Omnium Gatherum

CAB, Inflation, and Christmas

Jacob Akey, Crier Staff

Kudos to the Campus Activity Board. It bears repeating that the Campus Activity Board here at Saint Anselm College does a fantastic job organizing engaging events. Recently, I attended their CABrunch event. It was a reminder of just how good a job the group does.

Inflation in America has hit the highest rate in the past 30 years with gas prices, supply chain crises, and a worker shortage all ganging up on consumers. The White House claims the inflationary bout is “transitory,” but many economists disagree. Real wages are not keeping up with rising costs, and the problem has spread from the gas pump and car dealership into the wider economy. Retail gas prices are up 50% from this time last year. Increasingly, it feels like administration efforts to stomp down on the fossil fuel industry are pressing their boot on the economy’s jugular. There is something to be said for energy independence and a robust domestic supply line. Joe Biden, apparently, disagrees.

When does the Christmas Season start? Someone in my dorm put a Christmas wreath up at the start of November, sparking the perennial date over when it was appropriate to start decorating and playing Christmas music. Many in my hall are hardliners. They restrict yuletide cheer to after Thanksgiving. American retailers, on the other hand, seek to move the Christmas celebration into August. That is too early; I think most of us have grumbled at decorations for sale before students go back to school. My position is somewhere in the middle. Decorations should be post-Thanksgiving, but Christmas music can be played after Halloween.

There is a thin line between political voyeurism and a well-intentioned enjoyment of the oft-dramatic process. As a long-time news junkie, I have often asked myself about the morality of consuming politics for pleasure. When I speculate on a bill’s passage for fun, others are watching that same legislation to see if their livelihoods will be destroyed. I would like to think that I fall on the right side of that fuzzy line between right and wrong. Even if the morality of politics-as-entertainment is uncertain, things get clearer at the extremes. For example, judicial proceedings, especially those dealing with the loss of human life, should not be entertainment. Therefore, using criminal court cases as reality TV is depraved and threatens to warp judicial independence. America and its 24/7 news cycle have long been fascinated by the macabre: Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, and George Zimmerman are all examples of criminal prosecutions turned mass entertainment. Using real death and suffering as a stand-in for “Survivor” or “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is perverted. Have we not progressed since the days of gladiators? The attention that these cases get also threatens to poison the jury pool and unduly influence judges. Judicial independence is not something that should be treated so cavalierly.

The most recent of the “popular” trials is the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse for his actions during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He shot three men, killing two. I understand that many have strong feelings about the trial and its outcome. But obsessively following the trial will not, nor should not, have any impact on the outcome. It is wrong to treat the death of our fellow Americans as anything other than an avoidable tragedy. Even if you believe that Rittenhouse acted justifiably in self-defense, two men are dead. Even worse than those who use the trial as entertainment are those who seek to profit off it, either financially or through social capital. It is impossible to consume US media today without running into deranged hot-takes about the presiding judge’s personal politics. If there is a concern about impartiality, it should be handled by the prosecution via an appeal. Twitter speculation is inappropriate. We should leave it to the jury to make the correct decision.