You may have heard that a petition was submitted to the White House’s petition site, We the People, to deport Justin Bieber for his recent bout of rowdiness, and that it made the 100,000 signatures needed to warrant a response from the White House. Okay, guys, very funny. We all hate Justin Bieber. Maybe President Obama will have a staffer write a cute response about how he’s worried for Bieber’s safety and hopes the star shapes up because he knows his daughter Sasha is a big fan.
Justin Bieber is not getting deported. We all know petitions are basically meaningless. It’s pretty much the first response anyone has to a petition. But at least it gives you an opportunity to express your opinion and passions, yeah? So why is it that nearly 200,000 people have signed this shit and probably nothing else? For another embarrassment like the Death Star response?
I never thought I would say this about the administration’s transparent attempt to make people feel like they’re influencing policy whilst being fed the party line, but We the People is being misused. Even a site like We the People, which is basically around to make the administration look receptive to your concerns, has a legitimate use. Pushing important but ignored issues to the fore using these petitions allows us to see where these issues stand. The response is rarely or ever a proper response to the petition, but it isn’t meaningless.
Take this answered petition urging Obama to at least legalize marijuana for treating combat veterans’ PTSD. I won’t quote the whole thing, so just read it. In response to “Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD,” the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy says this (simplified): “No, marijuana is dangerous, the war on drugs must continue, we will research the benefits of marijuana to figure out what part of it we can put into a pill.” That’s a big insight into the government’s position, and how much they care about the subject of the petition.
With that in mind, here are some petitions that haven’t reached the 100,000 signature threshold, that might just be more important to get a response to other than Obama making those Bieber jokes he was saving for Letterman.
On July 5, 2011, Orange County police officers responded to a call reporting a shirtless man vandalizing cars in a parking lot. They approached the man, schizophrenic and homeless Kelly Thomas, and “found him ‘uncooperative.'” In order to compel his cooperation, one officer inquired “Now see my fists?” When Kelly responded in the affirmative, the officer continued, “They are getting ready to fuck you up.” The officer’s fists proceeded to beat Kelly to death.
The FBI became involved early in the case, and after the two original officers’ trials for second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and excessive force ended in full-spectrum not-guiltys, the Bureau is examining further to see if they should perform an independent investigation. A successful petition would not compel the FBI to do so, but could inform about just how far police brutality can go before something really gets done.
2. Restore Net Neutrality By Directing the FCC to Classify Internet Providers as “Common Carriers”. (76,849 signatures)
Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s Net Neutrality guidelines, with the explanation that the guidelines can’t be applied to ISPs such as Comcast and AT&T, because they aren’t common carriers.
A common carrier is defined as “a person or company that transports goods or people for any person or company and that is responsible for any possible loss of the goods during transport.” So, like, mail services, phone companies, oil pipelines, and a lot of other stuff that’s indispensable for modern infrastructure. But despite the fact that the internet is basically the same as mail, phone, cable, and really, for all intents and purposes, a series of tubes like an oil pipeline, ISPs are not held to the same FCC standards as every other electronic information avenue.
Because they haven’t yet been classified as common carriers. There’s too much to argue over. “Oh, the internet is different, cause there’s no physical material being transported!” Once again, this country, which is one of the youngest in the West, is tripping over its own untied shoelaces because the language of its laws is too old.
3. Abolish all high stakes testing and No Child left Behind! Testing= Child abuse. Kids test way too much (1,018 signatures)
Alright, this one is probably a victim of the petition title. Still, though. NCLB is some bullshit. The law seeks to hold all public schools and teachers accountable for the performance of their kids. Unfortunately, the way it attempts to do this is by administering standardized tests, and using a hierarchy of “improvement steps” to punish slow progress.
This is a problem for a slew of reasons. First is that some people are just kinda bad at standardized tests. They can do the work assigned in class and get what’s going on, but it isn’t reflected in the test. Second is that schools end up “teaching to the test.” Especially in poorer areas, curriculum is built around getting the kids through the test with a decent score. There’s a high incentive there to ignore the actual development of students and simply attempt to keep the school afloat under the weight of No Child Left Behind. So far, Obama’s solution for this is to issue waivers to states that pinky-swear that they’ll do better. But pinky-swears aren’t being accepted from every state.
4. No longer allow philosophical exemptions for vaccination requirements to attend public schools. (2,596 signatures)
Vaccines seem kind of dangerous, if you don’t know how they work. They seem especially dangerous if some ass-face doctor convinces you vaccinations contain chemicals that could cause autism in your child. There’s a lot of compelling reasons an ignorant person would want their kid to keep that devil magic out of their arm.
But, well, vaccines work. Sometimes they don’t, sometimes they cause a bad reaction, but the overwhelming majority of the time, they prevent whooping cough, and mumps, and a bunch of other nasty diseases that are really embarrassing to admit your kid caught. And the fact is that there’s no recognized link between vaccinations and autism. So, sorry, Jenny McCarthy, if you’re going to make your own child a health risk to their classmates, public schools shouldn’t be forced to take them in.
5. Disregard and Remove The Petiton regarding the want for the Deportation of Justin Bieber (627 signatures)