Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hot Topics for a Special Lecture Series

Student Jennifer Erickson recently attended one of a series of Honors program lectures. This one was a  red-hot topic. Here's her report:

On September 10, 2012, I was present for the lecture by Dr. Michael Lenz on “The American Police State”. Dr. Lenz is a new, full-time, political science professor, and he is very interested and spirited about the state of our nation. I found his lecture to be extremely engaging, informative and I eagerly anticipate his next event.

Dr. Lenz asked an important question: is America a “police state,” which he described as the gradual or rapid expansion of government controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population, and then asked if we are not already - are we headed that way?

Dr. Lenz described many different laws that have been passed sometimes with and sometimes without the consent of all branches of government and, in some cases, like the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001, only one out of 100 congressmen actually read the proposal and that one person didn’t sign it. I say sometimes without consent because the President has the ability to enforce Executive Orders, laws that he deems important and skips the process of checks and balances through Congress. While this is not constitutionally legal, many presidents in the past have enforced it.
The most shocking bills, to me, were the NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 - which states that citizens who are suspected of terrorism can be detained indefinitely
and The Enemy Expatriation Act of 2012 which says that engaging in or supporting hostilities against the U.S. gives the government the right to strip Americans of their citizenship.
The problem that Dr. Lenz pointed out with most of these bills is not the law they create but it is the language they use; the wording is vague and leaves room for individual interpretation.

Some of the other laws that were discussed were the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a wiretapping program called “Stellar Wind,” the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, Communities Against Terrorism Program, FAA Re-authorization Act of 2012, and SOPA: Stop Online Piracy Act.

If you are like me and feel a little out of touch with the decisions that our government has made recently, researching these different laws would be a great place to start in your re-immersion into American politics. The names of them don't really tell you what they enable the government to do.

I look forward to the next installment of Dr. Lenz’s lecture “Tweedledee and Tweedledum - The Two Party System” on October 10. There will also be a panel discussion on November 7 on “Debating the Draft” with Dr. Lenz and Dr. Carol Bucy and on November 14 Dr. Lenz will discuss the “War on Drugs”. Mark your calendars, folks, these lectures are not to be missed!

-Jennifer Erickson

September 17
Dr. Pimentel –History Department
“Lincoln and Emancipation” – Mattox 104
September 26
Prof. Parris Powers  -Science Dept
"Sustainability: A Social Imperative” -
Carpeted Dining Room
October 10
Dr. Michael Lenz
Political Science Department
“Tweedledee and Tweedledum –
The Two Party System” – Mattox 104
October 24
Dr. Clark Hutton Philosophy Department
“Plato and Aristotle Go to the Polls.” -
Carpeted Dining Room
November 7
Panel Discussion
“Debating the Draft” -   
Caudill Hall Auditorium
November 19
Dr. Michael Lenz Political Science Department
“War on Drugs” –
Carpeted Dining Room
December 5
Honors Students
Honors Contract Presentations -
Pickel 118
All Presentations are free and open to the public.  Lectures are held between 12:30-1:30 PM.  Lecture topics are subject to change.
Volunteer State Community College


dianewordsmith said...

I've had the privilege to meet Jennifer Erickson. She is a bright and insightful young woman -- wise beyond her years. I look forward to hearing from her in the future!

dianewordsmith said...

I've had the privilege to meet Jennifer Erickson. She is a bright and insightful young woman -- wise beyond her years. I look forward to hearing from her in the future!