Category: Opinion

Elephants suffer for human entertainment

by: MALLORY CARVER/ News Editor

Zoos and circuses provide a popular form of entertainment for families.

To society, nothing is more precious than watching an unhappy animal—which has been excessively mistreated—being held captive for the public’s entertainment.

Many people have seen the documentary movie, “Black Fish” and have been enraged by the mistreatment of aquatic animals. But whales are not the only animals that have been incredibly mistreated by humans. Elephants, one of earth’s most fascinating and intelligent animals, have been mistreated as much—if not more— than our captive aquatic animals. We, as the captors, must stop keeping animals as sources of entertainment.

We have all heard the expression, “memory like an elephant.” In fact, it has been proven that elephants do indeed have an almost uncanny ability to remember. Trainers who have abused their elephants are unlikely to ever regain the trust of their giant trainee. Nearly every elephant in captivity has a deep, and troubling story to tell.

The caretakers at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, know this better than most. This non-profit organization is well-known for providing a home for elephants that have been either been labeled as useless, or as unmanageable by their former owners. The sanctuary is a home to many elephants that have been exposed to abuse in their lifetime. They are able to escape to this sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives in peace—on approximately 2,700 acres of land. One of the residents at the Hohenwald Sanctuary is an Indian Elephant named Billie.

Prior to settling down at the sanctuary, Billie was sold to the Hawthorn Corporation. The Hawthorn Corporation was known to buy and train elephants to later sell to zoos and circuses. As Billie suffered through more and more abuse at the hands of Hawthorn, she became more and more violent toward her trainers.

As punishment for her violence, Billie the elephant, part of a highly sociable species, was held in isolation from other elephants. Hawthorn was later charged with the mistreatment of their elephants. This is how Billie came to live at the sanctuary in February of 2006.

When she arrived at the sanctuary, she had a shackle around one of her legs that she had allowed no one to remove. It took nearly five years for Billie to allow her caretakers at the Elephant Sanctuary to remove her remaining trace of a past spent in abuse.

At the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Billie is one of many elephants with a dark past. Most of the elephants seen in captivity were born in the wild. That means that all of those elephants had a chance of freedom. Unfortunately, humans ruined it, like we do so often.

Elephants are not the only animals that have been taken advantage of by people. Many animals are torn from their mothers and habitat at a young age in order to provide entertainment for people.

The mistreatment of innocent creatures must come to an end. It is not morally acceptable for a young animal of any kind to be torn from its mother at a premature age. Society has the power to stop funding organizations that ruin the lives of animals. It is as simple as refusing to endorse places where animals are kept on display for entertainment purposes. Maybe, in the future, the only place to see wild animals will be in their rightful place — their natural habitat.

Banning books puts unnecessary limits on literature

by: RACHEL MEANS/Staff Writer

Book banning has been going on for years.

Schools have been forbidding the teaching of books for almost as long as they have been requiring reading. From Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” to John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” any book that can be perceived as offensive, in any way, is likely to be challenged.

The question, of course, is should they be?

As far as I’m concerned, the answer is a firm, resounding “no.” The thing about literature, good literature at least, is that it reflects real life. Anyone older than the age of 10 can tell you that real life is anything but wholesome. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies; it’s rough and uncertain. How can we fault a book for reflecting what we see every day with our own eyes?

Then you take into account the fact that many of the most frequently challenged books are those that focus on important topics. Issues such as racism and homophobia need to be addressed plainly and openly. But the minute an author broaches a sensitive subject, he or she falls under fire. They can’t talk about racism because then they will have to create a racist character. Heaven forbid a child should be exposed to such a thing, never mind the fact he or she will undoubtedly meet at least one racist person in real life before leaving high school.

A good example of a book that exists to make a point is the novel “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins. This book is the story of a girl whose life falls apart after she gets addicted to drugs. I read it when I was around 12, and it did more to keep me away from drugs than any school seminar ever could. Yes, the book goes to some dark places, and, at times, it’s uncomfortable to read. But I am immensely grateful that I had the chance to read it. It gave me a look into a world that I lived next to my whole life but had never seen up close before.

Another great example of important but uncomfortable literature is Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” This book is by far one of the most banned books in history because of its continued use of racial slurs. But think about its setting. It makes sense for the story, never mind the fact that the whole book is about racism.

It’s the job of adults to teach their children about the world. How can we expect to raise healthy, intelligent, well adjusted people if we shelter them from any and all unpleasantness? Books are a safe way to learn the ugly truth about the darker parts of our world. They don’t have to be discriminated against to understand discrimination; just let them read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and they will get it.

Gender irrelevant when fighting for country

by: CHESANIE BRANTLEY/Editor-in-Chief

For a hundred years, women have been fighting for true equality.

The Pentagon opened up another door for women all around our country in 2013 when the schedule for integrating women on the front lines of combat was announced.

Before June of 2013, there were hundreds of thousands of jobs in the military that were off-limits to women. Defense secretary Leon Panetta opened jobs in the infantry, and armor and social operations, among others. Tests were made that are gender neutral so that men and women alike will have to pass to qualify for a combat role.

Another issue that arose with the ruling from the Pentagon was the concern of standards being lowered to allow women to do the jobs that opened up. This should have never been a concern in the first place. There is no reason for standards to be lowered. If anyone wants a job, he or she will be willing to work to get it. The Pentagon has been planning on integrating women into the front-lines of combat in 2016.

The big question everyone is still debating, as the beginning of 2016 nears, is should women be allowed to fight on the front-lines?

For women to achieve true equality, then I absolutely believe we should be able to fight on the front-lines. I know I have had people tell me, “You are more than likely going to have to sign up for the draft; are you ready for that?”

YES, I am ready for that! Please give me a card, like every other male who turns 18 has received, to sign up. As a woman, I want true equality. That means doing everything a man does, just as he does it. Not an easier version, like “girl push-ups,” where your knees are on the ground and it is OK. True equality is being side by side with men.

I really do not see why this is even a debate.Those who oppose the ruling apparently do not want women to have the same job opportunities in the military, or for them to fight on the front-lines. Why? Because they are women?

One of the recent arguments I have seen is women are not biologically built as well as men are for combat. Yes, I will agree that most women are smaller than men. But would that not benefit the military? Some women can fit in smaller areas. Most women are also lighter, therefore quieter on their feet. Seems like a win-win to me.

Women are already being put in combat zones and fighting for our country, just not on the front-lines. The goal of the integration is to slowly put women in combat zones and work up to the being on the front-lines. It still has not happened yet, and it may not happen for another six months or so.

There has been a plan put in place by the Pentagon for this issue for more than two years now, but as 2016 gets closer and closer, more people are speaking up about their disapproval of women on the front-lines. If a woman wants to fight on the front-lines, then let her. No one would ever question the same decision if a man had made it.

Women should have every opportunity available to them, including jobs in the military. It is discrimination in the simplest form not to allow them to work or fight on the front-lines.

If anyone wants to serve our country, then he or she should not be limited, whether it is a male or a female. If a woman wants to stand on the front-lines and fight for her country, then we should be commending her and anyone else, man or woman, for it. We should not be upset about it, or try to come up with arguments to keep them down.

I am excited to see what 2016 holds for women in the military, and I am excited to see the first brave group to walk on the front-lines as equals.


Back Talk: Genetic selection triggers ethical debate

Scientist play God through genetic selection

by: TAYLOR ZARBANO/Staff Writer

In today’s society, we are seeing more changes to our genetics.

Genetic Selection has become one of the major changes that Americans have had to face.

It has America debating if it’s morally OK. For many, they don’t even know what they think about it. Too many people do not even have an opinion for themselves.

According to the Genetics Home Reference official website, Genetic Selection is the differential and non-random reproduction of different genotypes, operating to alter the gene frequencies within a population. This definition alone breaks my heart.

I love who I am. I love that God chose to make me a girl, and I love that He, the creator of the entire universe, shaped and formed me to who I am today. I love that He had a plan for my life, even before I was born. God made me exactly as I should be. If my parents decided to change my gender before I was born, my life would not be what it is today. If my parents had changed my gender, I would question my value to them. Why would they want to change who I am? Am I not who they wanted? I wish I were good enough.

What would you tell your kids if they asked why their gender was changed? Love is supposed to be unconditional, and gender selection does not show unconditional love. We know what unconditional love looks like because Christ demonstrated it so long ago on the cross, and He continues to show unconditional love by extending His grace and mercy to us daily. He loved us so much that He laid down His life so we could be free of our sins and an eternity in hell. That is the kind of love one should have for their baby, no matter what the gender is. Unconditional love is loving that baby the way he or she comes out. God is the perfect creator, and changing His creation is like telling God that we are better than He is.

Besides genetic selection being morally wrong, it also affects the people around you. Not only are you able to choose the gender of your baby, but also the genes that make up who your child is. You can choose to take away one gene and replace it with another. In other words, you can “perfect” your baby. If you want your baby to be intelligent, with blue eyes and blonde hair, then gender selection can do that with an 80-percent success rate.

How does this affect those around you? Well, we live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others. We compare our looks, talents, and abilities. We often use the words “I wish.” It does not seem fair for one to have this baby who is born intelligent because it was forced, while someone else’s child who was born naturally has to work harder than ever, then compares himself or herself with this child who was genetically modified. They simply could not compete.

Another thing to look at is gender balance. What will happen in the future if there are twice as many girls as there are males? The population numbers would not change for the better. Before gender selection, we have a natural balance that was chosen by an all-knowing God. But God allows us to make our own choices; therefore, whatever we mess up, He may not stop it. Gender balance is important today, tomorrow, and many years from now.

As far as having a baby being born with a disease or a disability, yes, genetic selection is said to prevent them, which sounds great. But disabilities can be hard to deal with. It is very sad when you find that your child has one, but there is a positive side. Many families with children who have disabilities are brought closer together and made stronger. My sister is diabetic, and there is nothing that she could have done about that. But she will tell you that she is glad that she has it because of who she is today and all that it has taught her. She looks at all the blessings instead of the negative.


So next time someone asks you about your opinion on Genetic Selection, think about all that goes into it. So many things seem great at first, but the topic goes much deeper than what is on the surface. Genetic Selection can affect one’s whole life and their view of themselves

Baby boy posing

Genetic selection can save lives

by: MATT MOLINAR/Opinion Editor

Genetic selection, or genetic engineering, has become a major breakthrough in modern medicine and agriculture.

Practices in genetic engineering have given us the potential to completely eliminate birth defects and genetic illnesses. These practices also help keep crops alive and plentiful through harsh conditions. Through this research, we can get answers related to the mysteries of genetic disorders and other unanswered genetic questions relating to both humans and plants.

Genetic engineering is a complicated practice in which DNA from an embryo is replaced with different DNA, not related to the embryo. Another form of genetic engineering is when a gene is isolated or removed from the embryo.

Genetically engineering embryos at conception has a wide variety of health benefits. Some parents decide to have their newly-conceived offspring genetically modified to help reduce the chances of the child developing a genetic disorder. Let’s take Hemophilia, for example. Hemophilia is a genetic disorder resulting when a gene coded for blood clotting becomes mutated, causing the blood of the host’s body not to clot. This can cause a small cut to become a very serious problem, causing excessive bleeding and, in severe cases, death. Through genetic engineering, this gene can be removed at early conception, possibly eliminating Hemophilia for that generational line.

Another major genetic disease that has been recently studied and treated through genetic engineering is SCID, or Sever Combined Immunodeficiency. This disease results from a serious defect in the lymphatic system, which controls your immune system. If not treated, the disease will lead to a number of other diseases, such as pneumonia and various infections. Through genetic engineering, this disease can be controlled and even cured.

The agricultural industry has also had its fair share of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering in plants works nearly the same way as in human embryos. A wide variety of the produce we eat today has, in some way, been genetically modified. These modifications are performed to help reduce the amount of pesticides used, as well as help the plants develop a resistance toward pests and drought.

Genetically modifying plants also has helped with the decreasing supply of food. A shocking statistic shows that almost 800 million people around the world suffer from hunger. Genetic engineering can help increase the amount of food we receive from crops.

Genetic engineering in agriculture can also create better tasting, as well as more nutritious foods, supporting healthy lifestyles. There are also economic benefits that come with agricultural engineering. The more food that can be produced, the more American farmers are able to increase profits made through farming.

Genetic engineering has proven to have a positive effect on humanity. While some disagree when it comes to the topic of arranging the genes that are produced by nature, there are many obvious advantages that come from genetic selection that will benefit our health and will end up saving lives.

back talk; Taylor Zarbano

Who we are…

The Plainsman Press is a junior collegiate newspaper run by the students and advised by Charlie Ehrenfeld.

The staff consists of Devin Reyna, Sergio Madrid, Tovi Oyervidez, Steven Gehegan, Michaela Chamblee, Haiden Hawkins, Alexandria Perez, Elias Hernandez, Dominick Puente

Editor-in-Chief/ Chesanie Brantley, Editor-in-Chief/Nicole Trugillo, News Editor/Jonathan Brookshire, Opinion Editor/Matt Molinar, Feature Editor/Mallory Carver, Entertainment and Online Editor/Jennifer Garza, Sports Editor/Joshua Ramirez, Photo Editor/ Sara Marshall, Editorial Assistants/Riley Golden, Dariella Hernandez, Nick Alvarado, Brandi Ortiz, and Marcella Ivins.