so many different types of people and personalities exist, all of which come from diverse backgrounds, different opportunities, relationships and lives. Why is it that older generations feel entitled to stereotype all of us, let alone in a negative way? Being a millennial, this stereotype from our elders is immensely frustrating. Not only because I am one, but because it is completely false.

The assumption that millennials are lazy and entitled is completely untrue. Data compiled by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University, shows that millennial rated “contribute to society,” “correct inequalities” and “be a leader in the community” higher than baby boomers did when they were our age. As an individual, I am constantly busy working at my job, studying for classes, or getting involved in philanthropy through my sorority. The people I am surrounded by (other millennials) are just as involved and hard working as myself, if not more involved and proactive.

In a study done by the White House, it was found that more millennials have college degrees than any other generation of young adults. Millennials were also found more likely to attend graduate school than generations before them. As college students, we know that education is key as we are headed into one of the most competitive eras in history. A college education has become so expensive and few people graduate without debt, having paid for the exorbitant fees that come with a diploma that is quickly becoming the minimum requirement. Most of us have to work jobs in our free time just to get by. Whereas participating in extracurricular activities, internships, volunteer work, leadership and maintaining a high GPA used to be going “above and beyond,” it has now become the bare minimum to land a decent job. Millennials are living through this, and yet somehow we are constantly dodging criticism from generations who think we have it easy.

As for a narcissistic culture, I understand the argument. I have seen a jump in self-involvement among people my age. However, while an older generation finds it easy to judge us as self absorbed, the truth is that technology has left us feeling enormously isolated and lonely. We are running like mad to keep up with normal. As technology advances and we are able to share and absorb tons of information amongst social platforms, it’s no wonder we are more involved and focused on ourselves. That being said, we are also creating more, sharing more ideas and helping others through these supposed “negative” platforms. Because of our introspection, we have higher expectations for who we are as people, and the future we plan to create. Every year millennials create more and more ambitious goals than previous generations.

There seems to be such a lack of compassion for Generation Y. Every generation before us has done exactly what we are doing – creating trends, embracing new technology and taking advantage of what previous generations have provided for us. While I understand our generation may have some generalized weaknesses, to categorize our entire age group in a negative way is destructive, dishonest and unhelpful.

 

Sources:

“15 Economic Facts About Millennials.” The White House. October 2014. Accessed June 24, 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf.

Dorsey, Jason. “The Top 10 Millennials and Gen Y Questions Answered – Finally!” Jason Dorsey The Top 10 Millennials Gen Y Questions Answered Comments. 2013. Accessed June 24, 2016. http://jasondorsey.com/millennials/the-top-gen-y-questions-answered/.

Glassman, Mark. “Five Myths about Millennials.” The Washington Post. August 30, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-millennials/2013/08/30/a6d9a854-ff6c-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html.

Hyder, Shama. “Here’s What You Need To Know About Millennials.” Forbes. March 4, 2014. Accessed June 24, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/shamakabani/2014/03/04/here-is-what-you-need-to-know-about-millennials/#160b6b6e31f0.

Blaming victims of animal violence doesn’t solve the problem.

On Tuesday, June 14, tragedy struck at the Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida when a 2-year-old boy was attacked by an alligator and dragged into the water. Lane Graves’ body was recovered about 16 hours later, only 10 to 15 yards from where the young boy was first attacked.

At the Grand Floridian resort, the Graves family was attending an outdoor movie night. While being watched by his parents, the child waded about a foot into the water when the alligator attacked Lane. Both parents immediately jumped in the water to save their child while the father unsuccessfully attempted to unclamp the alligator’s jaws.

In a situation of such immense tragedy for a family, especially with the devastating shooting Orlando experienced this past week, the overwhelming backlash from the media and the public comes as a surprise to many. A family just lost their child to a natural predator while on vacation where they believed they would be safe, and people have the audacity to blame it on the parents?

It seems as though the Walt Disney Company is largely responsible for this tragedy. For one, people are arguing that there was a “no swimming” sign, but there is a very relevant argument that “no swimming” and “aquatic predator in the water” are two very different warning signs. There are chilling photos going around of other people’s children standing in the same spot in the lagoon where the little Graves’ boy was standing, illustrating that this catastrophe could have happened to anyone.

Why did Disney allow wild, predatory animals to roam freely in areas where they invite hundreds of families to walk by every day? With these predatory animals in close proximity to theme park goers, the possibility of danger exists, so why didn’t Disney warn the families, especially families with small children? Disney spends millions of dollars advertising to families with small children, perhaps money should be allocated to informing families like the Graves from Nebraska, who have no knowledge of alligators. Issuing information to the public about certain precautions to take around these animals while at Disney, could’ve saved a child’s life.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley commented on the occurrences of alligator attacks: “…fortunately it doesn’t happen that often and we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t ever happen again.” Would it not have been better to take them out of the water or provide a barrier for the tourists so this would not of happened in the first place? Unfortunately these words offer little comfort to the Graves family, who is grappling with the loss of their son.

Because of this incident, there is a larger argument to be considered: How beneficial is it to keep animals in captivity for tourists to see anyway? Why do we continue to put animals in unnatural habitats for our amusement and then we are surprised when they attack people? We should be able to create environments that are healthy and comfortable for animals like alligators while keeping humans, especially vulnerable young humans, safe.

A similar event happened only a little over a week before when a mother lost track of her child and he fell into the Gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. While it seemed that the gorilla was protecting the child, the animal was eventually shot and killed to guarantee the child’s safety.

There is an almost universal lack of compassion for either of these families. Both families with vulnerable children found themselves in environments they were unfamiliar with and did not know were dangerous. Moving forward we must, as a society, warn and educate people, and take steps to protect both our neighbors and these natural predators.

Sources:

Ellis, Ralph, and Rashard Rose. “Cincinnati Zoo Kills Gorilla to save Child.” CNN. May 29, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/28/us/zoo-kills-gorilla/.

McLaughlin, Eliot C., Joshua Berlinger, Ashley Fantz, and Steve Almasy. “Disney Gator Attack: 2-year-old Boy Found Dead.” CNN. June 16, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/us/alligator-attacks-child-disney-florida/.

Snowdon, Kathryn. “Disney World Alligator Attack Sees Child Pulled Into Water At Orlando Resort, Florida.” The Huffington Post. June 15, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/alligator-drags-two-year-old-boy-water-disney-world-resort-orlando_uk_5760fe7de4b0681487dc2b23?edition=uk.