The United States has been at war in Afghanistan since the fall of my second grade year, and in Iraq for half of the years I have been in school. In all that time, and in all of the years that we watched Channel One News in the mornings, we never saw a casket, never heard about the war dead or the loss of limbs, and only heard about veterans one day a year.

That changed last Tuesday.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all been President of the United States during my schooling, and all three have addressed the nation’s students in the first weeks of school. Clips of these addresses were shown on Channel One, or the existence of the speeches was mentioned in news stories. There was never any controversy.

That changed this September.

This August, we were warned that the President was scheduled to speak to students across the nation, and the news media was full of dire predictions of this unprecedented address. We were originally asked to have our parents sign a form saying that we could listen to the fifteen minute national pep rally for paying attention and focusing on our studies, with the option of spending that time in another room. Then the speech was canceled except in U.S. government classes. Our infantile minds were apparently not prepared to absorb such concepts as hard work and setting goals.

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

And yet, we were apparently sufficiently mature to watch last week’s memorial service from Fort Hood. Without warning and without parental permission, this solemn service and the words of the President and several reverends were shown school-wide, in class.

In my opinion, everyone should be able to go to the same prom.  Gay couples, straight couples, singles, groups of friends, anyone who knows how to wear nice clothes.  Requiring that girls wear gowns instead of tuxedos is discrimination.

17 Year Old Girl Sues, Changes School Policy, And Will Wear Her Tuxedo To Prom

from Jezebel, By hortense

A 17-year-old lesbian in Lebanon, Indiana was all set to go to prom until her principal informed her that the dress code restricted girls from wearing tuxedos, forcing them to wear gowns instead.

The girl, who is not identified due to her age, decided to fight back, suing the school with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, on the grounds that the school’s restrictive dress code was a case of gender discrimination and a denial of the girl’s right to free speech. At first, the school attempted to placate the girl by discussing pantsuit options, but that was soon dismissed, as school officials reversed their dress code standards just four days after the suit was filed, releasing this statement: “School policy for this year’s prom will be that all attendees shall wear appropriate formal attire with no gender-based attire requirements imposed. Female students will be permitted to wear tuxedos if they choose.”

If you click on the article, you can see all the sources that Hortense linked to.

Cassie’s avatarAre you the same person online as you are in the real physical world?

I was once accused online of being an old man who goes into chat rooms naked pretending to be a teenage girl. Ew! Can’t imagine anyone who meets me in person accusing me of that, but it makes me wonder.

Who are the real people behind the names at the blogs where I read and comment? Are they lying about who they are? Their gender? Their age? How would you know? Leave aside the pervs and the creeps, and wonder why people are so different? Probably they don’t like who they are. Are there other reasons?

I am more upbeat and more outgoing online than I am in person. Also more athletic. But I am still me. Are you?

Then again, I meet a lot of “real” people who are much more like avatars than human beings. High school can be like that but so can churches and synagogues. In HS, you understand that we’re all still becoming who we will grow up to be, and so it’s OK to try on new interests and new styles. But new personalities? No thank you!

But there are also a lot of adults, way past 20 or 25 adults, who act more like internet avatars than actual humans. I know someone who calls the Stepford Wives. They’re pretty scary, and sometimes it hurts to find out who the human being underneath actually is.

In 2008 I want to become a little more like my online avatar, and I want her to become a little more like me.